Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica – Expedition
|Resort:||Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica - Expedition|
From Ushuaia we head northeast to the Falkland Islands. This archipelago of over 400 islands is an important breeding ground for penguins, elephant seals and sea lions and an abundance of seabirds along the endless beaches, including the blackbrowed albatross. We spend time in Stanley, the most isolated capital in the world, and learn about the island’s heritage. South Georgia ‘The Alps in mid-ocean’ Often described as the gem of the Southern Ocean, the splendour of South Georgia is hard to describe – stunning snow capped mountain landscapes, deep fjords, tousled tussock grasses and wild beaches all combine to provide superb stunning photo opportunities. Here is the most important colony of king penguins, fur seals and elephant seals and it is estimated that over 10 million sea birds visit South Georgia each year. During the spring months the hillsides are carpeted with wild flowers. The islands are steeped in the history of Antarctic exploration and here we find the grave of Sir Ernest Shackleton, possibly the most accomplished and courageous of all polar explorers. We push further south and on to Antarctica. En route we hope to visit a wealth of evocative locations, such as the British research station of Port Lockroy in the silent Neumayer Channel, the sunken caldera of Deception Island, the rookeries of Chinstrap, see Adlie, Macaroni and Gentoo penguins on bluffs, points and bays along the way, and perhaps even swim in the hot springs of Pendulum Cove.
Sail to the Falkland Islands – explore this incredible archipelago
Day 1 Join trip in Ushuaia
Arrive in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. The city has 40,000 inhabitants and is a major ski resort area for both alpine and cross-country skiers.
You can arrive at any time and an arrival transfer is included if arriving in on day one of the itinerary. Upon arrival into Ushuaia City Airport (USH) please collect your luggage and look for a representative in the Arrivals Hall, holding a sign with your name on it. If you have booked your flights independently, please make sure that you have advised us of your arrival flight details into Ushuaia, so that a transfer is booked for you. Be sure to keep all of your important documents – i.e. passport and travel insurance, and also your medication in your hand luggage, as your main luggage will be transferred separately to the hotel.
From our experience we have found that there are significant delays, especially in high season on flights from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia. We highly recommend booking your travel arrangements to arrive into Ushuaia earlier in the day.
There are no activities planned today. If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to explore the city, visit the Maritime Museum or join a tour to Tierra del Fuego National Park, which offers magnificent hiking opportunities.
Day 2 Ushuaia
Board the Expedition mid-afternoon. Enjoy the evening sailing through the Beagle Channel.
Day 3 At Sea
As we make the passage east, you have time to become acquainted with the ship – your home for the next three weeks. We also begin the lecture and information sessions to learn about the extraordinary human and natural history of the Antarctic region.
Day 4 The Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands provide a rare opportunity to witness the biological diversity and extraordinary scenery of the southern islands. Penguins, elephant seals and sea lions are abundant. Port Stanley provides an opportunity to meet the hardy local inhabitants whose colourful houses provide contrast to the long dark winters.
Day 5 The Falkland Islands
The islands consist of 700 small and mostly uninhabited islands and 2 main islands – East and West Falklands. Located 490 km east of Patagonia, the Falklands were officially discovered on August 14, 1592 by John Davis and remained uninhabited until 1764 when the French built a garrison at Port Louis disregarding the Spanish claim to the islands. From that moment on there have been many disputes between Spain, France, Britain and Argentina, until the end of the Falklands War between Britain and Argentina in 1982 brought the islands firmly under Britain’s control. Now with a human population of only 2491, the islands are the first stop in our journey. Here we hope to catch our first glimpses of penguins, including the Magellanic, rockhopper, macaroni, gentoo, and king penguins. With a little luck we may also see the elephant seals, sea lions, king cormorants, black-browed albatross, skuas, night herons, giant petrels, striated caracaras and of course sheep!
Day 6 The Great Southern Ocean
Sailing east we’ll set course for South Georgia Island.
Day 7 The Great Southern Ocean
Our days at sea will be filled with lectures to prepare us for South Georgia and we will have plenty of time on deck to identify the abundant sea birds of the southern ocean. We also keep our eye peeled for the whales that inhabit these waters.
Day 8 South Georgia
South Georgia Island is home to many marvels including Shackleton’s grave, several former whaling stations, incredible scenery and prolific wildlife. Weather permitting, we will have three full days to explore this island and it’s huge colony of king penguins – a key highlight of this part of the journey! On nearby islands we also hope to spot wandering albatross in their nesting grounds.
