Antarctica and Subantarctic Islands
M/V Plancius - M/V Ortelius
from Ushuaia

We drive through the Drake Strait to the Falkland Islands, into the capital Stanley Port, and then continue our cruise towards the South Georgia Island, which lies before the Antarctic convergence. Later we will go ashore on the Orkney Islands and anchor on the island of Laurie to get to the Argentinean base (station Orcadas). Next to this area is a colony of southern giant petrels. At Cormorant Point you can visit a colony of Adélie penguins. Then we drive on to the Larsen Ice Barrier to progress through the Weddell Sea towards the Antarctic Peninsula. Cruise the Subantarctic Islands and the Antarctic, visiting the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Island, South Orkney Island and South Shetland. The only option offered by boat M / V Ortelius offers the option of diving in the Antarctica.

Antarctica and Subantarctic Islands in the M/V Plancius

19 days - 18 nights

The Antarctica, Falkland and South Georgia Island program is one of the most complete voyages to the Antarctica with these quantity of days, because not only you will visit the Antarctic Peninsula, but also the famous Falklands, South Georgia and South Orcadas Islands which are not visited in the classic program to this continent. As the vast majority of the Antarctic cruises, it departs from Ushuaia´s Port in Tierra del Fuego Island, sailing from the Beagle Channel to the Drake Strait. The two first days of the navigation route are destined to navigate to our first disembark: the Falklands. After two days in Stanley Port, we will continue our trip to the Antarctic Convergence, this will take the following two days to get to our second disembark: the South Georgia Island...

Antarctica and Subantarctic Islands in the M/V Plancius

In the South Georgia Islands there is many thing to see, that is why we will spend 3 days visiting Elsehul Bay, with its permanente seal breeding, and then we will go to the Right Whale Bay, Salisbury plain, Gold Harbour and Cooper Bay, while we watch its wild life, such as sea elephants, Papuam King and Macaroni penguins, different species of Albatrosses and we woul be able to watch an invanding animal in Drggalski Fjord: the Reindeer, it is not of this latitudes any more, it was brought from the North Pole. We would have been made half voyage and we will continue navigating by freeze sea to the South Orcades Islands, our third antartic destination. A scientist argentinian base will be waiting for us, so we have to anchor in Laurie Island. we will also know Punta Cormorán, so we can watch closely a colony of Adelia penguins.

We leave the Orcadas Islands to go to our next meeting place: the Weddell Sea. We will have to go through the Ice Barrier, where we will watch other different species like the sperm whale or non-seen-yet petrels like the Snow Petrel or even the Emperor Penguin. We will also know the Paulet, Deception Islands and Puerto Neko, by navigating the Weddell Sea, during the most intense days of this journey in the Antartica. Then, the american continent will be waiting for us, to Ushuaia´s Port, in Tierra del Fuego.

19 days - 18 nights

Day 1 - Ushuaia

In the afternoon, we will embark in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the southern city of the world, which is surrounded by the last mountain chain (Cordillera de los Andes) and it is bathed by the Beagle Channel waters. We will navigate through the strait.

Day 2 - In the sea.

In the sea, in the west side, several species of albatrosses and petrels, such as the Diving Petrel, will follow the ship.

Day 3 - Falkland Islands

On the third day we will arrive to the Falkland Islands with the purpose of dedicating all day on the west side of the archipelago, which offers an abundant wildlife, where not only observe different species of birds but also you can see southern dolphins. We visited 2 islands: Isla del Rosario and Isla Trinidad. We will hike along the shores of Carcass Island, where we will see Magellanic and Gentoo penguins, as well as having an encounter with birds and herons at night. On the Island of Saunders we can see Rockhopper Penguins, black-faced albatross and King cormorants.

During this part of the trip you can visit the following places:

  • Carcass Island (Isla del Rosario) This island is characterized by an abundance of birds, thanks to the fact that there are no rodents, we can see Magellanic penguins and Gentoo penguins, shorebirds and passerines. We find animals such as the common martinete, the witch heron, as well as seals and penguins. In Puerto Patterson there are different exotic plants, such as fuchsia, canine rose and dark lupine. The name in English of the island is in honor to the ship HMS Carcass pertaining to the British navy, that crossed the island in 1766.
  • Saunders Island (isla Trinidad) In this island of 120 km ² that is to the north of the Great Malvina Island, it is characterized by the ovine production, we see black-browed albatross, imperial cormorants and yellow-crowned penguins, in less proportion, we can get to find king penguins, magellanic and of papúa.

