SOUTH GEORGIA IN DEPTH

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16 DAYS

South Georgia is one of the most stunning places on earth. This small archipelago rears up from the Southern Ocean to a height of almost 3,000 metres and is home to millions of birds. The rugged landscape forms a dramatic backdrop to the many beaches and coves which are home to millions of penguins and petrels, thousands of elephant and fur seals and hundreds of albatrosses.

ITINERARY SUMMARY

 

 

Day Place Highlights
Day 1 Ushuaia Begin your Antarctic adventure in Ushuaia, Argentina 
Days 2-4 At Sea Towards South Georgia
Days 5-6 South Georgia King Haakon Bay & Northwest Coast
Days 7-8 South Georgia Fortuna Bay, Stromness, Grytviken & Central North Coast
Days 9-10 South Georgia St Andrews Bay, Gold Harbour, Eastern Coast
Day 11 South Georgia  Godthul, Prion Island
Days 12-15 At Sea towards Falkland Islands  Seabirds, onboard presentations
 Day 16 Falkland Islands Arrive in Stanley, Falkland Islands. Fly back to Santiago

SHIP OFFERING THIS ITINERARY

RCGS RESOLUTE
Resolute Ship

The RCGS Resolute is a modern, ice-strengthened Antarctic cruise ship with all en-suite cabins accommodating up to 146 guests. Purpose built for polar waters in Rauma Finland the Resolute not only has the highest ice class rating (Lloyds 1AS) she also offers unmatched stability and superior speed to get you to your destination and out exploring. The RCGS Resolute combines first class accommodation, excellent cuisine; dinner is a la carte, with a true expedition experience. Quite literally the best of both worlds.

Two separate lounge and bar areas allow everyone to enjoy 180 degree views whilst sharing stories from your day exploring the shores of Antarctica. The Resolute has an open bridge policy so passengers can admire the crew manoeuvring the ship through the Antarctic waters. . Additional facilities include: theatre style presentation room, hot water spa, sauna, steam room and salt water pool, gymnasium and wellness centre.

Day 1 Ushuaia, Argentina

Overview:

Your journey to Antarctica commences this afternoon in Ushuaia, in southern Argentina. You will gather at a central meeting point and transfer to the pier to embark on your expedition ship, RCGS Resolute. After settling in to your cabin and exploring the ship, meet the expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as you enjoy a welcome cocktail and dinner and cast off, bound for South Georgia and the adventure of a lifetime.

Days 2-4 At Sea towards South Georgia

This stretch of the South Atlantic is rich in its bio-diversity and showcases an abundance of astonishing wildlife. You will be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions as you make your way to South Georgia. Photographing these magnificent birds takes patience and skill and the photography expert will be on hand to show you the best techniques. Join the ship’s Captain on the bridge and learn about the operations of your modern research vessel. Throughout the day  onboard experts educate you with a series of presentations about the environment, wildlife and history of the locations you may visit in the coming days. History is a key theme of this voyage and the epic story of Shackleton is central to your journey.

Days 5-6 South Georgia – King Haakon Bay & Northwest Coast

These next ten days will be unlike anything you have ever imagined. Majestic snow-covered mountains greet you on arrival in South Georgia. You begin your exploration on the southern coastline and it is hoped to navigate the ship into the very historic location of King Haakon Bay. It was here, 100 years ago, that Shackleton and his men made landfall in their small lifeboat, the ‘James Caird’, after completing the perilous ocean crossing from Elephant Island. They then set off to cross the mountainous spine of South Georgia – a feat never before attempted. This is a very dramatic place, visited by just a handful of ships each season. From here, the ship makes its way around to the protected waters of the north-eastern coast, and you can now indulge in an in-depth exploration, navigating into the bays and harbours for the entire length of the island. Elsehul Bay allows for great Zodiac cruising and will be a possible location to launch the kayakers for a paddle.

One of the most anticipated sites in South Georgia is Salisbury Plain. The black sand beaches and tussock-covered dunes are home to a staggering abundance of adult king penguin and their young. The rookery is believed to have a population of up to 100,000 adult and juvenile penguins. This is just one of several such king penguin rookeries on South Georgia. At the height of breeding season this area is believed to have more wildlife per square foot than any other place on the planet – it has to be experienced to believe it. The majestic ‘Kings’ are not the only wildlife on display. Fur seals can be seen poking their heads above the water, the elephant seals will enjoy lazing about the beach, while the skuas and giant petrels swoop and weave in the skies above. Meanwhile the albatross, your constant companion on this journey, is never far away.

