... and in Grytviken there are still the ruins of the abandoned villa of the whalers, currently populated by the king penguins and the seals that roam the streets and buildings. The whale history museum of Grytviken and the beautiful tomb of Shackleton, are other treasures of the past that we will visit. Our third point of interest is the South Orkney Islands, where we will see the argentine station. On this island there is a colony of south giant petrels. We try to anchor in Laurie Island, then we can enter Punta Cormorant to spot Adelia penguins.
The fourth objective of our trip is: The legendary Elephant Island. To talk about this island is to talk about Ernest Shackleton, where he achieved one of the most important feats of humanity, by using a small lifeboat, the James Caird, in the spring of 1916 and after sailing so many miles from the South Georgia to see appear on the horizon Elephant Island, it is difficult not to marvel at the thought of how he and his five-man crew accomplished this feat. The objective of such a feat was to rescue the rest of the twenty-two shipwrecked crew members of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, also known as the Endurance expedition, who were stranded on Elephant Island. For four months Shackleton committed to this legendary rescue. We sailed with Zodiac boats to Punta Wild, where the abandoned members of the Shackleton expedition miraculously managed to survive.
We approach the fifth object of the program: The Antarctic Peninsula, next to the South Shetland Islands. Finally, the last objective is to go down to the Crystal Strait to reach the Antarctic Polar Circle. It is possible to disembark on Detaille Island to go to an abandoned british base and observe the beautiful landscape. Then we continue to the Lemaire canal and the Gerlache Strait.
23 days - 22 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 Georgia Island
We will get to South Georgia Island, 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.
- Fortuna Bay It is a bay with a length of 5,000 meters and 1,600 meters wide, which is located between Cape Best and Punta Robertson, very close to Mount Atherton on the north coast of San Pedro Island. Its name is in honor of the whaling ship of argentine origin: El Fortuna, which was one of the ships that worked at the Grytviken whaling station, on South Georgia Island in 1905. Nearby is Ocean Harbor (Puerto Nueva Fortuna). Its beaches are packed with penguins and seals. We can get to make the final route that Ernest Shackleton did to go to the whaling station of Stromness.
- 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 - The legendary Elephant Island
In the previous days we have tried to follow the steps that made Ernest Shackleton, seeking to make the same route, although in the opposite direction. Sir Ernest Shackleton made the route using only a small lifeboat, the James Caird, in the spring of 1916. Seeing Elephant Island appear on the horizon after navigating so many miles from the South Georgia, it is hard not to marvel at the thought of how he and his five-man crew accomplished this feat. The purpose of such a feat was to rescue the rest of the twenty-two crew members who were shipwrecked from the Trans-Antarctic Imperial Expedition, also known as the Endurance expedition, who were stranded on Elephant Island. For four and a half months Shackleton committed to this legendary rescue. The conditions on Elephant Island were severe. The coast of Elephant Island has vertical rock walls and ice cliffs extremely exposed to the elements. If possible, we will approach the Zodiac boats to Punta Wild, where the abandoned members of the Shackleton expedition miraculously managed to survive.
Day 14 - Antarctic Peninsula: Farallón Brown
If ice allows, we will navigate to the Antarctic Strait from the northwest end of the Weddell Sea. Here the colossal tabular icebergs proclaim the arrival to the eastern confines of the Antarctic Peninsula. Farallón Brown is a potential landing site, where you could have the opportunity to set foot on the Antarctic continent. It is a beach with a mixture of sand and rock, with cliffs eroded by the wind, this explains why stones crumble from the slopes. The ice is permanent as are the glaciers. It is ideal to disembark here for the fauna diversity: Papua penguin (Pygoscelis papua), Adelia penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae), petrel damero (Daption capense), white petrel (Pagodroma nivea), skúa (Catharacta spp.) and cook seagull (Larus dominicanus ), everyone has chosen this site for reproduction. But we can also see the common giant petrel (Macronectes giganteus), southern fulmar (fulmarus glacialoides) and Wilson's petrel (Oceanites oceanicus), although in the case of petrels and fulmar it is still doubtful if they migrate to this region to reproduce. We can also see leopard seals hunting on the coasts.
Day 15 - South Shetland Islands
The South Shetland volcanic islands are whipped by the wind and usually covered by fog but they do not stop offering subtle pleasures. A great variety of flora (mosses, lichens, blooming grasses) and fauna (Papua penguins, chinstrap and giant petrel from the South) inhabit the islands.
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.
Day 16 to 20 - Entering Antarctica
We enter the Antarctic continent, where we see a landscape covered with gray and snow-stained mountains, cracked ice towers of whitish blue and a completely different fauna on the surface and in the sea, welcome you to the supernatural world of Antarctica. We enter the area through the Gerlache Strait, entering one of the most beautiful scenarios that Antarctica offers.
Some of the places you can visit include:
- Port Neko The landscape takes us, the fantastic snow-covered glaciers that look like carved by the wind are truly epic. In Port Neko you can navigate in Zodiac boats to disembark near the alpine peaks. On the coasts of Puerto Neko you can see the beach and a small outcrop of rocks and in the background peaks surrounded by cracked glaciers, being able to see how ice comes off the glaciers that cover the bay. On land we see the Weddell seal and it is a breeding habitat for the cook seagull, Papua penguin and skúas. The bases of an argentine refuge still remain, since in 2010, due to strong winds, this refuge was disarmed.
- Paradise Bay In this bay we can sail in the Zodiac boats and have good possibilities to see humpback whales and Minke whales. Also known as Puerto Paraíso, it is a natural harbor on the Danco Coast in the Antarctic Peninsula. The ships reach the peninsula mainly to two ports: Port Paradise and Port Neko. It owes its name to one of the whaling ships operating in the area on the expedition of the Belgian Adrien de Gerlache in 1898. We found in this bay the Argentine scientific base Almirante Brown that opened in 1951.
- Pléneau & Peterman Islands If the Lemaire channel is free of ice, depending on the weather conditions we will navigate through this channel to witness Adelia penguins, blue-eyed cormorants and leopard seals. As in Paradise Bay, on these islands you can see minke and humpback whales. Peterman Island is covered by glaciers, permanent ice and has cracks and its coasts are irregular with stony bays. Pléneau Island also has pebble beaches, with characteristics similar to Peterman Island, we can see Weddell seals, southern sea elephant that remain regularly on land and reproduce in this area , cormoran imperial, cook seagull, antarctic seagulls, and papua penguins.
The objective is to continue our itinerary descending to approach the Crystal Strait and the Antarctic Polar Circle. It is possible to make a landing on Detaille Island and visit an abandoned British base and absorb the endless landscape. Then you will venture once more in the area of the Lemaire Channel and the Gerlache Strait. As with all our antarctic cruises, the weather will determine the exact departure time for go to the Drake Passage,
Day 21 to 22 - 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 23 - Ushuaia
We will arrive in Ushuaia in the morning and we will disembark.
Map of Route
- 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).