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Antarctica, Falklands, and South Georgia

AFSG Cruise Information

Summary : Enjoy extended daylight hours on this new voyage, taking place at the height of the Antarctic summer when the wildlife colonies are busy and the sea ice continues to break up, allowing for a range of landing sites. Departing from Ushuaia, Argentina, cross the Drake Passage arriving in Antarctica to celebrate the New Year! Here you will explore the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands making daily shore landings. Follow the course taken by Sir Ernest Shackleton whose epic small boat journey, from Elephant Island across the Scotia Sea to South Georgia, remains one of the greatest feats of navigation in history. Your journey will commence at the remote southeastern tip of the island, then continues along the nothern coastline. Here you will find some of the largest kind penguin colonies on earth. The shores are covered in wildlife – including nesting albatross, fur seals, and elephant seals. Rusting relics from the old whaling era sit silent and provide a dramatic contrast to the green tussock grass and snowy peaks that surround you. After a thorough exploration of South Georgia, head for the Falkland Islands and aim to spend one final day exploring the wildlife-rich Sea Lion Island and nearby Bleaker Island. Your voyage comes to an end in Stanly, Falkland Islands – the small capital from where you will fly back to Punta Arenas, Chile.

Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins

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Itinerary
Day 1
Ushuaia, Argentina

Your journey to Antarctica commences in Ushuaia, at the southern tip of Argentina. Gather at a central meeting point and transfer to the pier for embarkation. After settling into your cabin and exploring the ship, meet your expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as you enjoy a welcome cocktail, dinner, and then cast off – bound for Antarctica and the adventure of a lifetime!

Day 2 – 3
Drake Passage

Sailing south towards Antarctica you will be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions as you transit the Drake Passage. Photographing these magnificent birds from the deck of the ship takes patience and skill. An onboard photography expert will be available to show you the best technique. Join the ship's captain on the bridge to learn about the operations of the ship. Throughout the day, onboard experts will educate you with a series of presentations about the environment, wildlife, and history and the locations you will hopefully visit in the coming days.

Day 4 – 5
Antarctic Peninsula

Awaken today to the magnificent snowy peaks of continental Antarctica. Take a deep breath – you have arrived. Welcome to Antarctica! This surely must be one of the most spectacular locations in the world to ring in the New Year!

You will spend the next several days navigating through the icy waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula. The coastline features heavily glaciated mountains permanently covered in ice and snow. Rocky outcrops are home to gentoo, Adelie, and chinstrap penguin rookeries and the waters are rich in marine life. You will make several off-ship excursions each day, exploring on shore, or cruising in the Zodiacs. You activity program will be in full swing – you get to choose how your Antarctic adventure unfolds! Plan to break up into small groups allowing you to indulge your own personal interests – be it hiking, wildlife observation, photography, or blissful silent contemplation.

In addition to exploring offshore island along the Antarctic coastline, you will hopefully step foot on the actual continent of Antarctica. Neko Harbor, or nearby Paradise Harbor both provide opportunities to experience this great thrill.

Day 6 – 7
South Shetland Islands and Elephant Island

After several busy days of exploration along the Antarctic Peninsula, head for the South Shetland Islands. If the weather conditions allow, you will sail into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. This is a very dramatic location. There are several other landing sites in the vicinity including Half Moon Island and the broad pebbly beach at Yankee Harbor, where you may encounter Weddell seals sunning themselves. To the north, lies Elephant Island – forever connected to the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton and the HMS Endurance expedition a century ago. On the windswept north coast, exposed to the swells of the South Atlantic, is Point Wild. It is here that Shackleton and his exhausted men camped under their upturned boats – pondering their changes of survival. Shore landings here are notoriously tricky due to often gale force winds and pounding surf onto the rocky beach. Nevertheless, this is a thrilling location for history buffs.

Day 8 – 9
Scotia Sea

As you depart Antarctica you cannot help but ponder the journey made by Shackleton and his four companions – as they attempted the near impossible – navigating 800 nautical miles in a 30-foot converted lifeboat across the tempestuous Scotia Sea to South Georgia. The crossing will be much easier in your stately expedition ship. Onboard experts will keep you busy with fascinating presentations and lively discussions throughout the day. The great pelagic seabirds are sure to keep you company – and it is anticipated that you will also experience excellent sightings of albatross and giant petrels soaring on the winds of the South Atlantic Ocean. Anticipation builds as the mountainous peaks appear on the horizon, marking your arrival on South Georgia.

Day 10 – 12
South Georgia

Rounding the remote southeastern end of South Georgia, you will spend the next three days thoroughly exploring the coastline. Dark sand beaches, tussock covered hinterland and a backdrop of towering peaks and glaciers are a feast for all the senses. South Georgia has often been called the most staggering wildlife show on earth. Seals cover the beaches, seabirds fill the skies and living in rookeries of immense size, you will discover the majestic king penguins. The aim is to visit a number of these huge colonies – where naturalists estimate that more than 100,000 adult and juvenile penguins live in close proximity. Locations you will hoping visit include Gold Harbor, Royal Bay, St Andrews Bay and Salisbury Plain. Dotted along the coastline are the rusting relics of the early whaling era. The largest of these locations is Grytviken. Here you will find a fascinating museum and a beautifully restored Norwegian Lutheran Church. Adjacent to the old whaling station lies a small cemetery. This is the final resting place of Sir Ernest Shackleton – who was laid to rest here in 1922. For many onboard, being in the presence of the great polar explorer is a highlight of the trip. Continue your journey along the coastline, hoping to visit Stromness – another former whaling station – and the final destination of Shackleton and companions Frank Worsley and Tom Crean having made the near impossible traverse across the interior of South Georgia.

