Falkland Islands, South Georgia & Antarctica

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20 DAYS

ITINERARY SUMMARY

 

Day Place Highlights
Day 1 Ushuaia  Arrive in Ushuaia and embark on your Antarctic voyage
Day 2 At Sea Look out for sea birds, meet the expedition team
Day 3-4 Falkland Islands Sea birds, penguins, Port Stanley
Day 5-6 At Sea Sea birds, lectures on board
Day 7-10 South Georgia Majestic Mountains, elephant seals, king penguins
Day 11-13 Towards Antarctica  South Orkneys or Elephant Island
Day 14-17 Antarctic Mainland  South Shetland Islands, Mikkelson Harbour or Cieva Cove, wildlife
Day 18-19 Drake Passage  Cape Horn
Day 20 Ushuaia  Your voyage ends after breakfast
   
Falkland Islands South Georgia Antarctica

Day 1 Ushuaia

Ushuaia, Argentina
Overview:

Ushuaia is known as the southernmost city in the world (although, with a population of around 60,000, really more of a large town) and is a major tourist centre, particularly for people cruising to Antarctica. The town is also a major ski resort area for both alpine and cross-country skiers and offers magnificent hiking in Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego, the only coastal national park in Argentina.

Today is the first day of your adventure. Your morning is at leisure to do any last minute shopping, take an optional excursion to Tierra del Fuego National Park, or perhaps make a good hike up to the Martial Glacier. This afternoon board the ship and settle in to your cabin. In the early evening set sail, leaving behind Ushuaia and charting a course through the Beagle Channel. You will meet your expedition team, crew and fellow travellers over a welcome dinner.

Day 2 At Sea

As the ship sails towards the Falklands, you will have the chance to spend plenty of time with the on-board polar experts who will be pleased to educate you about the wonders of Antarctica, the Falkland Islands and South Georgia with a number of lectures and information sessions scheduled covering the flora, fauna, the science and the extraordinary human and natural history of the Antarctic region, providing an excellent introduction to this region.  Sailing northeast, you’ll likely be joined by swooping seabirds including the wandering albatross.

Days 3-4 Falkland Islands

stanley-falkland-islands

The Falklands consist of 700 small and mostly uninhabited islands and two main islands – East and West Falkland. Located 490km east of Patagonia, the Falklands have always been a land of hot debate. Officially discovered on August 14, 1592 by John Davis they remained uninhabited until 1764 when the French built a garrison at Port Louis, disregarding the Spanish claim to the islands. From that moment on and over the next 200+ years, 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 2,491, the islands are the first stop in your journey. Arrive in the Falkland Islands overnight, and by morning everyone will be excited to make their first shore excursion.

The Falkland (Malvinas) Islands offer an abundance of wildlife.  Not only do various species of bird live here, but chances are great you’ll see both Peale’s dolphins and Commerson’s dolphins in the surrounding waters.

albatross Falkland Islands

Sites you may visit include:

Carcass Island – Despite its name, this island is pleasantly rodent-free and hence bounteous with birdlife. Anything from breeding Magellanic penguins and gentoos to numerous waders and passerine birds (including Cobb’s wrens and tussock-birds) live here.

Saunders Island – On Saunders Island you can see the black-browed albatross and its sometimes-clumsy landings, along with breeding imperial shags and rockhopper penguins. King penguins, Magellanic penguins, and gentoos are also found here.

Port Stanley – The capital of the Falklands and center of its culture, Port Stanley has some Victorian-era charm: colorful houses, well-tended gardens, and English-style pubs are all to be found here. You can also see several century-old clipper ships nearby, silent witnesses to the hardships of 19th century sailors. The small but interesting museum is also worth a visit, covering the early days of settlement up to the Falklands War.

Days 5-6 At Sea

birds-at-sea

En route to South Georgia, you now cross the Antarctic Convergence. The temperature cools considerably within the space of a few hours, and nutritious water rises to the surface of the sea due to colliding water columns. This phenomenon attracts a multitude of seabirds near the ship, including several species of albatross, shearwaters, petrels, prions, and skuas.

