Experience all the best of the sub-Antarctic highlights on this 22-day Antarctic expedition. Meet at least six penguin species, visit Port Lockroy, and pay your respects at Shackleton's grave on this polar voyage voted #1 to observe Antarctica and the South Atlantic Islands. This cruise includes four days on South Georgia, probably the most beautiful place on earth. Plan a visit to Orcadas station on South Orkney Islands and If the ice permits sail into the Weddell Sea through the ice-clogged Antarctic Sound.
View shipwrecks, wildlife & war monuments that bring the Falklands to life
Witness the greatest concentration of Antarctic wildlife
Discover the dark mountains & big blue icebergs of the South Orkney Islands
In the afternoon, embark in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world located in the shadow of the Andes and right at the Beagle Channel shore. Sail through this scenic waterway during the afternoon.
The Falkland (Malvinas) Islands offer an abundance of wildlife that is easily approachable, though caution is always advised. These islands are largely unknown gems, the site of a 1982 war between the UK and Argentina. The capital of the Falklands and center of its culture, Stanley has some Victorian-era charm: colorful houses, well-tended gardens, and English-style pubs are all to be found here. You can also see several century-old clipper ships nearby, silent witnesses to the hardships of 19th century sailors. The small but interesting museum is also worth a visit, covering the early days of settlement up to the Falklands War. Approximately 2,100 people live in Stanley. Feel free to wander at will, though be aware that admission fees to local attractions are not included in the voyage.
During this segment of the voyage, you may visit the following sites:
West Point Island – Thick with black-browed albatrosses and rockhopper penguins.
New Island, Coffin’s Harbour – This location is a reasonable walk from the landing site at the New Island South Wildlife Reserve, providing views of nesting black-browed albatrosses and rockhopper penguins. A more strenuous hike to Landsend Bluff may also show you some South American fur seals. The site of the only land-based whaling station on the Falkland Islands is south of the landing beach.
New Island North Nature Reserve – Landing here requires a special permit. If received, you can make a farewell visit to the black-browed albatrosses (among other bird species) and South American fur seals that make the Falklands their home.
Carcass Island – Despite its name, this island is pleasantly rodent-free and hence bounteous with birdlife. Anything from breeding Magellanic penguins and gentoos to numerous waders and passerine birds (including Cobb’s wrens and tussock-birds) live here.
Saunders Island – On Saunders Island you can see the black-browed albatross and its sometimes-clumsy landings, along with breeding imperial shags and rockhopper penguins. King penguins, Magellanic penguins, and gentoos are also found here.
Cross the Antarctic Convergence on your way to South Georgia. Entering Antarctic waters, the temperature may drop significantly in the time span of only a few hours. Near the Convergence see a multitude of southern seabirds near the ship, including several species of albatrosses, shearwaters, petrels, prions, and skuas.
Arrive at the first South Georgia activity site. Please keep in mind that weather conditions in this area can be challenging, largely dictating the program.
Over the next several days, you have a chance to visit the following sites:
Prion Island – This location is closed during the early part of the wandering albatross breeding season (November 20 – January 7). From January on, the breeding adults have found their partners and are sitting on eggs or nursing their chicks. Enjoy witnessing the gentle nature of these animals, which possess the largest wingspan of any birds in the world.
Fortuna Bay – Near beaches inhabited by various penguins and seals, you have the chance to follow the final leg of Shackleton’s route to the abandoned whaling village of Stromness. This path cuts across the mountain pass beyond Shackleton’s Waterfall, and as the terrain is partly swampy, be prepared to cross a few small streams.
Salisbury Plain, St. Andrews Bay, Gold Harbour – These sites not only house the three largest king penguin colonies in South Georgia, they’re also three of the world’s largest breeding beaches for Antarctic fur seals. Literally millions breed on South Georgia during December and January. Only during the mid-season do they peak in their breeding cycle. Watch the large bulls keep a constant vigil (and occasionally fight) over territories where dozens of females have just given birth or are about to deliver. Watch your step and stay cool when walking the beaches during this time.
Grytviken – In this abandoned whaling station, king penguins walk the streets and elephant seals lie around like they own the place – because they basically do. Here you might be able to see the South Georgia Museum as well as Shackleton’s grave.
Cobblers Cove, Godthul – At Cobblers Cove aim for Rookery Point to see macaroni penguins. Light-mantled sooty albatrosses nest along the coastline and giant petrels can be observed as well. Godthul (Norwegian for “good cove”) was named by Norwegian whalers and seal-hunters and remains such as bones can still be found along the shore line. Beaches are the home of gentoo penguins.
Cooper Bay – Offers the largest chinstrap penguin population and gentoo and also macaroni penguins are present. Antarctic terns, white-chinnes petrels, blue-eyed shags and light-mantled sooty albatrosses can be spotted too.
Spend the day at sea, where the ship is again followed by a multitude of seabirds. At some point you might encounter sea-ice, and it is at the ice-edge where you might have a chance to see some high-Antarctic species like the McCormick skua and snow petrel.
Visit Orcadas station, an Argentinean base located in the South Orkney Islands. The friendly base personnel provide a tour of their facilities, and you can enjoy the wonderful views of the surrounding glaciers. Alternatively you may attempt a landing in Shingle Cove on Signy Island.
If the ice conditions permit, you now sail into the Weddell Sea. Here colossal tabular icebergs herald your arrival to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. You might also visit Brown Bluff, located in the ice-clogged Antarctic Sound, where you could get the chance to set foot on the Antarctic Continent itself.
Sail further in the Antarctic Peninsula. Sites you may visits are:
Wilhelmina Bay – A likely spot to see feeding humpback whales. If conditions allow, you may even embark on a Zodiac cruise to the ghostly wreck of the Guvernøren, a whaling vessel that caught fire here in 1915.
Neko Harbour – An epic landscape of mammoth glaciers and endless wind-carved snow, Neko Harbour offers opportunities for a Zodiac cruise and landing that afford the closest views of the surrounding alpine peaks.
Paradise Bay – You may be able to take a Zodiac cruise in these sprawling, ice-flecked waters, where there’s a good chance you’ll encounter humpback and minke whales.
The breathtaking scenery continues in the southern Gerlache Strait, and if ice conditions allow, you may even reach Lemaire Channel. Conditions on the Drake Passage determine the exact time of departure.
1 suite with 2 windows (minimum), 1 double bed, 1 single (sofa) bed, Private shower & toilet, Desk & chair, Flatscreen TV, Telephone & WiFi (supplemented), Refrigerator, Coffee & tea maker, Hairdryer, ample storage space.
All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on local ice and weather conditions, the availability of landing sites and opportunities to see wildlife. The final itinerary will be determined by the Expedition Leader on board. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises.
- Voyage aboard the designated vessel as indicated in the itinerary
- All meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea
- All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac
- Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff
- Free use of rubber boots
- Luggage transfer from pick-up point to the vessel on the day of embarkation, in Ushuaia
- Pre-scheduled group transfer from the vessel to the airport in Ushuaia (directly after disembarkation)
- All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program
- Comprehensive pre-departure material
- Any airfare whether on scheduled or charter flights
- Pre- and post land arrangements
- Passport and visa expenses
- Government arrival and departure taxes
- Meals ashore
- Baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (which is mandatory)
- Excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage charges and telecommunication charges
- The customary gratuity at the end of the voyages for stewards and other service personnel aboard (guidelines will be provided)
The trip might have been the absolute best of our lifetime (thus far). We particularly want to commend our guide Peter in the Guilin area-he was so incredibly attentive, energetic, enthusiastic-and absolutely dedicated to ensuring that our meals were 100% vegetarian.