Day 4 - Port Stanley

We will walk through the capital of the Falkland Islands, Port Stanley, we can experience the culture of the inhabitants of the Falklands, which has some south american characteristics as well as Victorian charm, such as the color of their houses or the neatness of their gardens or stylish bars English. In Stanley and the surrounding area, we can see a significant number of beached ships dating back a century. The village museum is small but has interesting things to see as the history of the first settlements.

Stanley, is located in the Soledad Island and continues being known for the British by its old name of Port Stanley and, for the Argentineans, like Puerto Argentino. It is currently the administrative center of the archipelago. They live around 2500 people (three quarters of the total population of the islands). Originally, Stanley was a small town, which since the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, grew thanks to the importance it had in repairing the sailboats that sailed to Cape Horn.

Day 5 to 6 - South Georgia, Antarctic Convergence

We will navigate on the high seas again, in our way to South Georgia, we will cross the Antartic Convergence. We will enter into antartic waters, the temperature will descend 10º C approximately in a very few hours. Closer to the Convergence, we will see a great quantity of birds, next to the ship which will take part of the navigations, as if they were members of the ship, There will be many species, such as albatrosses, petrels, skuas, seagulls, among other bird species.

Day 7 to 10 - South Georgias´Islands

We will get to South Georgias´Islands, where we must visit Elsehuel Bay, with its active seal raising and then, go on to Right Whale Bay, Salisbury Plain, the Gold Harbour and Cooper Bay will give you the great opportunity to see many beautiful landscapes and wild life, such as sea elephants, Papua penguins, King penguins and Macaroni penguins, Grey Head penguins, dark albatrosses, antartic pigeons and even the introduction of a non native animal as the reindeer in the Drygalski Fjord.

One of the corners that we plan to visit is Prion Island, chosen by the wandering albatrosses to nest and raise their chicks. In Fortuna bay we will try to trace the steps that the legendary British explorer Ernest Shackleton made and continue the journey to Stromness Bay. At this point and in Grytviken, the ruins of the abandoned whaling village, now inhabited by king penguins and seals that roam streets and buildings, still remain. The museum of whaling history of Grytviken and the adjacent grave of Shackleton, are other treasures of the past that we will visit.

The weather conditions determine which areas we visit in South Georgia and where we can carry out activities. The destinations to visit can be:

  • Prion Island This site is closed during the beginning of the reproductive period of the wandering albatrosses. As of January, the reproductive adults have already reunited with their partners and are incubating the eggs or taking care of their chicks. Enjoy observing the gentle nature of these animals that have the greatest wingspan of any other bird in the world.
  • Salisbury Plain, St Andrews Bay, Gold Harbor These areas not only house the three largest colonies of king penguins in South Georgia, but also three of the largest breeding beaches of Antarctic fur seals in the world. In the true sense of the word, millions of seals from Antarctica breed in southern Georgia in December and January. Only in the mid-season they reach their peak in the reproductive cycle. Watch as large wolves constantly monitor (and occasionally fight) areas where dozens of women have just given birth or are about to give birth. Watch your steps and stay cool as you walk the beaches during this time.
  • Grytviken At this abandoned whaling station, King penguins roam its streets and the elephant seals inhabit their surroundings as if they were the owners of the place - basically because they are. Here it is possible to visit the South Georgia museum and Shackleton's tomb.

In the afternoon of the 10th, the boat will put forward to our next destination.

Day 11 - Navigating by the sea.

We will continue navigating by the sea, where the ship is followed again by a crowd of sea birds. In some point, we will find frozen sea and it is the edge of the ice where we will able to watch some species, like the MacCormick Skua, Snow Petrel and the evasive Emperor Penguin.

Day 12 - Orcadas Station, Laurie Island

Our next objective will be visiting the Orcadas station, an Argentinian base located in the South Orcadas Islands. The base personal is very welcoming and they will show us the facilities, very close to them, there is a huge colony south petrels and we can enjoy the wonderful views of the glaciers which surround us. When we arrive to the Orcadas, we will anchor in Laurie Island. We can go to Cormoran Point to watch an important colony of Adelia penguins. If the landing on Laurie Island was impossible due to weather conditions, we can go as far as Signy Cove to descend on Signy Island.

