Summary : Discover South Georgia—where the density of wildlife is second to none anywhere on Earth. Life is teeming on the beaches with the constant coming and going of King penguins as well as countless Antarctic fur seal pups playing in the surf before adulthood in the open sea. Huge Southern elephant seals may be seen hauled out moulting at this time of year, along with the endemic species South Georgia pipit and the South Georgia pintail. Macaroni penguin chicks are fledging and the Gentoo penguins may be seen moulting in places. The eggs of the Wandering albatrosses have started to hatch and if luck dictates that a landing at Prion Island is possible, a rare site of the white fluffy chick of this most majestic of birds, may be seen. Humpback whales, fin whales, minke whales, blue whales, and possibly even Southern right whales, may be spotted during the trip, too. Those with a passion for polar exploration history will delight in visiting Sir Ernest Shackleton's final route to Stromness, the abandoned whaling station.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
$7,950 to $11,700
In the afternoon, you will embark 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.
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 will be possible to see during this crossing along with several species of whales and dolphins.
Welcome to South Georgia! The density of wildlife is second to none anywhere on Earth and the autumn is the peak of the King penguin numbers on the island. Many king penguin chicks have newly hatched and yet many more parents are still on eggs. Life is teaming on the beaches with the constant coming and going of King penguins as well as the countless Antarctic fur seal pups playing in the surf before beginning adulthood in the open sea. Huge Southern elephant seals may be seen hauled out moulting at this time of year along with the endemic species South Georgia pipit and South Georgia Pintail proliferating after the island-wide rat eradication has taken hold. Macaroni penguin chicks are fledging and the Gentoo penguins may be seen moulting in places. The eggs of the Wandering albatrosses have started to hatch and if luck dictates that a landing at Prion Island is possible, a rare site of the white fluffy chick of this most majestic of birds, may be seen. Light-mantled albatross and Grey-headed albatross also breed on the island and chances are that you can get great encounters with these birds, too. Humpback whales, Fin whales, Minke whales, and possibly even Southern right whales, and Blue whales may be spotted during the trip, too. Weather conditions on South Georgia can be challenging and will largely dictate the program. Sites that may be visited include: Prion Island, where you may witness the breeding efforts of the huge Wandering albatrosses. 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 have to be crossed along the way. 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 will have the chance to visit to the Whaling History Museum as well as to Shackleton’s grave nearby. Salisbury Plain, St Andrews Bay, Gold Harbour, and Right Whale Bay house the four largest King penguin colonies in South Georgia whereas Copper Bay offers a wide variety of wildlife including Macaroni, Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins. You will aim to depart after a pre-breakfast activity on Day 10.
Once again you will cross the Antarctic Convergence zone and head into warmer waters. The bird life is prolific around the ship with numerous species of tube-noses that will follow the ship throughout or sea days north. Keep a sharp lookout for rare species of birds and mammals on the way north. In the past fascinating encounters with rarely seen species have been logged at this time of year.
You will arrive in the morning in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, 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.
Cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea; luggage transfer from pick-up point to the vessel on the day of embarkation in Ushuaia; shore excursions by Zodiac; 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.
Airfare; pre- and post-land arrangements; 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; customary gratuity for the ship's crew; fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © Martin van Lokven; © Rinie van Meurs; © Wim van Passel; © Jan Veen; © Erwin Vermeulen