Days 7-8 South Georgia – Fortuna Bay, Stromness, Grytviken & Central North Coast

Your adventure takes you next to Fortuna Bay, a majestic 4.8km long and 1.6km wide fjord. It was named after the ship Fortuna, one of the original vessels of the Norwegian–Argentine whaling expedition which established the first permanent whaling station at Grytviken, further down the coast. Here at Fortuna Bay you can expect to see king penguins, elephant seals and even reindeer – a species introduced by the early Norwegian whalers as a source of protein and a reminder of their distant homeland; their increased numbers over the years have very detrimental to the island and they continue to be subject to an eradication program.History comes into sharp focus as you continue west to Stromness and Grytviken. From 1912 until the 1930s, Stromness, and nearby Leith and Husvik, operated as whaling stations and the rusted and ghostly remnants of these old stations now seem out of place in such a pristine environment.

This area is key to the Shackleton story and it was here, in 1916, that Shackleton and his companions, Frank Worsley and Tom Crean arrived after their epic mountain crossing from King Haakon Bay on the south coast. This was after having completed a 1280km journey by small boat from Elephant Island. If the weather co-operates, it is hoped to be able to hike the last few kilometres across the saddle separating Fortuna Bay from neighbouring Stromness, in the footsteps of Shackleton and his men.Journeying further to the southeast the ship enters the broad expanse of Cumberland Bay. At the head of the bay lies Grytviken, the largest of the old whaling stations on South Georgia. A highlight of the landing here is a visit to the gravesite of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his loyal right-hand man, Frank Wild. Frank Wild’s lifelong wish was to be buried beside Shackleton. However his wish never materialised due to the outbreak of WWII only a week after Wild’s passing in South Africa. Your voyage falls four years after the transport of Wild’s ashes to South Georgia some 95 years after his last voyage with Shackleton in 1921.

Days 9-10 South Georgia – St Andrews Bay, Gold Harbour & Eastern Coast

The next few days will take you to St Andrew’s Bay and Gold Harbour, places that are teeming with wildlife including fur seals, elephant seals and massive colonies of the colourful king penguins. As with all of the landings, every opportunity possible will be used to explore on foot, as much or as little as you like. Gold Harbour is so called because the sun’s rays make the cliffs yellow with their light in the morning and evening – it’s an exhilarating location. Drygalski Fjord at the far eastern extremity of the island has been called one of the most spectacular sites in South Georgia and you will undoubtedly agree. If it is calm enough you can hear the glacier calving large chunks of ice, reminders of what early sealers, whalers and vessels needed to pay close attention to.

Day 11 South Georgia – Godthul & Prion Island

Your exploration of South Georgia is far from over and the ship meanders its way back along the northern coastline. There are few in mind, including the old whaling shore depot at Godthul where there is a terrific hike up to a beautiful lake. Cooper Bay is home to a sizeable Macaroni penguin rookery nesting among the tussock grass behind the landing site. Nearing the end of your visit to South Georgia, it’s hoped to enjoy a shore landing at Prion Island, yet another spectacular location and, some would argue, the jewel in the crown.

Wandering-Albatross-alex-2018

Situated in the breathtaking Bay of Isles, Prion Island has been designated as a ‘Specially Protected Area’ by the South Georgia Government, due to the breeding wandering albatross colonies at this location. Boasting the largest wingspan of any living bird, typically ranging from 2.5-3.5 m, they spend most of their life in flight, landing only to breed and feed. Distances travelled each year are hard to measure, but one bird was recorded traveling 6000km in just 12 days. It is rare to experience them “up close and personal” and on land and you are exceptionally lucky to be able to attempt a landing here. The site is closed to visiting ships between November and mid-January due to the massive concentration of fur seals on the beaches. The boardwalks provide access to several observation platforms where you can view nesting wandering albatross at close quarters. Your visit to this breathtaking place is a fitting way to complete your journey. Tonight, as you depart South Georgia, you might pause to reflect on your epic days of exploration as the ship begins heading back towards the Falkland Islands.

Days 12-15 Sailing towards the Falkland Islands

Your final days are spent catching up on journal entries, or perhaps downloading and reviewing photos in the multi-media room with your photography expert. For some, it’s a chance to catch some well-earned rest after a busy week of exploration. The lounge and bar on the ship provides fantastic panoramas and is a great place to sit with a book and a hot drink. The educational presentations continue and you will enjoy an entertaining and memorable voyage recap by your Expedition Leader. A particular highlight of the return journey will be frequent sightings of the majestic albatross, petrels and other seabirds as they soar above the ship on the winds of the Southern Ocean. Take the time to enjoy a quiet moment on the outer deck, reflecting on a truly remarkable journey to the farthest reaches of the planet.

Day 16 Port Stanley, Falkland Islands – Santiago, Chile

This morning, the RCGS Resolute will navigate into the port of Stanley. Say goodbye to the crew and after some free time in town, transfer to the airport for your return charter flight to Santiago. On arrival in Santiago, your journey comes to an end. Onward regional and international flight connections may be possible this evening. Discuss the options with your booking agent. A transfer is provided to a downtown location for those choosing to stay and explore Santiago and the delights of Chile.

We will tailor the perfect holiday to suit your needs.