Day 13 - Larsen Ice Barrier

We will continue again our navigation route in the high seas to get closer to the ice barrier, we will be able to watch species of the High Antartic, such as the Snow Petrel or the Emperor Penguin. We may find the Sperm Whale of the South, because they start to appear as we are getting closer to the ice barrier.

Day 14 to 16 - Weddell Sea, Paulet Island, Deception Island, Neko Port

The ship moves through the Weddell Sea through ice blocks that drift across the Antarctic Strait. The spectacular tabular icebergs indicate the gateway to the eastern sector of the Antarctic Peninsula. The place chosen to step on Antarctic soil is Brown Bluff, a dark rock formation that serves as a refuge for a large colony of Adélie penguins. If the good weather accompanies the navigation, we will continue walking through the waters of the Weddell. The idea is to visit Charlotte Bay, located on the west coast of the land of Grahan, which was discovered by the Belgian explorer Adrien de Gerlache during his expedition between 1897 and 1899. The name corresponds to the one promised to the second in command of the crew, the hydrographer Georges Lecointe. This picturesque bay is surrounded by mountains, with nunataks that emerge from the icy surface. Among the icebergs that usually abound on the coast, you can see several groups of seals, cook gulls, skuas, cormorants and penguins. Another corner to know is Wilhelmina Bay on the Arctowski peninsula, where we can admire the rugged mountains covered with ice.

In Deception Island, we will try to dock in Baily Head, habitat where there is a hundred thousand colony of Chistrap penguins. Deception is a crater sub-channel which opens to the sea, creating a natural port for the embarkation. Here we will find hot springs, an abandoned whaler station, thousands of pigeons, dominican seagulls, polar skuas and bifurcate tail chestnut and seagulls of the Antartica. We will watch petrel Wilson´s Storm nests and black belly Storm Petrels in the whaler station ruins in the Whalers´ Bay. For those persons who enjoy walking, it can be done by Baily Head to the top of the crater in Whalers´Bay to visit the remains of Hektor station, while our brave ships get into the crater through the espectacular Neptune´s Bellow in the circle of Deception Island.

In the afternoon, we can descend to Half Moon Island, where we can watch Weddell elephants and seals, as well as Chinstrap penguins, Blue eyes Shags, Wilson´s Storm petrels, Kelp seagulls, Snowy Sheatbills, antartic bifurcate tail seagulls and antartic chestnut skuas. In our way to the west, we will navigate to Cuverville Island, a small and rainy island, located between mountains of the Antartic Peninsula. There is a big colony of Gentoo penguins and breeding couples of chestnuts skuas. We expect the time and weather conditions are favorable so we can navigate beyond the south until Neko Port in Andyord Bay and Paradise Bay with the multicoloured icebergs and deep cut fjords, while we have the opportunity to watch big whales. We will have the chance to navigate in zodiac crossing between the icebergs and advance into the fjords.

Day 17 to 18 - Drake Passage

In our way to the north, we will followed again by many species of sea birds, crossing the Sea and Drake Passage.

Day 19 - Ushuaia

We will arrive in Ushuaia in the morning and we will disembark.

Map of Route

 Antarctica and Subantarctic Islands in the M/V Plancius

Services

Services included:
  • The trip on board the ship mentioned as indicated in the itinerary.
  • All meals during the trip on board the ship including snacks, coffee and tea.
  • All excursions and activities in Zodiac boats during the trip.
  • Conference program dictated by naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition team.
  • Free use of rubber boots and snowshoes.
  • Transfer of luggage from the hotel to the ship on boarding day, in Ushuaia.
  • Group transfer with prior notice from the ship to the airport in Ushuaia (directly after disembarking).
  • All service and port taxes during the program.
  • Informative reading material before embarking.
Services not included:
  • Regular or charter air flights.
  • Procedures before or after the start of the trip.
  • Passport and visa expenses.
  • Government arrival and departure taxes.
  • Meals not included in the trip.
  • Baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (highly recommended).
  • Excess baggage charges and all personal items such as laundry, bar, beverage charges and telecommunications charges.
  • The tip at the end of the trip for the waiters and other on-board service personnel (guidelines will be provided).

