The South Shetland Islands are the northernmost islands in Antarctica and will likely be our first sight of land. This wildly beautiful island chain contains many landing sites with historical significance and abundant wildlife.
On South Georgia’s legendary beaches, king penguins are gathered in huge colonies that stretch from sandy shorelines to the foothills of glaciated mountains. South Georgia is also home to staggering numbers of elephant seals and fur seals. At this time, thousands of fat elephant seal pups are lounging around on shore while mobs of rambunctious fur seal pups take to the water. Once hunted nearly to extinction, large whales have returned to the bountiful seas surrounding South Georgia. With the whalers long gone, the historical whaling station of Grytviken is now home to the excellent South Georgia Museum.
The Falkland Islands are havens for wildlife. Large colonies of seabirds, perched on windy bluffs overlooking azure seas, are easily accessible by hiking over lush meadows.
Welcome to Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city and starting point of our Antarctic expedition! Upon your arrival at the airport, you will be greeted by our staff and transferred to a quality hotel, which has been arranged by us 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.
After breakfast at your hotel, the morning is yours to enjoy Ushuaia. Explore the delightful waterfront and savor views of the snowcapped Martial Range, the southernmost peaks of the Andes. Take advantage of shopping for souvenirs or some lastminute 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 we will warmly welcome you 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, we head northeast toward the Falkland Islands. We keep a lookout for dolphins and whales. The ship’s stabilizing fins provide comfort in the event of rough seas. Presentations by our experts prepare you for our arrival in the Falkland Islands.
The remote and sparsely-populated Falkland Islands are a birders’ paradise. We 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. Our exact route and exploration opportunities are dependent on weather among these isolated and windswept islands.
We also intend 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.
From the Falkland Islands we head east toward South Georgia, passing the remote, seabird-covered pinnacles known as Shag Rocks on the way. We also cross the Antarctic Convergence, the biological boundary of the Southern Ocean. Briefings, bio-security procedures, and lectures from our experts prepare you for our arrival in South Georgia.
This is expedition cruising at its most authentic. Our route and exploration opportunities in South Georgia are heavily dependent on the weather conditions we encounter. Our 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 us by nature in this wild and remote corner of the world. We take every safe opportunity 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.
Our days in South Georgia are filled with memorable excursions, sumptuous meals, presentations by our experts, and enough incredible scenery and wildlife to fill your camera and overwhelm your emotions.
We sail west toward the Falkland Islands, passing the remote, seabird-covered pinnacles known as Shag Rocks on the way. Pelagic seabirds are our constant companions as we keep a vigilant watch for dolphins and whales in these productive waters. Presentations by our expert naturalists and historians prepare you for our arrival in the Falkland Islands.
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 our route and exploration opportunities. This is a real expedition. We 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. We are always 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-of-voyage slideshow. Finally, as we enter the calm Beagle Channel, we enjoy a night of smooth sailing toward Ushuaia.
After breakfast we say farewell in the city of Ushuaia, where we started. We provide a group transfer to the airport or to the town center if you wish to spend more time here. As you look back on your wonderful experience in Antarctica, you may already be looking forward to your next incredible adventure to the ice!
This expedition includes:
This expedition excludes: