SOLAR ECLIPSE VOYAGE:
ANTARCTIC PENINSULA, SOUTH GEROGIA, FALKLANDS
|1||Ushuaia, Argentina||Day at leisure. You may wish to explore Tierra Del Fuego National Park, Martial Glacier|
|2||Beagle Channel||Board the ship in the afternoon and set sail down the Beagle Channel.|
|3 & 4||Drake Passage||Giant Petrels and birdlife, possibly South Shetland Islands|
|5 - 6||Antarctic Peninsula||Wildlife and Weddell Sea|
|7||At Sea||Watch the seabirds and look for whales|
|8||South Orkney Islands||Position for Solar Eclipse|
|9||At Sea, Point Wild||Possible landing on Elephant Island|
|10-11||Antarctic Peninsula||Gentoo, Adélie and Chinstrap Penguins, Leopard Seals and Whales, dramatic scenery|
|12 - 13||At Sea||Attend informative lectures with the expedition team|
|14-17||South Georgia||Visit king penguin colonies and pay tribute to Sir Ernest Shackleton|
|21||At Sea||Attend the captain's farewell dinner|
|18-19||At Sea||Enjoy the ships facilities.|
|20||Falkland Islands||See many penguin species and visit Port Stanley|
|22||Ushuaia, Argentina||After Breakfast disembark for your onward journey|
The 2nd purpose built expedition vessel by Aurora Expeditions honours the highly accomplished marine biologist, oceanographer and explorer, Sylvia Earle. As the first female chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and named by Time Magazine as its first Hero for the Planet in 1998 this vessel pays tribute to Sylvia’s long standing conservation efforts for marine protected areas and ocean wildlife.
Besides the same revolutionary Ulstein X BOW hull design like the Greg Mortimer, the Sylvia Earle features a distinctive Glass Atrium Lounge at the bow of the ship with a stunning panoramic view on both port and starboard side, Lecture theatre and lounge, a swimming pool and jacuzzi where you can admire impressive scenery while watching the world go by.
Please Note: The Sylvia Earle is currently under construction so all images are renders.
Arrive in Ushuaia, renowned for its breathtaking scenery. Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world set on the shores of the Beagle Channel. Ushuaia is a major tourist centre, particularly for people cruising to Antarctica. The city offers magnificent hiking in Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego, the only coastal national park in Argentina. After transferring to your downtown hotel, the rest of the day is at your leisure.
After breakfast, check out of your hotel. You will have time to do some more exploring of Ushuaia and surrounds and pick up some last minute items from the local stores. In the afternoon, settle into the Sylvia Earle for an early evening departure down the Beagle Channel.
The Drake Passage offers excellent bird watching from the outer decks or the bridge. Your expedition team presents safety and environmental briefings, and enlightening talks on Antarctica. Keep your eyes peeled for icebergs, penguins, seals and cormorants as we approach our first landing in the South Shetland Islands.
It’s almost impossible to describe the feeling of arriving in Antarctica. Spotting your first iceberg and taking a deep breath of some of the most fresh, crisp air on earth is an experience that will stay with you forever.
Once we arrive, the South Shetland Islands and the area around the Antarctic Sound and entrance to the Weddell Sea are ours to explore, and we have a host of choices available to us. Because we are so far south, we will experience approximately 18-24 hours of daylight and the days can be as busy as you wish.
Your experienced expedition team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to design your voyage from day to day, choosing the best options based on the prevailing weather, ice conditions and wildlife opportunities.
We generally make landings or Zodiac excursions twice a day. You’ll want to rug up before joining Zodiac cruises along spectacular ice cliffs or among grounded icebergs, keeping watch for whales, seals and porpoising penguins. Zodiacs will also transport you from the ship to land, where you can visit penguin rookeries, discover historic huts and explore some of our favourite spots along the peninsula.
While ashore we aim to stretch our legs, wandering along pebbly beaches or perhaps up snow-covered ridgelines to vantage points with mountains towering overhead and ice-speckled oceans below. If you have chosen an optional activity, you’ll have the option to do that whenever conditions allow, and of course keen polar plungers will have the chance to fully immerse themselves in polar waters – conditions permitting!
In addition to Zodiac cruises and shore excursions, we may ship cruise some of the narrow, dramatic straits separating offshore islands from the mainland, or linger in scenic bays to watch whales travelling or feeding. This is a great time to enjoy the observation lounge or make your way to the bridge for uninterrupted views of Antarctica in all its splendour. Keep an ear out for the creak and deep rumble of glaciers as they carve their way from summit to sea, and take a quiet moment to experience the wonder of this incredible white continent.