General information

Malvinas (Falkland Islands)

General information of the Falkland Islands

The archipelago is a treasure for nature lovers and photographers. The islands have diverse wildlife: big rookeries of albatross, five species of penguins, elephant seals and much more. The Falkland Islands offer diverse fauna, apart from the before mentioned: sea lions, southern right whales, dolphins, killer whales, sea gulls, southern crested caracaras, petrels, pigeons, squash, cormorants; great variety of fish such as shellfish, crustacean, and mollusks like octopus. This place has an interesting geology since its islands consist of a rocky terrain covered by grass and moss with some upland areas such as mountains, ridges and flat surfaces. We could also find these "stream of stones" which are relict landforms that become small glaciers every certain period of time. Here we will find fascinating sea world, excellent excursions and of course the warm hospitality of the people. The place has steppe vegetation; therefore, we will not find many trees. Still the islands are covered by good grass, pastures and marshes which are round cushion-forming plants.

We will also find veronica, a bush with beautiful and yellow scented flowers, and pale virgin having white flowers and wild celery. There are about 163 species of autochthonous plants. The Falkland Islands are at about 500 km (300 miles) east of Argentina, at latitude 52° South. They consist of about 800 islands. The two main islands, East Falkland (Soledad) and West Falkland (Gran Malvina), make up the majority of the area, being comparable in size with Jamaica or Northern Ireland. The landscape is generally hilly. A typical feature in Malvinas is the rocky coasts; that is to say, large and extended bays which almost divide the bigger islands. There are also smaller bays, some of which are too small and the ones mainly dividing the coasts. There are high cliffs which are over the Strait of San Carlos.

There are many small inlets and islands scattered over the rocky coasts of the bigger islands. The Falkland Islands have been visited by native people living in the Island of Tierra del Fuego, but there is no actual evidence of their arrival. One of the first ones to catch sight of the island was the famous British explorer John Davis in 1592. The first establishment in the islands was started by the French sailor and explorer Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, in 1764. The name "Malvinas" comes from Malouines, a place name given by the French sailors which refers to the port of Saint-Malos in France, from where they set out. De Bougainville landed there with the French colonizers and started the town of Port Saint Louis in Berkeley, East Island. The sovereignty of these islands is still in dispute between the Argentine Republic and the United Kingdom.

Stanley - Puerto Argentino

PortStanley, located in the East Island, is still known under its former name Port Stanley by the British people and under Puerto Argentino (Argentine Port) by the Argentine people. Today it is the administrative center of the archipelago. About three-quarters of the total population of the islands, around 2500 people, live in this town. Originally Stanley was a small town, but then in the 19th and early 20th century it grew in importance as a repair port for sailing-ships rounding Cape Horn. Its attractions include the port, church, square, West Store (which is the local supermarket), monument to the fallen soldiers in Malvinas' war, and many little houses with roofs of different colors making them picturesque, located in an arid and rocky terrain.

There is also the blow of the wind. The strong storms around Cape Horn often damaged ships which then used Port Stanley for repairs. Ships that were in a too bad condition were usually scuttled in the harbor. After the Panama Canal was opened in 1914, the Cape Horn route became obsolete and Stanley returned to its former insignificant existence. People there live mainly from wool export. But since 1982 Stanley has boomed again due to the sale of fishing licenses to foreign fishing boats.

Climate on the Falkland Islands

These islands have cold maritime climate. Winds are often strong, and temperatures generally range between 5º and 10º C (40º and 50º F). Rain, though sporadic, and sleet can happen at any time of the year.

Flora and Fauna

Since the islands are located far away from the continent, unique wildlife species have developed. The rocky coasts and white-sanded beaches make it an ideal environment for a number of animal species to grow. There are about 60 endemic species of birds on the islands. People going to the islands should visit the black-crowned albatross rookery, since it is also an unforgettable experience. There are also five species of penguins, three of which cannot be found in the Antarctica: yellow-crested penguins, Magellan penguins and King penguin.

