Summary : Explore the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, the South Shetland Islands, and the Antarctic Peninsula. Each of these destinations is legendary for abundant marine mammals, exceptional subantarctic birdlife, spectacular scenery, and fascinating history. In the Falkland Islands, where birdlife abounds, discover easily accessible albatross and penguin rookeries on idyllic island farmsteads. In South Georgia, amidst the dramatic Southern Ocean seascape, find world-famous wildlife beaches thronged with jousting elephant seals, raucous fur seals, and stately king penguins. In the South Shetland Islands, explore a pristine polar wilderness of singular beauty, complete with bustling penguin colonies, dauntless seals, and voracious whales. On this ultimate wildlife expedition, each destination is more amazing than the last.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Welcome to Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city and starting point of your Antarctic expedition. Upon arrival at the airport, you will be greeted by staff and transferred to your included hotel. For the rest of the day, you are free to explore this vibrant port city and adventure hub.
After breakfast at your hotel, the morning is yours to enjoy Ushuaia. Explore the delightful waterfront and savor views of the snowcapped Martial Range, the southernmost peaks of the Andes. Take advantage of shopping for souvenirs or some last-minute necessities.
In the afternoon, you will be transferred to the pier where you'll be warmly welcomed aboard. Settle into your suite and explore the ship that will be home during the extraordinary adventure to come. After the ship is underway, a full schedule of events kicks off with informative briefings and introductions from your expedition staff. After dinner, step out onto the open decks to admire the scenery as you pass through the Beagle Channel.
After passing the islands of Tierra del Fuego, head south across the Drake Passage. Pelagic seabirds including the majestic albatross are common in these waters and can readily be viewed from panoramic open decks or from exterior stateroom windows and balconies. On the way, you will cross the Antarctic Convergence, the biological boundary of the Southern Ocean. Briefings, orientations, and lectures prepare you for arrival in Antarctica.
During the next four days, explore the highlights of the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. This region contains some of the world’s most impressive scenery and the best wildlife viewing in Antarctica. Sheltered bays and channels sparkle with ice and reflect towering mountain peaks coated in permanent snow and immense glaciers. Icebergs of every size and description complete an image of incomparable beauty. Waters rich with krill are home to huge numbers of marine mammals and seabirds. The whole area is alive with penguins foraging at sea and forming large rookeries at special places on land. Here you'll also find Antarctic research bases of various nationalities, some with gift shops and post offices.
The South Shetland Islands are the northernmost islands in Antarctica and will likely be your first sight of land. This wildly beautiful island chain contains many landing sites with historical significance and abundant wildlife. Among them is Elephant Island, where men from Shackleton’s famous Endurance expedition spent the winter of 1916. Explore the supremely picturesque Gerlache Strait area of the Antarctic Peninsula, a pristine wilderness of spectacular white landscapes, colossal icebergs, marine mammals, and bustling penguin colonies. Here you'll have a chance to land on the continent of Antarctica.
Throughout the islands and on the mainland you'll find nesting colonies of gentoo, chinstrap, and Adélie penguins, sometimes side by side. This a great time for close encounters with inquisitive penguin chicks, who are now gaining independence as they fledge. The bravest chicks are testing their swimming skills in the sea, where they face a gauntlet of hungry leopard seals and killer whales. This is also the peak of the whale-watching season. Having gorged themselves on krill all summer, humpback and minke whales become more playful and obliging to Zodiacs and kayakers. Crabeater and Weddell seals are joined by Antarctic fur seals and southern elephant seals. The skies are full of newly fledged seabirds.
Antarctica is a true wilderness with unpredictable weather and ever-changing ice conditions which will dictate the route and exploration opportunities. With more than 14 hours of daylight per day, seize every chance to experience excellent wildlife viewing and amazing scenery via Zodiac cruises and shore excursions.
Proceed northeast through the wildlife-rich waters of the Scotia Sea and keep a lookout for abundant humpback and fin whales along the way. Briefings, bio-security procedures, and presentations by lecture staff prepare you for arrival in South Georgia.
The next five days will be devoted to the exploration of the unique and spectacular wilderness of South Georgia, home to some of the greatest concentrations of wildlife on the planet. This isolated subantarctic island is said to host upwards of 100 million seabirds, including numerous species of albatross, penguins, prions, petrels, shags, skuas, gulls, and terns. Among these is one of the largest flying birds in the world: the wandering albatross. Here you have a rare opportunity to witness part of their remarkable life cycle. While most seabird chicks are already fledging, wandering albatross chicks are only now hatching in grassy nests overlooking the wild Southern Ocean.
On South Georgia’s legendary beaches, king penguins are gathered in huge colonies that stretch from sandy shorelines to the foothills of glaciated mountains. Also at this time, hundreds of thousands of macaroni penguin chicks are getting ready to head out to sea. Rare birds such as the endemic South Georgia pipit and yellow-billed pintail round out the list of 78 bird species found across the territory.