Central to the story of where Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance became trapped in formidable sea ice, the Weddell Sea certainly is high on the list for many polar adventurers. A small set of islands standing off to the east of the Antarctic Peninsula collectively form the Antarctic Sound – the gateway to the Weddell Sea. With a well-deserved reputation as being an iceberg alley, many large tabular bergs escape the Weddell Sea through the Antarctic Sound, often making navigation difficult. However, the rewards can be great. Fossils are a reminder of a more temperate era – gastropods, large clams, and spiral-shaped ammonites, all turned to stone.
Be spoiled for wildlife encounters as the Weddell boasts a large Adélie penguin colony just outside of the Antarctic Sound, some of which breed on the rocky slopes of a small volcanic island, where a large colony of Antarctic blue-eyed shags jostle for space with nest-building Wilson’s storm petrels. On thrilling Zodiac cruises or slicing a path through the maze of sea ice in your kayak, keep watch for chinstrap and gentoo penguins in and out of the water, as well as humpback, minke and orca whales. Your camera is sure to get a solid workout during your time in the Weddell Sea.
Enjoy a smooth ride as the ship sails towards the South Orkney Islands. Admire the wandering albatross in flight and enjoy lectures and presentations from the expedition team, experts in wildlife, polar exploration and astronomy.
According to NASA, the optimum position to experience the solar eclipse is well into the Weddell Sea. The eclipse is visible from the following geographic regions: Antarctica, South Africa, south Atlantic, but the full eclipse will only be visible in Antarctica, weather permitting.
The instant of greatest eclipse takes place on 04 December, 2021 at 07:34:38 TD (Terrestrial Dynamical Time) or (07:33:28 UT1).
Historically, early December would be considered too early to visit South Orkney Islands because of extensive sea ice. However, conditions have been changing every year and it may be possible to get into the South Orkneys on 04 December, 2021 – the unknown is part of what makes the experience even more thrilling.
The eclipse belongs to Saros 152 and is number 13 of 70 eclipses in the series. All eclipses in this series occur at the Moon’s descending node. The total solar eclipse of 04 December, 2021 is preceded two weeks earlier by a partial lunar eclipse on 19 November, 2021. These eclipses all take place during a single eclipse season – a period during which the Sun appears close enough to one of the Moon’s nodes to allow a solar eclipse to occur. Each season lasts approximately 34 days and repeats at about 173-day intervals.
The climate around the South Orkney Islands is rather harsh, with strong winds, frequent rain and snow. The birdlife of the South Orkneys in abundant. There are some large penguin rookeries that we may explore as well as various seabirds that breed here. Scientists are drawn to the South Orkneys to study the extensive areas of moss and grass, and one of the islands is famous for is peat moss banks.
Enjoy an exciting day at sea, with more entertaining talks on exploration and natural history. Spend time on deck photographing seabirds, keeping a watch for whales or simply sharing stories with fellow adventurers.
Time and weather permitting, we Zodiac cruise and perhaps land at Point Wild on Elephant Wild, where Shackleton’s crew were stranded for 105 days while Shackleton and five others set off to seek help.
Back at the Antarctic Peninsula, we continue our exploration of the small islands, straits and bays around the tip of the white continent. Your expedition team will again use their expertise and experience to create experiences that will challenge you and push you (safely) beyond your comfort zone and to create everlasting memories of your time in Antarctica. Perhaps visit a scientific research station, witness fluffy penguin chicks starting to hatch and running around colonies, while predatory skuas pluck off easy prey. Humpback whales start arriving in larger numbers to feed on plentiful krill, fur seal pups are being born and raised and sea-ice seals are hauled up onto ice floes. Zodiac-cruise among pristine sea ice and photograph glistening, iridescent icebergs.
En route for South Georgia we’ll head across the Scotia Sea, following the route that Shackleton and five of his men took in order to find help for the rest of their crew. On 24 April, 1916, they piled into the James Caird, the most seaworthy of their open boats, to attempt this perilous journey to South Georgia, some 1290 km (802 miles) distant. Shackleton hoped to reach South Georgia in two weeks. There he would enlist the help of the whalers to return to Elephant Island and rescue the men who had been left behind. As excitement builds for South Georgia, catch up with fellow expeditioners in the bar, keep watch for wildlife alongside our naturalist from the open bridge, or learn more of the Shackleton story from our historian.
“Nearly always there were gales. So small was our boat and so great were the seas that often our sail flapped idly in the calm between the crests of two waves. Then we would climb the next slope and catch the full fury of the gale where the wool-like whiteness of the breaking water surged around us.”
