Summary : Discover the unique wildlife and vast, breathtaking landscapes of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and the Antarctic Peninsula. Starting from Puerto Madryn, sail to the Malvinas, the Western portion of the Falklands, where the largest Black-browed Albatross colony in the world is located—approximately 113,000 birds! In Stanley, the capital of the Falklands, you can experience Falkland culture, which has some South American characteristics as well as Victorian charm, colorful houses, well-tended gardens, and English style pubs. Sail onward to the remote wildlife haven of South Georgia—where you will be greeted by elephant seals and King penguins lining the beach. Follow in the footsteps of polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton’s route to Stromness, the abandoned whaling village. The route leads you across the mountain pass past the 'Shackleton Waterfall'. From there, travel to the South Orkney Islands, where you will have the opportunity to visit the Orcadas station, an Argentinean base located on Laurie Island. Here you can enjoy the wonderful views of the surrounding glaciers. Then, if the ice permits you will sail into the Weddell Sea through the ice-clogged Antarctic Sound. Huge tabular icebergs will announce your arrival to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. Enjoy your time in one of the last unspoiled wildernesses on the planet!
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
$12,150 to $17,550
You embark from Puerto Madryn in the afternoon, your prow aimed for the Falkland Islands. Golfo Nuevo is renowned for its visiting southern right whales, so you have a good chance of spotting one as you sail toward the open ocean.
Enjoy the view while at sea, where your ship will be followed by several species of albatrosses, as well as storm petrels, shear waters, and diving petrels.
The Falkland (Malvinas) Islands offer an abundance of wildlife, easily approachable—with caution. These islands are largely unknown gems, primarily remembered for the war between the UK and Argentina in 1982. Not only do various species of bird live here, but chances are great you’ll see both Peale’s dolphins and Commerson’s dolphins in the surrounding waters. During this part of the voyage, you may visit the following sites:
Steeple Jason – Home to the world’s largest black-browed albatross colony (roughly 113,000), Steeple Jason is a wild and rarely visited island buffeted by the wind and waves. Weather and swell conditions dictate the journey here.
Carcass Island – Despite its name, this island is pleasantly rodent-free and hence bounteous with birdlife. Anything from breeding Magellanic and gentoo penguins to numerous waders and passerine birds (including Cobb’s wren and the tussock-bird) live here.
Saunders Island – Here you can see the black-browed albatross and its sometimes-clumsy landings, along with breeding imperial shags and rockhopper penguins. King penguins, Magellanic penguins, and gentoo penguins are also found here.
In Stanley, the capital of the Falklands, you can experience Falkland culture, which has some South American characteristics as well as Victorian charm, colorful houses, well-tended gardens, and English style pubs. In Stanley and the surrounding area, you can see quite a number of stranded clippers from a century ago. They bear witness to the hardships of sailors in the 19th Century. 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. Approximately 2,100 people live in the small capital, where you will be free to wander around on your own to explore and connect with locals.
On your way to South Georgia you will cross the Antarctic Convergence. Entering Antarctic currents, the temperature will drop considerably in the time span of only a few hours. Nutritious water is brought to the surface by the colliding water columns, which brings a multitude of seabirds near the ship: several species of albatrosses, shearwaters, petrels, prions and skuas.
In the early afternoon, you will arrive at your first landing site in South Georgia. One of many highlights is a visit to Prion Island (Note: the island is closed for visitors during breeding season from 20 Nov – 07 January), where the previous summer’s fully grown chicks of the huge Wandering Albatross are almost ready to fledge and adults are returning to seek their old partner after a year and a half at sea.
Salisbury Plain, St Andrews Bay and Gold Harbour do not only house the three largest King penguin colonies in South Georgia but are also three of the largest breeding beaches for Southern Elephant seals in the world. Only at this time of the year do they peak in their breeding cycle. Watch the incredible spectacle of large 4 ton bulls keep a constant vigil and occasionally fight over territories of dozens of females who have just given birth or are about to deliver. The beaches are packed with lively elephant seals!
