Summary : South Georgia adds another dimension to your Antarctic adventure. This historic island offers superb photographic opportunities, vast king penguin colonies, fur and elephant seals, and the chance to follow in the wake of one of the great heroes of Antarctic exploration: Sir Ernest Shackleton, who is buried in Grytviken at the foot of South Georgia’s mountain range. On the Falkland Islands, spend time leisurely hiking to penguin rookeries and other unspoiled wildlife habitats, or perhaps stroll the village streets of Port Stanley.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
$14,950 to $21,950
Your voyage begins where the world drops off: Ushuaia, Argentina, reputed to be the southernmost city on the planet, located on the far southern tip of South America. Starting in the afternoon, you embark from this small resort town on Tierra del Fuego—nicknamed “The End of the World”—and sail the scenic, mountain-fringed Beagle Channel for the rest of the evening.
As you sail toward the Falklands, keep an eye out for several species of albatrosses, storm petrels, shearwaters and diving petrels. The waters here are rich in krill, making them a favorite with local wildlife searching for food.
Spend the whole day on the fascinating western side of the archipelago. Hike along the shore of Carcass Island giving views of magellanic and gentoo penguins, but also numerous waders and passerine birds are present. On Saunders Island, observe four species of penguins: gentoo, king, magellanic and rockhopper. You can also see black-browed albatrosses and king cormorants.
Experience the Falkland's unique blend of South American culture and Victorian charm as you wander among colorful houses, well-tended gardens, and English style pubs. The small, but very interesting museum is well worth a visit featuring an exhibition covering the early days of settlement up to the Falklands War of 1982 (admission fees not included).
On the way to South Georgia, cross the Antarctic Convergence. Entering Antarctic currents, the temperature can drop by as much as 10 degrees C in the time span of only a few hours. Nutritious water is brought to the surface by the colliding water columns bringing a multitude of seabirds near the ship such as albatross, shearwaters, petrels, prions and skuas.
In the afternoon, arrive at your first landing site in South Georgia. Sites may include a visit to the bay of Elsehul, with its very active fur seal breeding beach, and then set course to Right Whale Bay, Salisbury Plain, Godthul, St. Andrews Bay, Gold Harbour, Cooper Bay and/or Drygalski Fjord. You will have a wonderful opportunity to see a wide spectrum of landscapes and wildlife, like elephant seals, fur seals, king and macaroni penguins. One of the highlights could be a visit to Prion Island (the island is closed for visitors during breeding season from November 20th – January 7th) to witness the breeding efforts of the huge wandering albatross and enjoy watching their displays.
At Fortuna Bay, you may try to follow in the footsteps of the great British Explorer Ernest Shackleton and hike over to Stømness Bay. There and at Grytviken you’ll see an abandoned whaling village, where king penguins now roam the streets and seals have taken residency. At Grytviken, you’ll also visit the Whaling History Museum as well as Shackleton´s grave. Depart South Georgia in the afternoon of Day 10.
Enjoy time at sea followed by a multitude of seabirds. At some point the ship may encounter sea-ice, and you might have a chance to see some high-Antarctic species like the McCormick Skua and Snow Petrel.
Attempt a visit to Orcadas Station, an Argentinean base located in the South Orkney Islands. The friendly base personnel will show you their facilities while you enjoy the wonderful views of the surrounding glaciers.
Huge icebergs and a good chance of fin whales ensure there’s never a dull moment on this last sea voyage south. Also, your best chance to spot Antarctic petrels occurs here.
If ice permits, you sail into the Weddell Sea. Here colossal tabular icebergs herald your arrival to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. Paulet Island, with its large population of Adélie penguins, is a possible stop. You might also visit Brown Bluff, located in the ice-clogged Antarctic Sound, where you have the chance to set foot on the Continent. In good conditions, your time in the Weddell Sea may be extended. The volcanic islands of the South Shetlands are windswept and often cloaked in mist, but they do offer subtle pleasures: There’s a wide variety of flora (mosses, lichens, flowering grasses) and no small amount of fauna (gentoo penguins, chinstrap penguins, southern giant petrels). Chinstrap penguins and Weddell seals often haul out onto the beach near Cámara Base, an Argentine scientific research station on Half Moon Island. In Deception Island, the ship plunges through Neptune’s Bellows and into the flooded caldera. Here you find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, and thousands of cape petrels—along with a number of kelp gulls, brown and south polar skuas, and Antarctic terns. Wilson’s storm petrels and black-bellied storm petrels also nest in the ruins of the whaling station in Whalers Bay. This extended voyage provides you the chance to sail even farther down the ice-sculpted western Antarctic Peninsula. In Neko Harbour or Paradise Bay, you may be able to set foot on the Antarctic Continent in an epic landscape of alpine peaks and mammoth glaciers calving at sea level. Humpback whales and minke whales are also spotted in this area. After sailing through the Neumayer Channel, you get a chance to visit the former British research station – now a museum and post office – of Port Lockroy on Goudier Island. You may also be able to partake in activities around Jougla Point, meeting gentoo penguins and blue-eyed shags. Cuverville Island is a potential stop in the early hours of your last landing day. Here you can pick around the rocks (if the snow is not too deep) and enjoy the morning in good company: The largest gentoo penguin rookery of the Antarctic Peninsula lives here. You depart at noon, depending on conditions on the Drake Passage.
Heading north, you’ll again be followed by a great variety of seabirds while crossing the infamous Drake Passage.
Arrive in the morning in Ushuaia, disembark and transfer to the airport.
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.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation on this expedition, all passengers must purchase insurance including medical, accident and repatriation/evacuation insurance. 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. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
Voyage aboard the designated vessel as indicated in the itinerary; cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea; free use of rubber boots on loan; group transfer from the vessel to the airport in Ushuaia (directly after disembarkation); lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff; miscellaneous service taxes and port charges. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; pre- and post-land arrangements; transfers to the vessel; passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes; meals ashore; travel insurance; excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as Stanley museum charge, laundry, bar, beverage and telecommunication charges; and the customary gratuity at the end of the voyages for the ship's crew; fuel surcharge may apply.