FALKLANDS, SOUTH GEORGIA & ANTARCTICA: ANTARCTIC WILDLIFE ADVENTURE
|1||Ushuaia, Argentina||Transfer from airport, overnight hotel|
|2||Embarkation Ushuaia||Beagle Channel|
|3||At Sea||Towards the Falkland Islands|
|4 - 6||Falkland Islands||Five species of penguins, black-browed albatross, numerous bird species and dramatic Falklands scenery|
|7 & 8||At Sea||Southern Ocean|
|9 - 13||South Georgia||Millions of penguins, hundreds of thousands seals|
|14 & 15||Scotia Sea||Albatross, prions, shearwaters and whales|
|16 - 18||Antarctic Peninsula||Gentoo, Adelie & chinstrap penguins, seals and dramatic scenery|
|19 & 20||Drake Passage||Crossing the Drake Passage|
|21||Disembark Ushuaia||Farewell your fellow expeditioners|
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 and transferred to a quality hotel, which has been arranged 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 transiting the Beagle Channel and passing the islands of Tierra del Fuego, head northeast toward the Falkland Islands. Keep a lookout for dolphins and whales. The ship’s stabilising fins provide comfort in the event of rough seas. Presentations by experts prepare you for your arrival in the Falkland Islands.
The remote and sparsely-populated Falkland Islands are a birders’ paradise. Anticipate spending two days in the remote outer islands where large colonies of penguins and albatross are easily accessible. The Falklands are also a great place to observe marine mammals. Fur seals and elephant seals can be found on sandy beaches while the waters around the archipelago are home to cetaceans such as Peale’s dolphins and Commerson’s dolphins.
Your exact route and exploration pportunities are dependent on weather among these isolated and windswept islands. It is also intended to visit the port of Stanley, the charmingly British capital of the Falkland Islands. Attractions within pleasant walking distance along the waterfront promenade include the Falkland Islands Museum, the governor’s house, a cathedral with impressive whalebone arch outside, a war memorial, quality gift shops, pubs, and views of shipwrecks in the harbor.
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.
This is expedition cruising at its most authentic. Your route and exploration opportunities in South Georgia are heavily dependent on the weather conditions that you encounter. The experienced captain and expedition leader decide the itinerary and continually adjust plans as conditions and opportunities warrant. You can be sure that the best possible advantage will be taken of the circumstances presented to you by nature in this wild and remote corner of the world. Every safe opportunity is taken to go ashore in this amazing place.
South Georgia is a scenic wilderness and an unrivaled paradise for subantarctic wildlife viewing. The islands are said to host upwards of 100 million seabirds, including numerous species of albatross, penguins, prions, petrels and terns. On beaches such as those at Salisbury Plain and St. Andrews Bay, over 100,000 elephant seals and three million fur seals jostle for space among innumerable penguins including stately king penguins and sprightly macaroni penguins. The recently completed rat eradication program is sure to make this wilderness even more pristine and rich with birdlife. The bountiful waters surrounding South Georgia are also inhabited by an increasing number of whales. The historical whaling station of Grytviken is now home to the excellent South Georgia Museum managed by the South Georgia Heritage Trust. Grytviken is also the final resting place of Ernest Shackleton, the legendary polar explorer.
Continue west toward the Antarctic Peninsula. Pelagic seabirds including the majestic albatross are common in these waters and can readily be viewed from panoramic open decks or from exterior stateroom windows and balconies. You may also encounter enormous tabular icebergs drifting north from the Weddell Sea.
The Antarctic Peninsula region contains some of the world’s most impressive scenery and some of Antarctica’s best wildlife viewing opportunities. Protected bays and narrow channels are surrounded by towering mountain peaks covered 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 a variety of whale and seal species. The whole area is alive with penguins foraging at sea and forming large nesting colonies at special places on land. The area is also home to Antarctic research stations of various nationalities, some with a gift shop and post office.
The South Shetland Islands are the northernmost islands in Antarctica and will likely be our first sighting of land. This wild and beautiful island chain contains numerous landing sites with abundant wildlife and historical significance. Among them is Elephant Island, where men from Shackleton’s famous Endurance expedition spent the winter.
Farther south, on the Antarctic Peninsula, the gorgeous Gerlache Strait area contains sheltered bays, accessible wildlife, and stunning scenery. Places with names like Paradise Bay are the epitome of everything Antarctic: glaciated mountains, towering icebergs, feeding whales, seals on ice floes, and bustling penguin colonies. At the southern end of Gerlache Strait is the famous Lemaire Channel, also known as “Kodak Gap” because of the photogenic way the mountainous sides of the narrow channel are reflected in calm waters strewn with icebergs.
The wilderness of Antarctica is subject to unpredictable weather and ever-changing ice conditions, which dictate your route and exploration opportunities. This is a real expedition. The expedition team will exploit every opportunity to experience excellent wildlife viewing, amazing scenery and excursions via Zodiac.
It is now time to head north across the Drake Passage toward South America, though the adventure is not quite over. You should always be on the lookout for marine mammals and seabirds in these wild waters. This is also the time for festivities such as the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail and the end-ofvoyage 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 the Patagonia sample itineraries below and contact us to begin creating your perfect holiday.