ANTARCTIC PENINSULA AND FALKLAND ISLANDS
Day Place Highlights Day 1 Ushuaia Set sail, meet the expedition team Day 2 At Sea Enjoy the facilities onboard, fine dining options, welcome cocktail party Days 3 & 4 Falkland Islands New Island, West Point Island, Bleaker Island, Sea Lion Island Days 5 - 7 At Sea Drake Passage, Antarctic Sound Days 8 - 11 Antarctic Peninsula Iceberg sculptures, carving glaciers, marine mammals, penguins Day 12 South Shetland Islands Chinstrap, Adelie, Gentoo and Macaroni Penguins, Leopard seals, Weddell seals, crabeater seals, Southern elephant seals and Antarctic fur seals Days 13 & 14 Drake Passage Cross the Drake Passage bound for Ushuaia Day 15 Ushuaia Farewell your expedition team and fellow travellers as you disembark the Silver Wind in Ushuaia
The Silver Wind is a is a modern and comfortable ship which has undergone refurbishments in December 2018 with a second planned for summer 2020 after her original build in 1995. Timelessly elegant and luxurious, the Silver Wind is enabled to comfortably carry 254 passengers across her 6 passenger decks. Her new and improved strengthened ice-class hull makes for adaptable sailing through the Polar Regions with ease for whatever the conditions may bring.
At 55 degrees latitude south, on the Southern most tip of Argentina, Ushuaia is closer to the South Pole than to Argentina’s northern border with Bolivia. It is the capital and tourism base for Tierra del Fuego National Park.
Today embark on your voyage to Antarctica via the Falkland Islands. After you settle in to your cabin you will have a safety drill and meet your fellow travellers.
Taking advantage of the day at sea, the Expedition Team will present talks about the Falkland Islands (Malvinas -as the Spanish-speaking world calls them) that will prepare you for the exciting adventures ahead. Birders out on deck want to keep an eye out for Black-browed Albatross, Southern Giant Petrels and Cape Petrels.
Today you have two opportunities to enjoy the remarkable beauty of the remote Falkland Islands. During the morning we will visit New Island, a wildlife and nature reserve. The New Island Conservation Trust, a private environmental conservation group, protects its many birds and animals. Our Zodiacs will take us ashore near the island’s small settlement at Coffin Harbour. From there we will hike past the Barnard Memorial Museum crossing the island from east to west to reach the rocky cliffs and a rookery where Rockhopper Penguins and Blue-eyed Shags share the same nesting area. We will also observe Black-browed Albatross going about their daily routines and may even spot Upland Geese on our hike.
Our on-board historian might tell us about ‘Barnard’s barn’ — a stone structure once belonging to an early settler and now a museum, as well as the wreck of Protector III — an old minesweeper used for seal hunting, now grounded just off the shore not too far from our landing site.
During lunch Silver Wind will sail in a northeasterly direction to West Point Island. Peale’s dolphins and Commerson’s dolphins with their distinctive black and white markings can often be spotted as one approaches West Point Island. Our Zodiacs will take us to a jetty from where we will walk slightly less than 2 miles to Devil’s Nose. Walking across rolling moorland and past gorse we will be observed by Grass Wrens, Long-tailed Meadowlarks, Falkland Thrushes, Striated Caracaras and Turkey Vultures, but our goal is to reach colonies of Black-browed Albatross that nest side-by-side with Rockhopper Penguins. The winds at Devil’s Nose are usually so strong that the albatross only have to spread their wings to take off, while the penguins (as their name implies) have to hop from rock to rock to reach either the shore or their nests. Once back at the farm, the hospitable island owners will invite you to have tea, coffee and home-made cakes and cookies and are always happy to answer your questions and share their stories.
Stanley is the capital of the remote Falkland Islands, and –although Argentine authorities have repeatedly claimed the islands as part of their country- has a distinct British ambiance. A reminder of the 1982 Falkland War between Britain and Argentina is the War Memorial.
Opt to take a ‘city tour’ by bus with a local guide or stroll through the charming streets of this colourful little town, lined with quaint cottages and a variety of traditional pubs. Visit the 19th-century Anglican cathedral (the southernmost Anglican cathedral in the world) and wander through the Falkland Islands Dockyard Museum. For stamp collectors a visit to the Philatelic Bureau is a must. Depending on local conditions there might be the chance to see Gentoo, Magellanic or King Penguins at Bluff Cove or Volunteer Point.
The Drake Passage has a notorious reputation for its turbulent seas due to the westerly winds and the funneling effect of the passage. The Antarctic Convergence, a natural boundary where cold polar water flows northward and warmer equatorial water moves southward, is within the Drake Passage. When these two currents meet, nutrients are pushed to the surface, often attracting a multitude of seabirds and whales. Black-browed Albatross, Sooty Shearwaters and White-chinned Petrels glide in the air currents alongside and in the wake of the ship.
The Antarctic Sound is a stretch of water named after the first ship to have passed through this body of water from the Bransfield Strait to the Weddell Sea in 1902. The Antarctic eventually sank and crew and scientists had to spend quite some time in this area before they could be rescued. Sites that have to do with this story – like Hope Bay or Paulet Island – are sometimes visited if conditions allow. At Paulet, Hope Bay and Brown Bluff Adelie and Gentoo Penguins breed, as do Kelp Gulls and Cape Petrels, Snow Petrels and Skuas. The Sound’s main attractions are the spectacular tabular icebergs that come from the Larsen Ice Shelf further south.
Remote and otherworldly, Antarctica is irresistible for its spectacular iceberg sculptures and calving glaciers, and for the possibility of up-close encounters with marine mammals and the iconic penguins. The Antarctic Peninsula – the main peninsula closest to South America – has a human history of almost 200 years, with explorers, sealers, whalers, and scientists who have come to work, and eventually intrepid visitors coming to enjoy this pristine and remote wilderness. It is a region of protected bays, unscaled snow-capped mountains, vast glaciers and a few places where whalers or scientists have worked. Just as irresistible are the many Gentoo and Chinstrap Penguin colonies, the seals basking on ice floes, the whales and orcas.
Some 770 kilometers south of Cape Horn, the South Shetland Islands are usually the first land seen in Antarctica. Separated from the Antarctic Peninsula by the Bransfield Strait, nine major islands make up the group. The region was the first to be exploited by sealers in the early 19th century, and because of its proximity to South America, it still is the most visited by scientists and tourists. Chinstrap, Adelie, Gentoo and Macaroni Penguins all breed here. In addition, because it is the warmest part of the continent, large moss beds as well as orange, black, grey and green lichens grow –even hair grass and pearlwort manage to survive. Leopard seals, Weddell seals, crabeater seals, Southern elephant seals and Antarctic fur seals can be seen in the water and on the beaches.
As you venture back to Ushuaia via the Drake Passage you can enjoy the onboard facilities as well as swapping photos with your fellow travellers. Continue to look out for Black-browed Albatross, Sooty Shearwaters, and White-chinned Petrels. There will continue to be presentations offered by the Expedition Team.
After breakfast, disembark Silver Wind and transfer to Ushuaia International Airport for your return flight or extend your adventure in Patagonia.
Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather, wildlife activity and ice conditions. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation.
A flexible itinerary allows us to take advantage of favourable sea and weather conditions. In the true spirit of expedition cruising, each day the Expedition Leader and Captain will determine our best course depending on weather, ice conditions and wildlife we may encounter.
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.