SOUTH GEORGIA IN DEPTH

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17 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 Punta Arenas, Chile to the Falkland Islands Depart Punta Arenas for the short flight to Port Stanley, Falkland ISlands
Day 2-3 At Sea Seabirds, onboard lectures
Day 4-6 South Georgia King Haakon Bay & Northwest Coast
Day 7-9 South Georgia Fortuna Bay, Stromness, Grytviken & Central North Coast
Day 10-13 South Georgia St Andrews Bay, Gold Harbour, Eastern Coast
Day 14-16 At Sea towards Ushuaia Seabirds, onboard presentations
 Day 17 Ushuaia  Cruise ends in Ushuaia, Argentina
South Georgia In Depth

Day 1 Punta Arenas, Chile to Port Stanley, the Falkland Islands

Punta Arenas
Overview:

Your journey commences this morning in the southern Chilean city of Punta Arenas, transferring from the central meeting point to the airport and flying on the scheduled service to Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands (this short 90-minute flight is included in the price of your voyage). Here in the Falkland Islands, you will encounter a relatively warm climate where a range of unusual wildlife thrives. Sixty species of migratory birds and the rare rockhopper penguin inhabit the archipelago. Stanley is currently home to just over 2,000 residents and is reminiscent of a rural town in coastal England or Scotland. It is a charming place with brightly coloured houses, pretty flower-filled gardens, a quaint cathedral and several local pubs. The waterfront memorial, built to commemorate the lives of the servicemen lost during the Falklands War in the early 1980s, acts as a sobering reminder of recent history.

 

On arrival in Stanley you will be met on arrival and transferred to the pier. There is time to explore the town before you make your way to your expedition ship, Akademik Sergey Vavilov, for embarkation. After settling in to your cabin and exploring the ship, familiarising yourself with your ‘home’ for the coming days, you will meet your 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.Please note that while it is the intention to adhere to the arrangements described below, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary or desirable to make alterations. On the first day aboard, the Expedition Leader will give you an expedition overview.

Ship
Akademik Ioffe & Akademik Vavilov

Akademik Ioffe and Akademik Sergey Vavilov are Sister ships built in Rauma, Finland in 1989 and 1988 respectively, both vessels were designed for polar research and are now the only scientific vessels still actively participating in marine science.  With extensive upgrades and expansions, Akademik Ioffe and Akademik Sergey Vavilov are not only safe and ice-strengthened, they are now modern, comfortable and very spacious.  Both vessels transit open water crossings from Ushuaia to the Antarctic Peninsula, to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia with ease due to their mass and integrated internal ballast system, resulting in a tremendous reduction from severe rolling in heavy seas.  Once along the Antarctic peninsula the technical features of both the Ioffe and Vavilov shine for the advantages they offer to the passenger experience.  With bow and stern thrusters, both vessels can spin on their axis and the multiple pitch propellers offer immediate reduction in speed when a wildlife opportunity presents itself.

Day 2-3 At Sea towards South Georgia

Overview:

Your journey commences this morning in the southern Chilean city of Punta Arenas, transferring from the central meeting point to the airport and flying on the scheduled service to Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands (this short 90-minute flight is included in the price of your voyage). Here in the Falkland Islands, you will encounter a relatively warm climate where a range of unusual wildlife thrives. Sixty species of migratory birds and the rare rockhopper penguin inhabit the archipelago. Stanley is currently home to just over 2,000 residents and is reminiscent of a rural town in coastal England or Scotland. It is a charming place with brightly coloured houses, pretty flower-filled gardens, a quaint cathedral and several local pubs. The waterfront memorial, built to commemorate the lives of the servicemen lost during the Falklands War in the early 1980s, acts as a sobering reminder of recent history.   On arrival in Stanley you will be met on arrival and transferred to the pier. There is time to explore the town before you make your way to your expedition ship, Akademik Sergey Vavilov, for embarkation. After settling in to your cabin and exploring the ship, familiarising yourself with your ‘home’ for the coming days, you will meet your 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. Please note that while it is the intention to adhere to the arrangements described below, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary or desirable to make alterations. On the first day aboard, the Expedition Leader will give you an expedition overview.

Days 4-6 South Georgia – King Haakon Bay & Northwest Coast

Overview:

Majestic snow-covered mountains greet you on arrival in South Georgia. Weather permitting, begin your exploration on the southern coastline. The ship will navigate into the very historic location of King Haakon Bay. It was here that Shackleton and his men made landfall in their small lifeboat – the ‘James Caird’, after completing the perilous ocean crossing from Elephant Island, a century ago. This is a very dramatic place, visited by just a handful of ships each season. From here, you will make your way around to the more protected waters of the north-eastern coast.

 

You can now indulge in an in-depth exploration, with the crew navigating the ship into the bays and harbours the entire length of the island. Elsehul Bay allows for great Zodiac cruising and kayaking. 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 king penguin adults and their young. The rookery is estimated 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, the rookeries are believed to have more wildlife per square foot than any other place on the planet. The majestic ‘Kings’ are not the only wildlife on display as we explore the rugged coastline. Fur seals can be seen poking their heads above the water, the elephant seals enjoy lazing about the beach, while the skuas and giant petrels fill the skies above. Meanwhile, the albatross – your constant companion on this journey – is never far away.

Days 7-9 South Georgia – Fortuna Bay, Stromness, Grytviken & Central North Coast

Overview:

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 10-13 South Georgia – St Andrews Bay, Gold Harbour & Eastern Coast

Overview:

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.

Days 14-16 Sailing towards the Falkland Islands

Overview:

Your final days are spent catching up on journal entries, or perhaps downloading and reviewing photos in the multi-media lab with the photography expert. For some, it’s a chance to catch some well-earned rest after a busy eight days of exploration. The wonderful lounge and bar on our ship provides fantastic panoramas and is a great place to sit with a book and a hot drink. A particular highlight of your 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. The educational presentations continue and we enjoy an entertaining and memorable voyage recap by our Expedition Leader. Take the time to enjoy a quiet moment on the outer deck and reflect on a truly remarkable journey to the farthest reaches of the planet.

Days 17 Ushuaia, Argentina

Ushuaia, Argentina
Overview:

In the early morning, arrive into Ushuaia, Argentina. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travellers. Guests will be transported to their hotels or to the airport for return flights home. It will be possible to connect to flights through to Buenos Aires or other destinations in South America. Otherwise, enjoy a night in town or venture further afield to explore the highlights of Patagonia.

We will tailor the perfect holiday to suit your needs.