Day 9 South Georgia
Known for its brutal whaling and exploratory history, this 170 km long and 40 km wide island is considered the first gateway to Antarctica and was the centre of the huge Southern Ocean whaling industry from 1904 to 1966. The famous captain James Cook was the first to land on South Georgia on January 17, 1775 and named the island after King George III. During the 62 years of whaling activities, any number between 183 whales the first year and the record 7825 whales in 1925-26 seasons were killed annually for their oil. Whales weren’t the only animals hunted for their oil at that time. A total of 498,870 seals – mostly giant elephant seals – were also slaughtered. Since the end of whaling activities 40 years ago, wildlife has slowly returned to the island. Today the Island’s wildlife is extraordinary, not only in its variety, but also for its sheer abundance. South Georgia is home to roughly 300,000 elephant seals, 3 million fur seals, and 25 species of breeding birds, including wandering albatrosses. The gravel beach at St. Andrews Bay has a king penguin rookery of 100,000 and an estimated five million macaroni penguins.
Day 10 South Georgia
The British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton landed at King Haakon Bay on the southwest coast after the 800-mile journey in a 20-foot open boat from Elephant Island. They proceeded to hike the ice covered mountainous terrain, arriving to Stromness whaling station on May 20, 1916. Shackleton returned to South Georgia in 1922 for one last assault on Antarctica but passed away after suffering a major heart attack while in his cabin. He was buried at the whaler’s cemetery at Grytviken station at the request of his wife.
Day 11 South Georgia
One final day to enjoy the exhilarating sights of South Georgia before heading towards the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic peninsula.
Day 12 The Scotia Sea
We turn south and sail for two days, retracing Shackleton’s route backwards as we head towards Elephant Island.
Day 13 The Scotia Sea
The South Shetland waters are rich with nutrients and the long summer days provide the ingredient that is missing most of the year. The result is a complex food chain topped by several species of whales, seals and seabirds.
Day 14 Antarctica & the South Shetland Islands
This is what we’ve all been waiting for – a chance to step foot on the Great White Continent ! Over the next 4 days we will navigate southwards, making stops in the South Shetland Islands then through the Bransfield Strait and onto the Antarctic Peninsula. Our goal is to attempt two excursions per day, but our itinerary and daily schedule will be based on the local weather and ice conditions that we encounter as we navigate through these parts.
Day 15 Antarctica & the South Shetland Islands
The Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands abound with wildlife activity. Penguins gather with their fast-growing chicks, whales are seen in great numbers, seals haul out onto ice floes and numerous albatross and other seabirds trail in our wake.
Day 16 Antarctica & the South Shetland Islands
There is plenty of time to enjoy the sheer beauty and the breathtaking scenery of ice-choked waterways, blue and white icebergs, impressive glaciers and rugged snow-capped mountains. The Peninsula also has a remarkable history and, during the voyage, we will learn about some of the most important and dramatic expeditions to this remote corner of the world.
Day 17 Antarctica & the South Shetland Islands
Keeping a lookout from the Bridge or the deck of the ship, as we thread our way along the continent, you’ll feel the same sense of excitement as many of those early Explorers. The continent itself is roughly circular with a spindly arm, called the Antarctic Peninsula, reaching northwards towards Tierra del Fuego. South America is the nearest landmass, some 600 miles away.
Day 18 Antarctica & the South Shetland Islands
Antarctica is a continent of superlatives. It is the coldest, windiest, iciest and highest of all the major landmasses in the world. It is the continent with the longest nights and the longest days and it is home to the world’s greatest concentration of wildlife. It is also one of the last true wilderness areas left on earth – largely unchanged since the early Explorers and Whalers first landed on its inhospitable shores less than two centuries ago.
Day 19 The Drake Passage
Heading north across the Drake Passage, we spend two days enjoying the beauty of the sea, as we sail towards Ushuaia.
Day 20 The Drake Passage
Reflect on your memorable adventure and take in some final lectures or enjoy the passing scenery and birdlife up on deck. Don’t forget to keep a careful lookout for your last chance to spot whales.
Day 21 Trip ends in Ushuaia
The trip ends after breakfast on board the ship.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart at any time after 9am. You will receive a complimentary transfer at the end of your trip. For those on morning flights, a transfer will take you directly to Ushuaia City Airport (USH). For those on later flights, you will be transferred to the luggage storage point and given time to explore the city. You will need to return later to retrieve your luggage and board a second transfer to Ushuaia City Airport in the afternoon, depending on flight times.