South Orkney Islands

Overview of the South Orkney Islands

The South Orkney Islands form an archipelago located east of South Shetland Islands at latitude 60 ° 35' South, and consist of four major islands. The most famous ones are Coronation and Laurie Islands. They were discovered in 1821 when sighted by the British and American hunters George Powell and Nathaniel Palmer. These islands are mainly made of rock and ice (85% are glaciers), and have scarce vegetation. Argentina and the United Kingdom have scientific stations on the islands, Orkney and Signy stations respectively. In the West the Orkney Islands are surrounded by the Big Island of Tierra del Fuego, in the south by the Aurora Islands, and in the North by the Antarctic Peninsula.

Climate on the South Orkney Islands

The climate on the South Orkney Islands is somewhat similar to the one on South Shetland Islands: humid and windy. This is defined as a snowy climate because the place is ice-covered for long periods. The average summer temperature ranges between 0º and 3º C (32º and 37º F). On the Signy Island snow falls about 280 days a year. These islands can be ice-covered for long periods. The highest temperatures registered are 12° C in summer and -45° in winter.

Flora and Fauna on the South Orkney Islands

There we will not find big penguin rookeries. The landscape on the South Orkney Islands is very spectacular. In summer cetacean and pinnipeds grow, as well as Antarctic birds: penguins, petrels, albatross, cormorants and Antarctic pigeons. Sometimes whales can be seen in the area. In winter ice covers a bigger area, so the surface fauna decreases significantly.

Frequently Visited Places
Laurie Island

On this island we should visit the Argentine Station "Orkney Base," in which we could watch baby southern giant petrels. With the authorization of the base staff, who could also visit Punta Cormorán, where is a rookery of Adélie Penguins.

South Shetland Islands

Overview of the South Shetland Islands

The South Shetland Islands are a group of islands (540 km) located at 800 km from Tierra del Fuego and 120 km from the Antarctic Peninsula. The volcanic archipelago comprises 11 bigger islands and a number of smaller islands. Most of them are mountains, and 80 percent of the area is permanently glaciated. The first record of a person who sighted the archipelago dates from 1819, when the ship of the British sailor William Smith sail off course when traveling through Cape Horn. From then on, the islands were visited by seal hunters looking for their fur. These animals practically disappeared after a few years due to the indiscriminate killing. Today they are totally protected, and very few of them can be seen on the islands.

Climate on the South Shetland Islands

The islands are located at latitude 62º South, north of the Antarctic Circle. Curiously, the Shetland Islands and North Orkney Islands are at the same latitude in the Northern hemisphere. However, their climates are quite different. Located within the Antarctic Convergence and near the Antarctic Continent, the climate on these islands is so much colder. However, they have fairly mild climate compared to the Antarctica. Average summer temperatures are 1.5º C. Snow and rain fall during this season.

Flora and fauna

Seabirds such as petrels, skua birds and penguins of different kinds can be seen there. Regarding mammals, we could find diverse seals and whales.

Interesting Places on the South Shetland Islands
Barrientos Island and Aitcho Islands

These are mainly rocky islands where we could find giant petrels. On many of their beaches, we could find penguins and elephant seals. Aitcho Islands are inlets whose vegetation comprises moss and lichens. The most famous islands include Barrientos, Emeline, Jorge, Rocas Morris, Cecilia and Pasaje Roca Islands.

Deception Island

This ring-shaped island is in fact the summit of an active volcano. On one of its coasts, there is a narrow entrance from where ships can enter the crater. On some beaches the waters are warmed by the geothermal energy of the still-active volcano. We could see the remains of a whaling station from the beginning of the 20th century. Deception Island is the most important active volcano of the Bransfield Strait's basin. There are many thermal baths there.

Hannah Point (Livingston Island)

There are many penguins, seals and petrels. Due to environmental reasons, the access to this island is restricted. Livingston Island is the second biggest one of the South Shetland Islands, which is north of Deception Island. The terrain on the island is fairly irregular with high coasts not often visited.

Media Luna Island

This is one of the South Shetland Islands, near Livingston Island. Rookeries of chinstrap penguins and cormorants can be seen there, as well as kelp gulls and Arctic terns. There we will find a small Argentine station: Cámara Lieutenant station. This island became famous at the beginning of the 20th century because of the arrival of seal hunters.


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