FALKLANDS, SOUTH GEORGIA & ANTARCTICA
|1||Buenos Aires, Argentina||Arrive into Buenos Aires and stay in hotel for the evening|
|2||Embarkation in Buenos Aires||Embark on the Sea Spirit for your incredible adventure|
|3 - 5||At Sea||South Atlantic Ocean towards the Falklands|
|6 & 7||Falkland Islands||Immerse yourself in the incredible birdlife and landscapes of the Falkland Islands|
|8 & 9||At Sea||Southern Ocean towards South Georgia|
|10 - 13||South Georgia Island||Experience the incredible wildlife of this historical island|
|14 & 15||At Sea||Scotia Sea towards Antarctica|
|16 - 20||South Shetland Islands & Antarctic Peninsula||Nothing can prepare you for the incredible experience on the white continent|
|21 & 22||Drake Passage||Cross this historic stretch of water for your return to South America|
|23||Ushuaia, Argentina||Disembark in Ushuaia for the end of your Antarctic adventure|
The Sea Spirit was built in Italy in 1991. She’s a very comfortable ice-strengthened, small (114 guests), all-suite expedition ship. The vessel was updated in late 2010 and had additional refurbishment in April 2017. All suites have private facilities and exterior views. Some of the suites feature private balconies for enjoying fantastic landscapes of Antarctica.
She has a fleet of ten rubber inflatable zodiac boats for landings, an experienced crew, and a set of retractable fin stabilizers for smooth sailing. This ship features an open bridge, 2 rear outdoor viewing areas, an outdoor viewing area at the front of the vessel, a bar, lounge, presentation room and dining area all lined with windows. There is also a gym on-board as well as a library and media centre.
Welcome to Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. The name of the city can be translated as “fair winds” but it is also referred to as the “Paris of South America”. This is an exuberant brew of traditions, languages and different types of cultures.
Upon your arrival at the airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel, which is included in the price of the voyage. For the rest of the day you are free to explore this welcoming city. In the evening you may be interested in attending a tango show or visiting one of the fabulous restaurants.
Take the group transfer to the pier where you will be welcomed on board the luxury expedition ship M/V Sea Spirit. Explore the ship and get comfortable in your home away from home for the extraordinary adventure to come. Savor the anticipation of your Antarctic dreams coming true as we slip our moorings and sail toward a true wilderness where wildlife abounds.
Sailing south through the South Atlantic Ocean toward the Falkland Islands, keep a lookout for dolphins and whales. Presentations and workshops by the expert staff, as well as the range of on board recreation facilities, ensure that these days at sea are not idly spent. The ship’s stabilizing fins provide comfort in the event of rough seas.
Your exploration of the Falklands includes visiting the isolated outlying islands. These bleakly beautiful isles are havens for wildlife. Large colonies of seabirds, perched on windy bluffs overlooking azure seas, are easily accessible by hiking over lush meadows. At this time, black-browed albatross have returned to the islands and are just starting to lay their eggs amongst the tussocks while feisty rockhopper penguins leap up surf-battered cliffs to start building their nests nearby.
On sandy beaches below, gentoo penguins are also starting to lay their eggs while king penguin chicks of all ages look on. They are joined by female elephant seals suckling their newborn pups. Just offshore, you may see Peale’s dolphins and even killer whales patrolling the coasts. A wide range of land birds, including the endemic Cobb’s wren and inquisitive striated caracara, contribute to an abundance of wildlife that will leave nature lovers breathless.
On these days you can intend to come alongside the wharf at Stanley, the historic capital of the Falkland Islands. Attractions within pleasant walking distance along the waterfront promenade include the Falkland Islands Museum, the governor’s house, various war memorials, quality gift shops, and charming pubs. Christ Church Cathedral features an impressive whalebone arch and dramatic views of shipwrecks in the harbour.
The plan is to go on an excursion to Gypsy Cove, a national nature reserve where white sand beaches are frequented by numerous bird species, including the endemic Falklands flightless steamer duck. Here you can also see Magellanic penguins, who have just started to lay their eggs in burrows by the seashore.
The ship will head east toward South Georgia. On the way pass the Shag Rocks, remote seabird-covered pinnacles. You will cross the Antarctic Convergence which is a biological boundary of the Southern Ocean. Clear your camera’s memory as we sail towards the “capital” of Antarctic wildlife and attend on board presentations from expert staff.
The next five days will be devoted to the exploration of the unique and spectacular wilderness of South Georgia, home to some of the greatest concentrations of wildlife on the planet. This isolated subantarctic island is said to host upwards of 100 million seabirds, including numerous species of albatross, penguins, prions, petrels, shags, skuas, gulls and terns. Among these is one of the largest flying birds in the world—the wandering albatross. Here you have the opportunity to see large downy chicks stretching their wings after spending the long Antarctic winter on snowy nests overlooking the wild Southern Ocean.