Day 13 – 15
Sailing towards the Falkland Islands

By now you are in sensory overload, your cameras full of images and your journey towards the Falkland Islands commences. Much of your time is spent scanning the horizon in search of whales and other marine mammals. The spectacular seabirds including several albatross and petrel species are your constant companions as they soar above the ship. Photographing these stunning birds in flight takes great patience and skill and your resident photography expert on board will show you the best techniques. Your onboard educational program continues and your experts will recap your remarkable journey to date. These days provide a good opportunity to catch up on journal entries, sort through your images in the multimedia room, and catch some rest after a busy two weeks of activity.

Day 16
East Falkland Island

After several days crossing, Sea Lion Island marks your arrival on the Falkland Islands. This windswept location situated in the southern archipelago provides one further day of activity. You will launch on Zodiacs and go ashore to view the remarkable wildlife colonies found here. Three species of penguins including gentoo, magellenic, and rockhopper exist in the vicinity. Southern elephant seals and South American sea lions are found hauled out on the beaches. Once ashore you will also look for kind cormorants and striated caracaras. Weather permitting, you may have time to visit neighboring Bleaker Island, another settlement on the exposed southeastern coast of the Falklands. Charting a northerly course towards Stanley, you will enjoy a special dinner attended by the captain of the ship and reflect on a remarkable expedition to the farthest corners of the planet.

Day 17
Stanley, Falkland Islands / Punta Arenas, Chile

In the early morning, you will navigate through the narrows and into port. Stanley is currently home to just over 2,000 residents and is reminiscent of a rural town in coastal England or Scotland. It is charming with brightly colored houses, pretty flower-filled gardens, a quaint cathedral and several local pubs. There is time to explore the town before you make your way to the airport for your included return flight to Punta Arenas in southern Chile. It will be possible to connect to flights through to Santiago or other destinations in Chile. If you are staying in Punta Arenas, a transfer will be provided to several downtown locations.

Notes

The above itinerary is a guide only, as the exact program depends on weather and ice conditions and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition.

Mandatory Insurance:
All guests are required to have comprehensive travel insurance which must cover accidents, injury, illness and death, medical expenses, including any related to pre-existing medical conditions, emergency repatriation (including helicopter) and personal liability. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends at least $200,000 Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage for Antarctic trips which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist you with this. You must carry proof of insurance with you and produce it if requested by expedition staff. The expedition team reserves the right to cancel or suspend your participation on a trip or in certain activities that comprise part of a trip, at any time, including after the commencement of your tour, with no right of refund, if you are unable to provide proof of insurance when requested.

Camping:
No additional supplement (highly time and weather dependent activity)
No pre-booking required. If conditions are suitable and you choose to camp on the continent, all the required gear such as a few tents, bivy sacs and sleeping bags, will be provided. This excursion is managed with strict environmental regulations. A portable outhouse tent is used and absolutely everything is transported back to the ship afterwards. Please Note: Camping is unlikely to happen on voyages to the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica, due to the shorter amount of time spent in Antarctica itself. If weather and ice conditions permit and you are near a suitable location, your expedition leaders will make their best effort to facilitate this activity. Please inquire.

Hiking:
No additional supplement
No pre-booking required. Trekking poles are available onboard for passenger use and instep crampons will be provided if necessary to improve traction on slick surfaces. Sturdy hiking books and warm hiking socks are needed to join this activity. Hikes will be 2-3 hours in duration and will involve negotiating challenging terrain without the assistance of trails. Antarctica hiking rewards with images of snow, ice, mountains, and glaciers.

Sea Kayaking:
$795 per person
Pre-booked option for up to 16 guests. If you have experience sea kayaking and are interested in doing this activity during the expedition, you will need to book this option prior to departure from home. You cannot book this activity once onboard. There is a separate document for sea kayakers that you will need to review beforehand. Provided equipment includes full Gore-Tex drysuits, kayak specific PFDs, neoprene booties, a waterproof deck bag, pogies, and a single or double kayak.

Included:
Transfer from the established central meeting point in Ushuaia to the ship on the day of embarkation; transfer from the ship to the airport in Stanley, Falkland Islands; charter flight from Stanley, Falkland Islands to Punta Arenas, Chile; transfer from the airport in Punta Arenas to several downtown locations; cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship; afternoon tea with fresh snacks each afternoon; coffee, tea, hot chocolate throughout the day; Zodiac excursions; extensive program of relevant educational presentations; advice from experienced team of naturalists; overnight camping gear; choice of foul weather gear set (pants/jacket/wellington boots OR waterproof backpack/waterproof binoculars/wellington boots); use of multimedia station; welcome reception; welcome dinner; farewell dinner hosted by Captain; 'Memory Book' (log book chronicling your trip, includes photos); onboard medical officer; pre-departure information; hairdryers available on request at no charge. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
All airfare, except where explicitly listed above; visa and passport fees; airport departure taxes; pre-cruise or post-cruise meals; hotel accommodations; personal laundry charges; postage; telephone calls; drinks; medical expenses; trip interruption and cancellation insurance; travel medical insurance including medical evacuation (required); gratuities to staff and crew; private fitness sessions; massage therapy; fee for optional programs; fuel surcharge may apply.

PHOTOS: © Amanda Zeisset, © David Sinclair

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