– Ernest Shackleton
On the afternoon of day 14 as you near the rugged island of South Georgia, spare a thought for Captain James Cook, who arrived here in 1775 and believed it to be the northern tip of a great southern continent! In fact, it is a small island only 176 km (110 mi) long, but with a 3,000 m (9,842 ft) snow-capped mountain range, some of the world’s largest congregations of wildlife and a truly fascinating human history, South Georgia is an island of incredible riches.
On approach, jagged mountain peaks rise steeply, while seabirds are often spotted soaring around the ship. You’ll sail down the east coast, taking in the spectacular glaciated scenery and enjoying a little shelter from the prevailing westerly winds. This enchanting coastline is yours to explore!
Your experienced expedition team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their local knowledge to plan your voyage from day to day, choosing the best options based on the prevailing weather, sea state and wildlife opportunities.
We generally make landings or Zodiac excursions twice a day. Make sure you layer up before joining Zodiac cruises around craggy coves and along the rocky coastline in search of nesting penguins, seal haul outs and bird cliffs. Remember to keep an eye out for South Georgia’s kelp forests as well – these remarkable underwater ecosystems are quite mesmerising as their fronds sway back and forth on the water’s surface.
Zodiacs will also transport you from ship to shore, where you can visit some of the largest king penguin colonies on earth, take a guided walk among fur seals and elephant seals (making sure you listen to your guides and keep your distance!) and wander along pebbled streams and grassy glacial outwash plains. We also hope to visit the remnants of South Georgia’s thriving whaling stations and pay our respects to Sir Ernest Shackleton, whose incredible voyage of survival is synonymous with this island. If you have chosen an optional activity, you’ll have the option to do that whenever conditions allow.
In addition to Zodiac cruises and shore excursions, we may ship cruise through fjords with towering cliffs of ancient stone, or into deeply indented bays towards dramatic glacier fronts. This is a great time to find a comfy spot in the observation lounge or make your way to the bridge to enjoy uninterrupted views of South Georgia’s majestic coast.
Between South Georgia and the Falklands~Malvinas, you will be entranced by the ceaseless flight of the many seabirds that follow our wake, skilfully using the air currents created by the ship to gain momentum. On this leg, we are usually travelling into the prevailing weather, so it is difficult to estimate our arrival time in the Falklands~Malvinas. Our lecture program will continue and highlight all of the amazing sights we have witnessed over the past few days. We’ll have ample time to enjoy the rest of our time observing the sea birds, whale watching from the bridge, or simply relaxing in the bar with a book.
If time and weather conditions permit, we could pass close to Shag Rocks, a fascinating group of jagged rocky islets protruding from the sea, in the proximity of South Georgia.
The Falklands~Malvinas comprises two large islands (East and West Falkland), with over 700 islands scattered off the coast. All but seven of these are uninhabited, with windswept coastlines, white sand beaches and crystal-clear water. These beautifully barren islands are true wildlife havens, sheltering an impressive diversity of birdlife, including the largest black-browed albatross colony on earth. The cold, nutrient-rich waters surrounding the islands make this a prime location for spotting marine life.
There are many beautiful areas to explore across the Falklands~Malvinas, each offering a unique perspective on this magnificent archipelago. Your experienced expedition team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to design your voyage from day to day, choosing the best options based on the prevailing winds, weather and wildlife opportunities.
We generally make landings or Zodiac excursions twice a day. Even though we’re north of the Antarctic Convergence it can be quite chilly here, so you’ll want to layer up before joining Zodiac cruises into rocky coves or along sea cliffs, keeping watch for seals, sea lions, dolphins and porpoising penguins. Zodiacs will also transport you from the ship to land, where you may be able to visit albatross colonies, penguin rookeries and perhaps even have a traditional English ‘tea and scones’ at a local cottage.
We also aim to land in historic Stanley, the capital of the Falklands~Malvinas. This charming town has a distinctly British character, with terraced town houses, pioneer cottages and even an iconic red telephone box! Colourful buildings house cosy cafes, English pubs, souvenir shops, a post office and the fascinating Historic Dockyard Museum, with displays on the maritime history of the Falkland Islands, natural history and links to Antarctica.
As the Captain steers the ship towards Ushuaia there’s time to watch for seabirds, enjoy entertaining talks, discuss what you’ve seen and learned, exchange photos and stories. Enjoy a farewell dinner with your newfound friends.
Cruise up the Beagle Channel early this morning before slipping into to dock in Ushuaia, where your voyage concludes after breakfast. Farewell your expedition team and disembark the ship. A transfer to town or to the airport is provided.