Days 7-10 South Georgia

Majestic snow-covered mountains greet you on the island of South Georgia, the most rugged island in this region. 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 that 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, your constant companion, is never far away.

Over the next several days, you have a chance to visit the following sites:

Prion Island – This location is closed during the early part of the breeding season (November 20 – January 7). The previous summer’s wandering albatross chicks are almost ready to fledge, and adults are seeking out their old partners after a year and a half at sea.

Fortuna Bay – Near beaches inhabited by various penguins and seals, you have the chance to follow the final leg of Shackleton’s route to the abandoned whaling village of Stromness. This path cuts across the mountain pass beyond Shackleton’s Waterfall, and as the terrain is partly swampy, be prepared to cross a few small streams.

Salisbury Plain, St. Andrews Bay, Gold Harbour – These sites not only house the three largest king penguin colonies in South Georgia, they’re also three of the world’s largest breeding beaches for southern elephant seals. Only during this time of year do they peak in their breeding cycle. Watch the four-ton bulls keep a constant vigil (and occasionally fight) over territories where dozens of females have just given birth or are about to deliver. You can also see a substantial number of Antarctic fur seals here during the breeding season (December – January).

Grytviken – In this abandoned whaling station, king penguins walk the streets and elephant seals lie around like they own the place – because they basically do. Here you may be able to see the South Georgia Museum as well as Shackleton’s grave.

Days 11-13 Towards Antarctica & South Orkneys

The ship crosses the Scotia Sea, sailing ever closer to Antarctica and leading you perhaps to the South Orkney Islands, depending on conditions. Linked to the Antarctic Peninsula by an enormous submarine mountain range called the Scotia Arc, these often mist-shrouded islands are protected by large icebergs and sea ice. You may be lucky enough to see the dark cliffs of Elephant Island appear on the horizon. Shackleton and his men were encamped here for many months, and from the tiny beach at Point Wild, he and his selected men set off on the rescue mission to South Georgia rowing the tiny lifeboat, ‘James Caird’. To this day, the epic ocean crossing is considered one of the greatest in history.

Depending on the conditions, you might visit Orcadas Base, an Argentine scientific station on Laurie Island in the South Orkney archipelago. The personnel here will happily show you their facility, where you can enjoy expansive views of the surrounding glaciers. If a visit isn’t possible, you may instead make a landing at Signy Island’s Shingle Cove.

Days 14-17 Antarctic Peninsula

If the ice conditions permit, you now sail into the Weddell Sea. Here colossal tabular icebergs herald your arrival to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. Paulet Island, with its large population of Adélie penguins, is a possible stop. You might also visit Brown Bluff, located in the ice-clogged Antarctic Sound, where you could get the chance to set foot on the Antarctic Continent itself.

If conditions aren’t favorable to enter the Weddell Sea from the east, the ship will set course for Elephant Island and head into the Bransfield Strait, between South Shetland Island and the Antarctic Peninsula. Here you can attempt to access the Antarctic Sound from the northwest.

This extended voyage gives you the chance to sail even farther down the ice-sculpted western Antarctic Peninsula. You are likely to enter the northern Gerlache Strait for your last activity before venturing into the Drake Passage. Here there are several opportunities for great landings in an epic landscape of alpine peaks and mammoth glaciers calving at sea level. Gentoo penguins, leopard seals, Weddell seals, humpback whales, and minke whales are often seen here. The breathtaking scenery continues in the southern Gerlache Strait, and if ice conditions allow, we may even reach Lemaire Channel.

Days 18-19 Drake Passage to Ushuaia

While crossing the Drake, you’re again greeted by the vast array of seabirds remembered from the passage south. This is a good time to sort through photos, recap your adventures with fellow travellers and enjoy your final days at sea.

Days 20 Ushuaia

beagle-channel-near-ushuaia-argentina

While crossing the Drake, you’re again greeted by the vast array of seabirds remembered from the passage south. This is a good time to sort through photos, recap your adventures with fellow travellers and enjoy your final days at sea.

To book this voyage call 1300 668 112 or email contact@antarcticatravelcentre.com.au

We will tailor the perfect holiday to suit your needs.