|Day 1||Ushuaia, Argentina||Transfer from airport, overnight hotel|
|Day 2||Embarkation Ushuaia||Beagle Channel|
|Days 3 & 4||At Sea||The Drake Passage|
|Days 5 - 8||Antarctic Peninsula||South Shetland Islands, gentoo penguins, seals, scientific stations|
|Days 9 & 10||At Sea||Southern Ocean, albatross, prions, shearwaters and whales|
|Days 11 - 15||South Georgia||Millions of penguins, thousands of seals, whales, Earnest Shackleton’s grave|
|Days 16 & 17||At Sea||On board presentations, sea birds|
|Days 18 & 19||Falkland Islands||Five species of penguins, black-browed albatross, numerous bird species and dramatic Falklands scenery|
|Days 20 - 22||At Sea||Sailing towards Buenos Aires, Argentina|
|Day 23||Buenos Aires||Farewell your fellow expeditioners and expedition team as you disembark in Buenos Aires|
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 Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city and starting point of your Antarctic expedition! Upon your arrival at the airport, you will be greeted by our staff and transferred to a quality hotel, which has been arranged by us and is included in the price of the itinerary. For the rest of the day, you are free to explore this vibrant port city and adventure hub. For an introduction to local history and wildlife, the interesting Museo del Fin del Mundo is worth a visit. If you have time to spare, a variety of nature activities can be arranged to suit all interests and fitness levels, from hiking in nearby Tierra del Fuego National Park to wildlife viewing in the Beagle Channel. For dinner, Ushuaia offers a wide range of restaurants featuring Patagonian lamb and delectable Fuegian seafood.
If you arrive early there is plenty to see and do in this fascinating city. Take a look at some of the hiking excursions available in Ushuaia here. Contact us to book additional accommodation and activities in Ushuaia to your itinerary.
After breakfast at your hotel, the morning is yours to enjoy Ushuaia. Explore the delightful waterfront and savour views of the snowcapped Martial Range, the southernmost peaks of the Andes. Take advantage of shopping for souvenirs or some last minute necessities such as cold-weather gear. Just remember, you will soon receive your very own parka to keep and waterproof boots to borrow on board the ship. For lunch, the many cafés, parrillas and gelato shops on Avenida San Martín will be sure to satisfy any appetite. In the afternoon, you will be transferred to the pier where you will be warmly welcomed aboard the luxury expedition vessel M/V Sea Spirit. Get settled in your spacious suite and explore the ship that will be your comfortable home during the extraordinary adventure to come. After getting underway, a full schedule of events kicks off with informative briefings and introductions from your expedition staff. After the first of many delicious dinners on board, step out onto the open decks to admire the scenery and gorgeous evening light as we pass through the Beagle Channel.
After passing the islands of Tierra del Fuego, turn south to begin your crossing of the Drake Passage. The majestic wandering albatross and other graceful subantarctic seabirds are common in these waters and can readily be viewed from
panoramic open decks and balconies. You will also cross the Antarctic Convergence, the biological boundary of the Southern Ocean. The ship’s stabilising fins provide comfort in the event of rough seas. You can hope to arrive in the South Shetland Islands on the evening of your second day at sea.
During the next four days, explore the highlights of the South Shetland Islands and 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. Here you will also find Antarctic research bases of various nationalities, some with gift shops and post offices.
The South Shetland Islands are the northernmost islands in Antarctica and will likely be your first sight of land. 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 famous Endurance expedition spent the winter of 1916. You will also explore 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 the chance to land on the continent of Antarctica. Throughout this area, find nesting colonies of gentoo, chinstrap and Adélie penguins, sometimes side by side. This a great time for close encounters with inquisitive penguin chicks, who are now gaining independence as they fledge.
The bravest chicks are testing their swimming skills in the sea, where they face a gauntlet of hungry leopard seals and killer whales. This is also the peak of the whale-watching season. Having gorged themselves on krill all summer, humpback and minke whales become more playful and obliging to Zodiacs and kayakers. Crabeater and Weddell seals are joined by Antarctic fur seals and southern elephant seals. The skies are full of newly fledged seabirds. Antarctica is a true wilderness with unpredictable weather and ever-changing ice conditions, which will dictate your route and exploration opportunities. With more than 14 hours of daylight per day, seize every chance to experience excellent wildlife viewing and amazing scenery via Zodiac cruises and shore excursions.
Now proceed northeast through the wildlife-rich waters of the Scotia Sea. Keep a lookout for abundant humpback and fin whales along the way. Briefings, bio-security procedures and presentations by the lecture staff prepare you for your arrival in South Georgia.
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 a rare opportunity to witness part of their remarkable life cycle. While most seabird chicks are already fledging, wandering albatross chicks are only now hatching in grassy 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 penguin chicks are getting ready to head out to sea. 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 elephant seals and fur seals. At this time, thousands of fat elephant seal pups are lounging around on shore while mobs of rambunctious fur seal pups take to the water. Once hunted nearly to extinction, large whales have returned 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 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 raw and untamed wilderness, including the legendary 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. The precise route and exploration opportunities are dependent on weather in this wild and remote corner of the world. The 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 you will take every safe opportunity to go ashore in this challenging environment.
Sail west toward the Falkland Islands, passing the remote, seabird-covered pinnacles known as Shag Rocks on the way. Pelagic seabirds are your constant companions as you keep a vigilant watch for dolphins and whales in these productive waters. Presentations by the expert naturalists and historians prepare you for your arrival in the Falkland Islands.
On these days, 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. Also plan to offer 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, whose chicks have fledged and are making a tentative start to their lives at sea. At this time, you may even find groups of sea lions hauled out on shore. Continue your exploration of the Falklands in 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 soar down from above while feisty rockhopper penguins leap up surf-battered cliffs from below to feed their large chicks amongst the tussocks. On nearby beaches, gentoo penguin chicks are starting to fledge while adult king penguins and chicks of all ages are getting ready to brave the austral winter. 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.
The ocean breezes gradually get warmer as you sail north through the South Atlantic Ocean. As you enter deeper waters, you are on constant lookout for killer whales, blue whales, sei whales and southern right whales. This is also the time for festivities such as the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail and the end-of-voyage slideshow.
Morning disembarkation in Buenos Aires. Farewell your expedition team and fellow travellers. Right after the disembarkation you will be transferred to the Ezeiza (EZE) airport or a central location in Buenos Aires.