Summary : Follow in the footsteps of the great Antarctic explorers and visit sites that Shackleton and Weddell explored. Visit one of South America’s most important paleontological museums and explore South America’s first paleontological park looking for ancient fossils. Visit the Valdes Peninsula, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hike across New Island and West Point Island to see black-browed albatross. See snow-covered mountains, mighty glaciers and spectacular icebergs. Encounter rockhopper, gentoo, macaroni, Adelie, magellanic and chinstrap penguins, and possibly king penguins. Watch for Commerson’s and Peale dolphins in the Falkland Islands and southern right whales close to the Valdes Peninsula and identify different species of albatross, shearwaters and petrels on this trip of a lifetime.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Embark Silver Cloud and meet some of your fellow explorers as you become acquainted with the luxurious amenities found on board.
A mandatory safety drill will take place before you set sail. You will be introduced to your Expedition Team and important members of the crew.
Take the opportunity to relax after your long flight and have a leisurely breakfast before you join one of the talks by your Expedition Team members. These talks will cover a wide range of subjects –from geology to history, biology and even botany (to be seen in the Falkland Islands). Enjoy wine tastings, the boutique, language and dance classes. Take in a matinee movie, check the market or your e-mail in the Internet Point, slip away with a novel from the library to a sunny chaise or with a movie to your suite.
Today you have two opportunities to enjoy the remarkable beauty of the remote Falkland Islands.
During the morning, visit New Island, a wildlife and nature reserve. The New Island Conservation Trust, a private environmental conservation group, protects its many birds and animals. Zodiacs take you ashore near the island’s small settlement at Coffin Harbour. From there, hike past the Barnard Memorial Museum crossing the island from east to west to reach the rocky cliffs and a rookery where rockhopper penguins and blue-eyed shags share the same nesting area. Observe black-browed albatross going about their daily routines and may even spot upland geese on your hike.
Your onboard historian might tell you about ‘Barnard’s barn’ — a stone structure once belonging to an early settler and now a museum, as well as the wreck of Protector III — an old minesweeper used for seal hunting, now grounded just off the shore not too far from the landing site.
As you sail towards West Point Island, keep an eye out for Peale’s dolphins and Commerson’s dolphins with their distinctive black and white markings.
Zodiacs will take you to a jetty. Rolling moorland and steep cliffs make for great photographic opportunities, but the main attraction is the Devil’s Nose, a cliffside colony of black-browed albatrosses nesting side-by-side with feisty rockhopper penguins. Magellanic penguins and cormorants can also be found on the island.
Quaint Stanley, capital of the Falklands, seems in many ways like a British village fallen out of the sky. Many homes are painted in bright colors, adding visual appeal to this distant outpost. Not far offshore, the wreck of the Lady Elizabeth, is one of the many vessels remaining as a silent testimonial to the region's frequent harsh weather conditions. The islands, also known by their Spanish name of Islas Malvinas, are home to arguably more tuxedo-clad inhabitants of the penguin variety than human residents. Various species, such as gentoo, Magellanic and the more elusive king penguins, either live here permanently or use the Falklands as a stopover on their migration route.
While you're at sea, enjoy wine tastings, designer boutiques, language and dance classes. Take in a matinee movie, check the market or your e-mail in the Internet Point, slip away with a novel from the library to a sunny chaise or with a movie to your suite.
Awesome glaciers flecked with pink algae can be seen approaching Elephant Island—so named either for its elephant-like appearance or for sightings of elephant seals here. Elephant Island is home to several chinstrap penguin rookeries, as well as 2,000-year-old moss colonies. Weddell seals and macaroni penguins can also be spotted. In 1916, when Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance was crushed in pack ice in the Weddell Sea, the crew was stranded here for more than 4 months finding shelter under two upturned lifeboats on the spit of land Shackleton’s men named ‘Point Wild’.
The Antarctic Sound is a stretch of water named after the first ship to have passed through this body of water from the Bransfield Strait to the Weddell Sea in 1902. The Antarctic eventually sank and crew and scientists had to spend quite some time in this area before they could be rescued. Sites that have to do with this story, like Hope Bay or Paulet Island, are sometimes visited. Adelie and gentoo penguins breed at these places, as do kelp gulls and cape petrels, snow petrels and skuas. The Sound’s main attractions are the spectacular tabular icebergs.
While sailing along the Antarctic Peninsula, every turn can reveal a new and breath-taking adventure. The pack ice becomes thicker the closer the ship gets to Antarctica’s vast white wilderness. Remote and otherworldly, Antarctica is irresistible for its spectacular iceberg sculptures and calving glaciers, and for the possibility of close encounters with marine mammals. As late spring is the beginning of the Antarctic season, Silver Cloud will take you to seemingly untouched and never before visited sites.
Watch for seals sunbathing on slow-moving ice floes and for humpback, minke, and orca whales to surface from below the frigid waters. Each day, attempt Zodiac departures, and, if conditions permit, cruise amidst colorful icebergs or step ashore to visit a variety of penguin rookeries and perhaps scientific research stations on complimentary excursions led by your team of natural history experts.
A flexible itinerary allows you to take advantage of favorable sea and weather conditions. In the true spirit of expedition cruising, each day the Expedition Leader and Captain will determine the best course depending on weather, ice conditions and wildlife encountered. Here are some of the places you may visit:
Named after Nordenskjöld’s ship, this 30 mile long stretch of water at the north end of the Antarctic Peninsula offers some of the best tabular iceberg observations.
