Antarctica, Falkland Islands & South Georgia
18 Nights / 19 Days
We board the expedition ship in Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city near the tip of Argentina and we start to familiarise yourself with our ‘home’ for the next 19 days. In the early evening we set sail and begin our voyage, leaving Ushuaia behind and charting a course along the Beagle Channel.
Our on-board polar experts will educate us as we explore the wonders of Antarctica. Sailing northeast, we will likely be joined by swooping seabirds including the wandering albatross, which we will come to know well on this journey.
Arriving in the Falklands overnight, by morning we are all keen to make our first shore excursion. Our plan is to explore the islands of the West Falkland archipelago, home to a profusion of seabirds and migratory birds including the black-browed albatross. Our first penguin sightings are on the island of West Point with its bustling rookeries of rockhoppers. On Carcass Island, we observe nesting Magellanic penguins along with oystercatchers, geese and the flightless steamer duck; a permanent Falklands resident. The next day we make a stop in Stanley, capital of the Falkland Islands. As we wander through the charming streets of brightly painted houses, we learn how this quiet harbour was once a major port in the 19th century for ships attempting to round the formidable waters of Cape Horn. We also make a stop at Stanley’s famed philatelic museum with its impressive collection of historic stamps.
We sail southeast bound for the island of South Georgia. The days at sea are never dull and much of our time is spent scanning the horizon in search of whales and other marine mammals, together with seabirds. Our friendly on board experts continue to fill our minds with heroic stories of some of the earliest daredevils to explore Antarctica. We also learn about Polar conservation — a theme particularly close to the hearts of our guides and crew. The anticipation grows as we cross the Antarctic Convergence, where we notice a dramatic drop in temperature.
Majestic snow-covered mountains greet us on the island of South Georgia — the most rugged in the region. We cruise the protected waters of the eastern coast looking for suitable landing spots such as Salisbury Plain and St Andrews Bay. The highlight of both these excursions is the mind-boggling abundance of King penguin adults and young that live in these locations by the hundreds of thousands, covering every inch of the shore. But this is not the only wildlife on display: fur seals can be seen poking their heads above the water, skuas and giant petrels swoop in the skies above, and the albatross - our constant companion - is never far away. We hope to explore an old whaling station at Grytviken and visit the grave of the most famous Antarctic explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton.
As we cross the Scotia Sea, sailing ever closer to Antarctica, we hope to visit the South Orkney Islands. Linked to the Antarctic Peninsula by an enormous sub-marine mountain range these islands, often shrouded in mist, and are protected by large icebergs and sea ice. If we are lucky, there will be an excursion to Coronation Island to observe penguins nesting in moss beds alongside graceful snow petrels. We may also stop at the remote island of Laurie and visit the Argentine meteorological station located there.
Elephant Island is en route to the South Shetland Islands and is our next destination. En route, we learn more about the celebrated adventures of Sir Ernest Shackleton. This island was a place of refuge in 1916 for Shackleton and his crew after his ship was destroyed by pack ice in the Weddell Sea. We then spend time cruising among the South Shetland Islands just off the Antarctic Peninsula. Dazzling wildlife sightings await us on our excursions to some of these islands including King George, Half Moon, Aicho or Livingston. Adélie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins thrive here, as do several species of seal. Hopefully, we see the gentle humpback whale dining on krill off King George Island. Weather permitting; we visit the flooded volcanic caldera of Deception Island. There is a spectacular walk to the higher points of the crater rim and an abandoned whaling station nearby begs exploration. Finally, after so much anticipation, we arrive at the Antarctic mainland in Paradise Harbour or nearby Hope Bay. The scenery, from the colossal icebergs to the seemingly endless Antarctic ice sheet is truly breath-taking. Here we set foot on the ‘white continent’ itself.
As we leave Antarctica and make our way back, across the Antarctic Convergence and the Drake Passage, we attempt a rounding of Cape Horn. Sailing down the Beagle Channel, we celebrate the conclusion of our Polar expedition with a special dinner.
In the early morning, we arrive back in Ushuaia. It is time farewell to our crew and fellow travellers. You will be transported to your hotel or to the airport for your onward flights.
Dates & Prices:
2015 Jan 31 Vessel: Akademik Ioffe
2014 Dec 28 2015 Feb 06 Vessel: Akademik Sergey Vavilov
***PLEASE NOTE THAT PRICES ARE BASED ON US$***
Vessel: Akademik Ioffe
Date: Triple Twin (semi-private) Twin (private) Superior Shackleton Ocean Suite
31 Jan $13895 $16595 $18295 $19395 $20095 $22695
Vessel: Akademik Sergey Vavilov
Date: Triple Twin (semi-private) Twin (private) Superior Shackleton Suite Ocean Suite
28 Dec $13895 $16595 $18295 $19395 $20095 $22695
06 Feb $13895 $16595 $18295 $19395 $20095 $22695