SOUTH GEORGIA GRAND TOUR

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18 DAYS

ITINERARY SUMMARY

DayPlaceHighlights
1Puerto MadrynEmbark, look for southern right whales
2 - 3At SeaRelax, unwind and keep an eye out for the multitude of sea birds following the ship
4 - 5Falkland IslandsSteeple Jason, Carcass Island, Saunders Island, Westpoint Island, Grave Cove
6 - 7At SeaCross the Antarctic Convergence
8Shag RocksFeeding grounds for numerous birds and whales
9 - 13South GeorgiaSee South Georgia's abundance of wildlife at sites including Gold Harbour, Fortuna Bay and Salisbury Plain
14 - 17At SeaCrossing the Drake Passage, watch for seabirds and marine life
18Ushuaia, ArgentinaAfter breakfast, disembark the ship with your invaluable memories

SHIPS OFFERING THIS ITINERARY

JANSSONIUS
Hondius Antarctica landscape

The Janssonius (170 guests) will be launched in June 2021. She has an Ice class rating of 6, the most advanced to date. The Janssonius offers deluxe accommodation for a total 170 guests. One deck has been entirely reserved for lectures and presentations in one large observation lounge. The ship’s main focus remains discovery, taking advantage of wildlife opportunities and the related shore activities. Efficient zodiac embarkation is guaranteed with two separate gangways and in addition a zodiac embarkation indoor-platform which can also be used for special activities such as kayaking.

Ortelius
Ortelius, Exterior

The Ortelius was originally the Marina Svetaeva. Built in Gdynia, Poland in 1989, it served as a special-purpose vessel for the Russian Academy of Science. Later it was re-flagged and renamed after the Dutch/Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius, who in 1570 published the first modern world atlas: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum or Theatre of the World.  The Ortelius can accommodate 108 guests and has an abundance of open-deck spaces for watching wildlife and the impressive scenery as you sail past. She also has the highest ice-class notation (UL1, equivalent to 1A) making her perfect for polar expeditions.

Day 1 Puerto Madryn

Puerto Madryn patagonia

You embark from Puerto Madryn in the afternoon, your prow aimed for the Falkland Islands. Golfo Nuevo is renowned for its visiting southern right whales, so you have a good chance of spotting one as you sail toward the open ocean.

Days 2 – 3 At Sea

Royal Albatross

Spend this day at sea bird watching as several species of albatross follow the ship into the westerlies, along with storm petrels, shearwaters, and diving petrels.

Days 4 – 5 Falkland Islands

anna birds of falkands

The Falkland Islands offer an abundance of wildlife that is easily approachable, though caution is always advised. These islands are largely unknown gems with a wealth of bird life, including many endemic species. The waters of the Falklands are also rich with sea life, including southern sea lions and elephant seals. There is a good chance to see both Peale’s dolphins and Commerson’s dolphins.

During this segment of the voyage, we aim to visit the following two sites:

Steeple Jason – Home to the world’s largest black-browed albatross colony (roughly 113,000), Steeple Jason is a wild and rarely visited island buffeted by wind and waves. Weather and swell conditions dictate the journey here.

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

Magellanic Penguins on Carcass Island in Falklands by Adrien Froidevaux

Other sites that we may offer as an alternative:

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.

Westpoint Island – Landing in a small cove near the island’s house, you will be able to walk through the tussac grass and an abundant breeding colony of black-browed albatrosses, where they live side by side with  rockhopper penguins.

Grave Cove – Nesting gentoo penguins and excellent hiking opportunities abound here, with the chance to enjoy great scenery and wildlife.

Days 6 – 7 At Sea

Bird 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.

Day 8 Shag Rocks

Imperial Shag - Bleaker Island

Today we reach the Shag Rocks, a group of six islands surrounded by nutrient-rich waters that offer great feeding grounds for numerous birds and whales. The islands are named after the South Georgian shag, known for its bright blue eyes and yellow beak patch.

Days 9 – 13 South Georgia

Elephant Seal with King Penguins, Gold Harbour, South Georgia

In our tour of South Georgia’s breathtaking wildlife and scenery, we may visit the following sites. Please keep in mind that weather conditions in this area can be challenging, largely dictating the program.

Sites you might visit include:

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).

Fortuna Bay – This beautiful outwash plain from Fortuna Glacier is home to a large number of king penguins and seals. You may 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.

Leith Harbour, Stromness, Husvik – These sites remind us of the scale of the whaling industry in the early 20th century. Elephant and fur seals breed and moult here. Gentoo penguins also occupy the landing sites. Antarctic prions and South Georgia dive petrels may be observed, especially in the area of Husvik.

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 might be able to see the South Georgia Museum as well as Shackleton’s grave.

Chinstrap with Chick

Cobblers Cove, Godthul – Here we will try to visit Rookery Point to see macaroni penguins. We might also encounter giant petrels, gentoo penguins, seals, and light-mantled sooty albatrosses nesting along the coastline. Godthul (Norwegian for “good cove”) was named by Norwegian whalers and seal hunters.

Royal Bay (Moltke Harbour, Will Point & Brisbane Point) – Moltke Harbour in Royal Bay was named by the German International Polar Year Expedition in 1882, and some of the remains of their dwellings are still visible. The scenery of Royal Bay is amazing, with dark sandy beaches, green tussocks, and of course, the great Ross Glacier. It may be windy here, but the Zodiac cruising is spectacular. Roughly 30,000 pairs of king penguins also live in this area.

Cooper Bay – A Zodiac cruise in Cooper Bay offers a good chance to see macaroni penguins, gentoo penguins, and one of the world’s largest chinstrap penguin rookeries. Fur and elephant seals may be seen on the beach, while we might also spot light-mantled sooty albatrosses gliding overhead. Antarctic terns, white-chinned petrels, and blue-eyed shags are possible here too.

Drygalski Fjord – This narrow waterway offers spectacular landscapes, specifically high mountain peaks at a very close distance.

Annenkov Island – Passing Pickersgill Islands, we reach the rarely visited Annenkov Island, first discovered by James Cook in 1775 and later renamed by the Russian expedition of Fabian von Bellingshausen in 1819. This is a rocky terrain with a variety of ridges, peaks, and hills where fossils have been found.

King Haakon Bay – Few Antarctic locations are more steeped in expedition history than this one. British explorer Ernest Shackleton reached King Haakon Bay during his arduous open-boat voyage from Elephant Island, where his crew was stranded after sea ice crushed their ship. Elephant seals dominate these rugged beaches, and birdwatchers should keep a lookout for South Georgia pipits, Antarctic prions, common diving petrels, and blue petrels.

Days 14 – 17 At Sea

Snow Petrel feeding

South polar skuas and snow petrels could join the albatrosses trailing our vessel during these sea days, and we may also encounter sea ice. When we reach the Drake Passage, you will be again greeted by the vast array of seabirds remembered from the passage south.

Day 18 Ushuaia, Argentina

Ushuaia

Every adventure, no matter how grand, must eventually come to an end. It’s now time to disembark in Ushuaia, but with memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.

To book this cruise call 1300 784 794 or email contact@antarcticatravelcentre.com.au

We will tailor the perfect holiday to suit your needs.

Extend your trip to Patagonia

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.