Summary : Enjoy all of the best Antarctic highlights in one voyage, with spectacular landing sites on the Antarctic Peninsula, the Falkland Islands, and South Georgia. This voyage includes four days on South Georgia—one of the most beautiful places on Earth. 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
$13,200 to $20,800
Embark in the afternoon in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world located at the Beagle Channel and sail through this scenic waterway for the rest of the evening.
At sea, in the westerlies the ship will be followed by several species of albatrosses, storm petrels, shearwaters, 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. A hike along the shore of Carcass Island may show you anything from breeding Magellanic and gentoo penguins to numerous waders and passerine birds (including Cobb’s wren and the tussock-bird) live here. And on Saunders Island 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. In Stanley and the surrounding area we can see quite an important number of stranded clippers from a century ago. All passengers are free to wander around on their own. Consider a visit to the local church and museum (admission fees not included).
On your way to South Georgia you will cross the Antarctic Convergence. Entering Antarctic waters, the temperature may drop significantly in the time span of only a few hours. Near the Convergence we will see a multitude of southern seabirds near the ship; several species of Albatrosses, Shearwaters, Petrels, Prions, and Skuas.
You arrive at the first South Georgia activity site on day seven. Weather conditions here can be challenging and largely dictate the program. Over the next several days, you have a chance to visit the following sites:
Prion Island – This location is closed during the early part of the breeding season (November 20 – January 7). The previous summer’s wandering albatross chicks are almost ready to fledge, and adults are seeking out their old partners after a year and a half at sea.
Salisbury Plain, St. Andrews Bay, Gold Harbour – These locations not only house the three largest king penguin colonies in South Georgia, they’re also three of the largest breeding beaches for southern elephant seals in the world. Only this time of year do they peak in their breeding cycle. Watch the four-ton bulls keep a constant vigil (and occasionally fight) over the territories where dozens of females have just given birth or are about to deliver. You can also see a substantial number of Antarctic fur seals here during the breeding season (December – January).
Fortuna Bay – Near beaches inhabited by penguins and seals, you have the chance to follow the final section of Shackleton’s route to the abandoned whaling village of Stromness. This route cuts across the mountain pass beyond Shackleton’s Waterfall. But the terrain here is partly swampy, so be prepared to cross some small streams along the way.
Grytviken – You have the opportunity to check out this abandoned whaling station, where king penguins now walk the streets and elephant seals lie around like they own the place – because they just about do. You might see the South Georgia Museum as well as Shackleton’s grave.
Cooper Bay – A great place for a Zodiac cruise, this bay also houses a rookery of macaroni penguins. King penguins, pintails, and giant petrels may also appear here.
Enjoy time at sea followed by a multitude of seabirds. At some point the ship may encounter sea-ice, and it is at this ice-edge where you might have a chance to see some high-Antarctic species like the McCormick Skua and Snow Petrel.
Visit Orcadas Station, an Argentinean base located in the South Orkney Islands. The friendly base personnel will give you a tour of their facilities while you enjoy the wonderful views of the surrounding glaciers.
Enroute to the Antarctic Peninsula.
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. The plan is 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 braves 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 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.
Heading north, you’ll again be followed by a great selection 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.
Polar Diving: 2/16/2019
Dive under shallow water, down along walls, from the beach, or from a Zodiac. You will reach a maximum of 60 feet. Unlike no other dive—the combination of water, sunlight, and ice formations creates an ever-shifting spectacle of colors. Space is limited; request at time of booking. Participants will dive in group of eight divers per guide, with a maximum of 24 divers per excursion. Compressors and weights are provided. Participants must bring their own dry suit with hood and additional equipment. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for a complete list. This activity is available for experienced divers. Participants are required to present their internationally accepted diver certificate, diver's logbook, and a statement from their doctor (not older than two years) that demonstrates they are in a good state of physical health allowing them to scuba dive. Experience with both cold water diving and dry suit diving (at least 30 dives) is required. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Enjoy walking excursions of 2-3 hours with knowledgable, experienced guides. Sturdy, knee-high boots are provided. Groups of 10-20 passengers per excursion.
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 and snowshoes on loan; pre-scheduled 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; all shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac; program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff; miscellaneous service taxes and port charges; comprehensive pre-departure material. 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.