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, 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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$12,995 to $28,495
Welcome to Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. The name of the city can be translated as 'fair winds' but it is also referred to as the Paris of South America. It's an exuberant brew of traditions, languages and different cultures. Upon your arrival at the airport, a transfer is provided to your hotel. For the rest of the day you are free to explore this welcoming city.
A group transfer to the pier is provided. You’ll be welcomed aboard the ship. Explore and get comfortable in your home away from home for the extraordinary adventure to come. Savor the anticipation of your Antarctic dreams coming true as the ship slips her moorings and sails toward a true wilderness where wildlife abounds.
As you head south, ocean breezes become cooler and seabirds become more abundant. Keep a sharp eye out for cetaceans such as Commerson’s dolphins and southern right whales in these productive southern seas. Presentations by naturalists and historians prepare you for arrival in the Falkland Islands.
Exploration of the Falklands includes visiting 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, the black-browed albatross has returned to the islands and are just starting to lay their eggs among the tussocks while feisty rockhopper penguins navigate surf-battered cliffs to start building their nests nearby.
On sandy beaches below, gentoo penguins are also starting to lay their eggs while king penguin chicks of all ages look on. They are joined by female elephant seals suckling their newborn pups. 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 that will leave nature lovers breathless.
On these days, the ship will come alongside the wharf at 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, gift shops, and charming pubs. Christ Church Cathedral features an impressive whalebone arch and dramatic views of shipwrecks in the harbor.
If possible, there will be an excursion to 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, who have just started to lay their eggs in burrows by the seashore.
Sail east toward South Georgia, passing the remote, seabird-covered pinnacles known as Shag Rocks on the way. You will also cross the Antarctic Convergence, the biological boundary of the Southern Ocean. Briefings, bio-security procedures, and presentations by lecture staff prepare you for arrival in South Georgia.
Days here 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 the opportunity to see large downy chicks stretching their wings after spending the long Antarctic winter on snowy 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 penguins are coming ashore to start their breeding season. 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. A successfully completed rat eradication program has made this wilderness even more pristine and rich with birdlife.
South Georgia is also home to staggering numbers of southern elephant seals and Antarctic fur seals. At this time, thousands of massive bull elephant seals are defending and occasionally fighting to maintain their harems of females, who have recently given birth. Meanwhile, male fur seals are just arriving to stake out their mating territories. Once hunted nearly to extinction, large whales are also returning to the bountiful seas surrounding South Georgia. With the whalers long gone, the historical whaling station of Grytviken is now home to the South Georgia Museum. Here you will also find the grave of Sir Ernest Shackleton, heroic polar explorer and leader of the famous 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 snowy wilderness, including the famous Shackleton Walk. For those who opt to sea kayak, the wildlife-rich waters of South Georgia offer the chance to paddle with seals and penguins in some of the world’s most scenic waterways.
This is expedition cruising at its most authentic. The 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. The goal is to take every opportunity to go ashore in this challenging environment.
After an amazing stay in South Georgia, proceed southwest toward Antarctica. Keep a constant lookout for humpback and fin whales along the way. The majestic wandering albatross and other graceful subantarctic seabirds are common in these waters and can readily be viewed from panoramic open decks and balconies.
During the next five days, explore 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.
The South Shetland Islands are the northernmost islands in Antarctica and will be your primary area of exploration. 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 Endurance expedition spent the winter of 1916. Continue west to King George Island, home to Antarctic research bases of various nationalities, some with gift shops and post offices.
Weather and ice permitting, you might visit the supremely picturesque Gerlache Strait area of the Antarctic Peninsula, a pristine wilderness of spectacular white landscapes, colossal icebergs, obliging marine mammals, and bustling penguin colonies. It is here that you'll have a chance to land on the continent of Antarctica.
Throughout this area, you'll encounter gentoo, chinstrap and Adélie penguins, sometimes nesting side by side. At this time of the season, all three species are busy courting and mating. This is a good time to observe the importance of pebbles in penguin culture, as prized nesting material to be stolen from rivals and given to mates. Also at this time, high concentrations of sea ice provide more opportunities for seals and penguins to congregate on ice floes, a situation that attracts killer whales. Photographers will appreciate the pristine appearance of fresh, undisturbed snow across the landscape in this early summer month.
Antarctica is a true wilderness with unpredictable weather and ever-changing ice conditions, which will dictate your route and exploration opportunities. With more than 17 hours of daylight per day, seize every chance to experience excellent wildlife viewing and amazing scenery via Zodiac cruises and shore excursions.
It is now time to head north across the Drake Passage toward South America, but the adventure is not quite over. Seabirds are your constant companions and there is always the possibility of whale encounters along the way. This is also the time for festivities such as the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail and the end-of-voyage slideshow. Finally, as the ship enters the Beagle Channel, enjoy a night of smooth sailing toward Ushuaia.
After a final delicious breakfast on board, bid a fond farewell in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. A group transfer is provided to the airport or to the city center if you wish to spend more time in Tierra del Fuego. As you look back on your wonderful experience in the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica, you may already be looking forward to your next polar adventure!
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:
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.
Bilingual Departures: All voyages are conducted in English and German.
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 Buenos Aires, Argentina; group transfer airport/hotel on the day prior to embarkation; group transfer to the ship on embarkation day; group transfer to 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; 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 airport/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); trip cancellation and trip interruption 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 (telephone calls, faxes, and e-mail service); gratuities; pre- or post-cruise travel expenses; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photos © Poseidon Expeditions