Summary : Challenge. Desolation. Unlimited wonder. It’s not difficult to grasp what attracted the great explorers to Antarctica. Get a personal appreciation for the struggle to tame the bottom of the world on this 22-day adventure to the land that entranced Ernest Shackleton and countless others since. Down here, you’ll explore the Falkland Islands, encounter abandoned whaling stations on South Georgia Island, and pay your respects at Shackleton’s grave. Elsewhere, you’ll catch up with penguins (king, chinstrap, gentoo, and Adélie varieties) and learn all about them through daily lectures, get close to whales and cavorting seals from a Zodiac boat, and keep an eye peeled for towering icebergs and massive glaciers. Prepare to be astonished.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Arrive in Montevideo at any time. Arrival transfer included. Enjoy the sights and sounds of Uruguay's capital city.
The morning is free. Take the chance to explore one of Montevideo's colorful neighborhoods. Transfer as a group in the early afternoon. Embarkation on the Expedition begins in the afternoon at the port of Montevideo. The evening is spent onboard the ship sailing southwards towards the Falkland Islands.
With course set southeast, become acquainted with the ship. Enjoy the lecture and educational sessions about the extraordinary human and natural history of the Antarctic region.
Spend time on deck to spot wildlife including albatross and possibly whales and dolphins. Relax in the library, grab a drink in the Polar Bear Pub or make some new friends in the Discovery Lounge.
The Falkland Islands provide a rare opportunity to witness the biological diversity and extraordinary scenery of the southern islands. Penguins are abundant here. The Falklands have the largest black-browed albatross colony in the world. In Stanley, meet the hardy local inhabitants whose colorful houses provide contrast to the long, dark winters.
With course set for South Georgia, days at sea are filled with historical and biological lectures to prepare for landings. Spend plenty of time on deck looking for the many whales that inhabit these waters and identifying the abundant sea birds of the South Ocean.
South Georgia Island is home to many marvels including former whaling stations, the grave of polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, incredible scenery and prolific wildlife. On nearby islands look out for the wandering albatross in their nesting grounds. Visit a huge colony of king penguins, a major highlight of this part of the journey. South Georgia is also the home over half of the world's enormous southern elephant seals, the largest of all seals. Keep an eye out for newly birthed southern elephant pups. Weather permitting, enjoy 3-4 days free to explore this island.
Plotting a southwesterly course across the Scotia Sea, sail for the legendary Elephant Island in the South Shetland Islands. The waters are rich with nutrients and the long summer days provide the ingredient that is missing most of the year. The result is a complex food chain topped by several species of whales, seals, and seabirds.
Experience some of the most unique wildlife and awe-inspiring scenery in the South Shetland Islands, just north of the Antarctic Peninsula. Attempt two shore landings per day (weather permitting), and encounter gentoo, chinstrap, and Adélie penguin rookeries; Weddell, crabeater, and leopard seals; and orca, humpback, and minke whales in the cold Antarctic waters. The ship will attempt to reach the Antarctic Peninsula for a landing if weather and ice permit.
The peninsula also has a remarkable human history; during the voyage you will learn about some of the most important and dramatic expeditions to this remote corner of the world.
Turning north, embark upon the 400-mile crossing of the passage that bears the name of the 16th-century English explorer Sir Francis Drake. The Expedition is at home in this part of the Southern Ocean, known for the unimpeded never-ending fetch of the winds that encircle the Antarctic.
At some point on the first day, cross the Antarctic Convergence—a meeting of cold polar water flowing north and warmer sub-antarctic water moving in the opposite direction. It is the largest biological barrier on earth and is marked by a change in temperature, salinity, and nutrient levels. Further south, associated areas of mixing and upwelling create an ocean high in marine productivity.
Wandering, black-browed, and light-mantled sooty albatrosses and Prion's and cape petrels are among some of the species of seabirds that may join your journey towards the South American continent.
Your adventure comes to a close. Enjoy a final breakfast on the ship before saying your goodbyes and disembarking in the morning.
Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice and weather conditions—and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation with this shipping company, all passengers must purchase travel insurance with a minimum medical, evacuation, and repatriation coverage of $200,000 and this insurance must cover personal injury and emergency medical expenses. Passengers must be able to provide proof of insurance purchase and adequate coverage as per the required amounts above. Passengers are responsible for advising their insurer of the type of travel, destination(s), and activities included in their booking so that the insurer may provide appropriate coverage. It is the passenger's responsibility to ensure that they have sufficient coverage and comply with the terms of the applicable insurance plans. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends that all passengers also purchase comprehensive travel protection that includes cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
Limited availability; advance booking is highly recommended. Restricted to 20 kayakers and two guides per outing. Venture out to sheltered bays and areas known for calmer waters on small group kayaking excursions led by expert kayaking guides. Passengers who participate in the sea kayak program should have a working knowledge of sea kayaking strokes, entries, and exits (including a “wet exit”). Outings last approximately 2-4 hours and are guided and supervised by professional kayak guides who have experience in cold-water regions paddling near ice and marine mammals. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
One pre-cruise hotel night in Montevideo; arrival and departure transfers; shipboard accommodations; shore excursions and Zodiac cruises; services of the Expedition staff and naturalists; lecture and educational programs; gear to keep (expedition parka); gear on loan (waterproof boots supplied for US sizes 4-16); all meals onboard the ship; coffee, tea, and water. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; mandatory travel insurance; passport and visa fees; discretionary gratuities; items of a personal nature including laundry, Wi-Fi, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages except coffee, tea and water; kayaking; fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © Wendy Ronksley (Gentoo Penguin), © Paul Teolis (Leopard Seal); © G Adventures