On South Georgia’s legendary beaches, king penguins are gathered in huge colonies that stretch from sandy shorelines to the foothills of glaciated mountains. Also at this time, hundreds of thousands of macaroni penguins are coming ashore to start their breeding season. Rare birds such as the endemic South Georgia pipit and yellow-billed pintail round out the list of 78 bird species found across the territory. The successfully completed rat eradication program has made this wilderness even more pristine and rich with birdlife.
South Georgia is also home to staggering numbers of southern elephant seals and Antarctic fur seals. At this time, thousands of massive bull elephant seals are defending and occasionally fighting to maintain their harems of females, who have recently given birth. Meanwhile, male fur seals are just arriving to stake out their mating territories. Once hunted nearly to extinction, large whales are also returning to the bountiful seas surrounding South Georgia. With the whalers long gone, the historical whaling station of Grytviken is now home to the excellent South Georgia Museum. Here you will also find the grave of Sir Ernest Shackleton, heroic polar explorer and leader of the famous Endurance expedition.
In this rugged yet accessible environment, superb wildlife viewing is best complemented by active adventure. There are many opportunities for guided treks through this snowy wilderness, including the famous Shackleton Walk. For sea kayakers, the wildlife-rich waters of South Georgia offer the chance to paddle with hordes of seals and penguins in some of the world’s most scenic waterways.
This is expedition cruising at its most authentic. Our precise route and exploration opportunities are dependent on weather in this wild and remote corner of the world. Our experienced captain and expedition leader will continually adjust plans to take maximum advantage of the conditions and circumstances at hand. You can be sure that we will take every safe opportunity to go ashore in this challenging environment.
After your amazing time in South Georgia, proceed southwest toward Antarctica. Keep a constant lookout for humpback and fin whales along the way. The majestic wandering albatross and other graceful sub-antarctic seabirds are common in these waters and can readily be viewed from panoramic open decks and balconies.
During the next five days, you will explore the Antarctic Peninsula. This region contains some of the world’s most impressive scenery and the best wildlife viewing in Antarctica. Sheltered bays and channels sparkle with ice and reflect towering mountain peaks coated in permanent snow and immense glaciers. Icebergs of every size and description complete an image of incomparable beauty. Waters rich with krill are home to huge numbers of marine mammals and seabirds. The whole area is alive with penguins foraging at sea and forming large rookeries at special places on land.
The South Shetland Islands are the northernmost islands in Antarctica and will be your primary area of exploration. This wildly beautiful island chain contains many landing sites with historical significance and abundant wildlife. Among them is Elephant Island, where men from Shackleton’s Endurance expedition spent the winter of 1916. Continue west to King George Island, home to numerous Antarctic research bases of various nationalities, some with gift shops and post offices.
Weather and ice permitting, you can also hope to visit the supremely picturesque Gerlache Strait area of the Antarctic Peninsula, a pristine wilderness of spectacular white landscapes, colossal icebergs, obliging marine mammals and bustling penguin colonies. Here you have a chance to land on the continent of Antarctica.
Throughout this area, encounter gentoo, chinstrap and Adélie penguins, sometimes nesting side by side. At this time of the season, all three species are busy courting and mating. This is a good time to observe the importance of pebbles in penguin culture, as prized nesting material to be stolen from rivals and given to mates. Also at this time, very high concentrations of sea ice provide more opportunities for seals and penguins to congregate on ice floes, a situation that attracts killer whales. Photographers will appreciate the pristine appearance of fresh, undisturbed snow across the landscape in this early summer month.
Antarctica is a true wilderness with unpredictable weather and ever-changing ice conditions, which will dictate your route and exploration opportunities. With more than 17 hours of daylight per day, seize every chance to experience excellent wildlife viewing and amazing scenery via Zodiac cruises and shore excursions.
It is now time to head north across the Drake Passage toward South America, but the adventure is not quite over. Seabirds are your constant companions and there is always the possibility of whale encounters in these wild waters. This is also the time for festivities such as the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail and the end-of-voyage slideshow. Finally, as you enter the calm Beagle Channel, enjoy a night of smooth sailing toward Ushuaia.
After breakfast say farewell in the city of Ushuaia. A group transfer to the airport or to the town centre if you wish to spend more time here, is included. As you look back on your wonderful experience in Antarctica, you may already be looking forward to your next incredible adventure to the ice!
To make the most of your time in South America we can tailor a holiday to Patagonia to suit your voyage dates. If you have a bit more time we can create a tailor-made itinerary to some of the highlights of South America. Take a look at some sample Patagonia itineraries below and contact us to begin creating your perfect holiday.