Brown Bluff, Tabarin Peninsula:
Brown Bluff is an ice-capped, 745-meter-high, flat-topped mountain with a prominent cliff of reddish-brown volcanic rock. Adelie and gentoo penguins, kelp Gulls, and cape petrels use this as a breeding area. Birds such as the all-white snow petrel and skuas may be seen from a distance. As you explore the area, Weddell seals may be seen basking in the sunlight. If conditions permit, a hike onto a nearby glacier might be possible.
Cuverville Island, Errera Channel:
The island was discovered during de Gerlache’s Belgica expedition of 1897–1999, and was named for a vice-admiral in the French navy. The large, bare rock areas near the shore provide nesting sites for gentoo penguins, but the penguins also look for exposed rocks on the slopes. Snow petrels and Pintado petrels may be seen, and Wilson’s storm petrels nest in the higher scree of the island. Depending on conditions a hike towards the top of the island for stunning panoramic views might be offered. During Zodiac tours, you may see hauled-out Weddell seals.
The bay is well named for its spectacular scenery of mountains, glaciers and icebergs. From the ship, observe Argentina’s “Base Almirante Brown”, one of many Antarctic research stations. Here, you can actually set foot on the continent of Antarctica. Close to the station gentoo penguins, blue-eyed shags, Antarctic terns, kelp gulls and skuas have all been seen nesting. Depending on the conditions, view the wildlife from sea level while cruising in Zodiacs or cruise the bay with Silver Cloud. There’s a good chance you’ll come across a crabeater seal relaxing on a nearby ice floe, or, if you’re very lucky, your Zodiac driver may locate a minke whale.
The site is named after a whale factory ship, which often used this bay, and Neko Harbor still today offers good chances to see whales. A landing will provide an opportunity to see gentoo penguin rookeries and quite possibly Weddell seals and crabeater seals hauled out on the cobble beach. A hike to a lookout point will be a good exercise and will be rewarded with panoramic views of the glacier, Andvord Bay and the Gerlache Strait.
Port Lockroy, Goudier Island:
The British built a listening station on Goudier Island during WWII, which was then used as a research station in the 1950s. Bransfield House was restored in 1996 and since then has acted as a museum and gift shop. The Antarctic Heritage Trust operates a post-office at the station, which is open during summer. Snowy sheathbills and gentoo penguins roam outside the museum and leopard seals often patrol the sea.
Deception Island is an excellent example of a caldera where it is believed that the volcano’s summit collapsed when one section sank far enough to allow the sea to flood the interior. Plan to sail into the caldera through a narrow entrance called Neptune’s Bellows and anchor in sight of the former whaling station and the former British Antarctic Survey station. The resident geologist will take the opportunity to explain the unique volcanic features of the area and their importance for science, while the historian will discuss the whaling history of Deception Island. Still visible on the island are the boilers used to make whale oil in the early 1900s. Conditions permitting, hike to Neptune’s Window for spectacular panoramic views.
Some 770 kilometers (478 miles) south of Cape Horn, the South Shetland Islands are usually the first land seen in Antarctica. Separated from the Antarctic Peninsula by the Bransfield Strait, nine major islands make up the group. The region was the first to be exploited by sealers in the early 19th century, and because of its proximity to South America, it still is the most visited by scientists and tourists. Chinstrap, Adelie, gentoo and macaroni penguins all breed here. In addition, because it is the warmest part of the continent, large moss beds as well as orange, black, grey and green lichens grow, even hair grass and pearlwort manage to survive.
The Drake Passage has a notorious reputation for its turbulent seas due to the funneling effect of the mountain ridges and seafloor pushing winds and water eastwards. When Silver Cloud reaches the Antarctic Convergence, a fluid and fluctuating natural boundary where cold polar waters from the south meet warmer water moving southward, there is another good chance to see whales and seabirds as nutrients are pushed to the surface by the different currents.
Spend some time on deck watching black-browed albatross, southern giant petrels, southern fulmars, cape petrels and other seabirds gliding in the air currents of Silver Cloud’s wake.
There will be opportunities to attend additional presentations offered by the Expedition Team lecturers, to edit the countless photos taken and to socialize with new friends as you travel north towards Ushuaia.
After breakfast, disembark Silver Cloud.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Although travel insurance is not mandatory to participate in this voyage, ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends at least $200,000 Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
Kayaking will be offered complimentary and will run on a first-come-first-serve sign up basis. Guests cannot pre book the kayak tours. It will be run by two professional kayak guides. Participation requires good physical condition and right of participation is reserved. The kayak guides will make the final determination if a guest is fit to participate. Kayaking will be weather dependent.
Ship accommodations; most onboard meals (Le Champagne Restaurant excluded); butler service; kayaking; most wines, champagnes and spirits on the ship; tea, coffee, hot chocolate, water and soda; parka; onboard gratuities (except spa); port charges and handling fees; Vista and Veranda Suites receive one hour of included Internet access per guest/per day; Medallion, Silver, Royal, Grand, and Owner’s Suites receive unlimited Internet access; Royal, Grand, and Owner’s Suites receive laundry service throughout the voyage as well as dinner for two in Le Champagne(one evening per voyage) and two hours of worldwide phone use from your suite. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; meals on board at Le Champagne Restaurant unless mentioned above as included; some alcoholic premium beverages; travel insurance; government fees and taxes; visa and passport expenses; internet use not mentioned as included; gifts and items of a personal nature such as laundry (unless mentioned as included) and spa options; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Creative Services at Silversea Cruises, © Richard Sidey (two penguins, passenger walking), © Ray Stranagan (landscape, penguins and zodiac)