South Georgia is also home to staggering numbers of elephant seals and fur seals. At this time, thousands of fat elephant seal pups are lounging around on shore while mobs of rambunctious fur seal pups take to the water. Once hunted nearly to extinction, large whales have returned to the bountiful seas surrounding South Georgia. With the whalers long gone, the historical whaling station of Grytviken is now home to the excellent South Georgia Museum. Here you will also find the grave of Sir Ernest Shackleton, heroic polar explorer and leader of the Endurance expedition.
In this rugged yet accessible environment, superb wildlife viewing is best complemented by active adventure. There are many opportunities for guided treks through this raw and untamed wilderness, including the legendary Shackleton Walk. For sea kayakers*, the wildlife-rich waters of South Georgia offer the chance to paddle with hordes of seals and penguins in some of the world’s most scenic waterways.
This is expedition cruising at its most authentic. Your precise route and exploration opportunities are dependent on weather in this wild and remote corner of the world. Your experienced captain and expedition leader will continually adjust plans to take maximum advantage of the conditions and circumstances at hand to take every safe opportunity to go ashore in this challenging environment.
*Optional; see Additional Costs
Sail west toward the Falkland Islands, passing the remote, seabird-covered pinnacles known as Shag Rocks on the way. Pelagic seabirds are constant companions as you keep a vigilant watch for dolphins and whales in these productive waters. Presentations by knowledgeable naturalists and historians prepare you for arrival in the Falkland Islands.
Visit Stanley, the historic capital of the Falkland Islands. Attractions within pleasant walking distance along the waterfront promenade include the Falkland Islands Museum, the governor’s house, various war memorials, quality gift shops, and charming pubs. Christ Church Cathedral features an impressive whalebone arch and dramatic views of shipwrecks in the harbor.
You may choose to explore Gypsy Cove, a national nature reserve where white sand beaches are frequented by numerous bird species, including the endemic Falklands flightless steamer duck. Here you can also see Magellanic penguins, whose chicks have fledged and are making a tentative start to their lives at sea. At this time, you may even find groups of sea lions hauled out on shore.
Continue your exploration of the Falklands in the isolated outlying islands. These bleakly beautiful isles are havens for wildlife. Large colonies of seabirds perched on windy bluffs overlooking azure seas are easily accessible by hiking over lush meadows. At this time, black-browed albatross soar down from above while feisty rockhopper penguins leap up surf-battered cliffs to feed their large chicks amongst the tussocks.
On nearby beaches, gentoo penguin chicks are starting to fledge while adult king penguins and chicks of all ages are getting ready to brave the austral winter. Just offshore, you may see Peale’s dolphins and even killer whales patrolling the coasts. A wide range of land birds, including the endemic Cobb’s wren and inquisitive striated caracara, contribute to an abundance of wildlife.
The ocean breezes gradually get warmer as the ship sails north through the South Atlantic Ocean. As you enter deeper waters, keep a lookout for killer whales, blue whales, sei whales, and southern right whales. This is also the time for festivities such as the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail and the end-of-voyage slideshow.
Disembark this morning in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Following disembarkation, a group transfer to Ezeiza International Airport or the city center is provided.
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.
Bilingual Departures: All voyages are conducted in English and German.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
All guests are required to carry adequate travel insurance that must contain medical, evacuation and repatriation coverage. Passengers must ensure that their purchased insurance includes cruise travel in the polar regions, and has evacuation and repatriation coverage of no less than $200,000 per person. Proof of coverage is required prior to embarkation. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends at least $200,000 Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions.
Pre-booking required; space is limited. Weather permitting, experience the thrill and tranquility of sea kayaking in the polar regions as part of a guided paddling group. Participants must be at least 16 years old at the time of their voyage, in good health with appropriate physical fitness, and have previous kayaking experience. Children who are 16 to 18 years of age at the time of their voyage are allowed to participate if they are accompanied and supervised at all times by a parent or guardian.
Photography Program: Included
Learn and practice your photography skills alongside an experienced professional. An expert photographer will be available to answer your questions and give advice, both in the form of onboard lectures and workshops on shore. Explore the key elements of photography in a fun and relaxed setting with plenty of opportunities for questions and feedback. Learn how to see light in a new way and experiment with the techniques of composition and framing.
One night pre-voyage hotel in Ushuaia; group transfer airport/hotel on day prior to embarkation; group transfer to the ship on embarkation day; group transfer to Ezeiza International Airport or central location upon disembarkation; shipboard accommodations; welcome and farewell cocktails on board ship; leadership throughout the voyage by experienced Expedition Leader and Expedition Team; scheduled landings/excursions (subject to weather and ice conditions); Wi-Fi on board ship (2/28/2022); digital voyage log; photography program; gear to keep (wind- and water-resistant parka); gear on loan (rubber boots); all meals onboard the ship; 24-hour coffee/tea station on board ship; all port fees. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; transfers to/from hotel if arriving prior to Day 1 of the program; visa and passport fees (if applicable); emergency evacuation insurance to a minimum benefit of $200,000 (required); luggage and trip cancellation insurance (highly recommended); excess baggage charges; soft drinks and alcoholic beverages other than those mentioned as included; kayaking; personal expenses such as laundry and onboard communications such as telephone calls; gratuities; pre- or post-cruise travel expenses; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photos © Poseidon Expeditions