In Fortuna Bay, penguins and seals inhabit the beaches. You may follow the final section of Shackleton’s route to Stromness, the abandoned whaling village. The route leads you across the mountain pass past the 'Shackleton Waterfall'. The terrain is partly swampy and some small streams may be crossed along the way (hiking boots or sturdy rubber boots recommended).
At Grytviken, you will also see an abandoned whaling station, where King penguins now walk in the streets and Elephant seals have taken residency. Here you can also pay a visit to the Whaling History Museum as well as Shackleton’s grave nearby.
Set sail again, where the ship is again followed by a multitude of seabirds. At some point you might encounter sea ice. It is at the ice's edge where you might have a chance to see some high Antarctic species like the South Polar Skua and Snow Petrel.
Visit Orcadas station, an Argentinean base located on Laurie Island in the South Orkney Island archipelago. The friendly base personnel will show you their facilities and you can enjoy the wonderful views of the surrounding glaciers. Alternatively, you may attempt a landing in Shingle Cove on Signy Island.
Today you will pass large icebergs and have a good chance of seeing Fin Whales on the way south. You will also have the best chances on the trip to see Antarctic Petrels around the ship!
If the ice permits you will sail into the Weddell Sea through the ice-clogged Antarctic Sound. Huge tabular icebergs will announce your arrival to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. You will plan to visit Paulet Island with a huge number of Adélie penguins and Brown Bluff where you may set foot on the Continent. In good sailing conditions you may decide to extend your time in the Weddell Sea.
The volcanic islands of the South Shetlands are windswept and often shrouded in mist, but do offer subtle pleasures. There is a nice variety of flora (mosses, lichens and flowering grasses) and fauna, such as Gentoo Penguins, Chinstrap Penguins and Southern Giant Petrels. On Half Moon Island you will find Chinstrap Penguins and Weddell Seals often haul out on the beach near the Argentinean station Camara. In Deception Island your ship will brave into the entrance of the crater through the spectacular Neptune’s Bellows. Deception itself is a sub-ducted crater which opens into the sea creating a natural harbour for the ship. Here you will find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, thousands of Cape Petrels and many Kelp Gulls, Brown and South Polar Skuas and Antarctic Terns. Wilson’s Storm Petrels and Black-bellied Storm Petrels nest in the ruins of the whaling station in Whalers Bay.
In Neko Harbour or Paradise Bay you will have the opportunity to set foot on the Antarctic Continent in a magnificent landscape of huge glaciers calving at sea level. You will enjoy the landscape surrounded by alpine peaks. In this area you will have good chances to see Humpback Whales and Minke Whales. After sailing through the Neumayer Channel, you will hopefully get a chance to visit the old British research station, now living museum and post office at Port Lockroy on Goudier Island. Close to Port Lockroy you may also be able to endeavor a landing on Jougla Point with Gentoo Penguins and Blue-eyed Shags. If ice conditions allow you may opt to venture as far south as the Lemaire Channel to explore the opportunities for landings. In the early hours of your last landing day you will hope to land at Cuverville Island with the several thousand Gentoo penguins in the largest Gentoo rookery of the Antarctic Peninsula. You will then depart to the Drake Passage around noon of day 18 through the Melchior Islands.
At sea again today, you will chart your course north followed by an entourage of seabirds as you cross the Drake Passage.
Arrive in Ushuaia in the morning and disembark.
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.
Walking in showshoes is easy and does not require any technical skills. With the use of snowshoes it is easier and safer to walk on snow surfaces. Snowshoes will be provided to everyone on board.
Voyage aboard the designated vessel as indicated in the itinerary; cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea; group transfer from the vessel to the airport in Ushuaia (directly after disembarkation); luggage transfer from pick-up point to the vessel on the day of embarkation, in Ushuaia; Zodiac rides; program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff; miscellaneous service taxes and port charges; comprehensive pre-departure material; gear on loan (rubber boots and snowshoes). Subject to change without notice.
Any 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 laundry, bar, beverage charges and telecommunication charges; and the customary gratuity at the end of the voyages for the ship's crew; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photos: © Dietmar Denger; © Erwin Vermeulen; © Martin van Lokven; © Rinie van Meurs; © Wim van Passel