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Falkland Islands, South Georgia & Antarctica

Falkland Islands, South Georgia & Antarctica Falkland Islands, South Georgia & Antarctica
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Imagine you’re cruising south towards the Great White Continent, to the Falklands Islands with their gentoo penguins, super-sized seal lions and killer whales, billion-year old rock formations and vivid birdlife ranging from wrens to albatross.

Imagine visiting South Georgia, where you’ll discover historic explorer sites and old whaling stations. You’ll encounter great colonies of impressive king penguins, and fur seals in such numbers that you won’t believe your eyes. Three quarters of the world’s population of these charming ‘sea puppies’ breed here - attracting some deadly hunters; killer whales.

Imagine being confronted by vast colonies of rock-hopper penguins and black-browed albatrosses. Imagine braving the extremes of temperature, the floating ice fields, the monstrous yet beautiful icebergs.

Now imagine that, instead of the comfort of a cruise ship you’re undertaking the 800-mile voyage in a 22 foot boat. That is what Shackleton achieved, before coming to his final resting place at Grytviken.

The legendary Antarctic. Unimaginable.

The Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica is the ultimate itinerary when visiting this part of the planet. Itineraries range in length from 19-21 days and are sometimes reversed, starting with Antarctica and ending with the Falkland Islands.

Shore visits are included but depend on weather conditions. Extra excursions vary with different itineraries and weather, and could typically include:

  • Kayaking to icebergs and floes
  • Camping on the polar ice
  • Hiking

A variety of boats operate this itinerary, but only a handful of times a season (from November to March). The majority of itineraries start and end in Ushuaia, but on occasion begin in Buenos Aires or Puerto Madryn. Some ships also operate 'Air-Cruises', starting or ending with a flight to Stanley on the Falkland Islands from Punta Arenas in Chile (cutting out one of the ocean crossings).

PLEASE NOTE: All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on local ice, weather, and wildlife conditions. The on-board expedition leader will determine the final itinerary. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises.  

To find out more about pricing, please get in touch.

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Falkland Islands, South Georgia & Antarctica

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Day 1 Ushuaia
Ushuaia

Your voyage begins where the world drops off. Ushuaia, Argentina, reputed to be the southernmost city on the planet, is located on the far southern tip of South America. Starting in the afternoon, you embark from this small resort town on Tierra del Fuego, nicknamed “The End of the World,” and sail the mountain-fringed Beagle Channel for the remainder of the evening. 

Day 2 Sailing to the Falkland Islands
Sailing to the Falkland Islands

Several species of albatross follow the vessel into the westerlies, along with storm petrels, shearwaters, and diving petrels. 

Day 3-4 Falkland Islands
Falkland Islands
The Falkland (Malvinas) Islands offer an abundance of wildlife that is easily approachable, though caution is always advised. These islands are largely unknown gems, the site of a 1982 war between the UK and Argentina. Not only do various species of bird live here, but chances are great you’ll see both Peale’s dolphins and Commerson’s dolphins in the surrounding waters. 
 
During this segment of the voyage, you may visit the following sites:
 
Carcass Island – Despite its name, this island is pleasantly rodent-free and hence bounteous with birdlife. Anything from breeding Magellanic penguins and gentoos to numerous waders and passerine birds (including Cobb’s wrens and tussock-birds) live here.  
 
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.
 
The capital of the Falklands and centre of its culture, Port Stanley has some Victorian-era charm: colourful houses, well-tended gardens, and English-style pubs are all to be found here. You can also see several century-old clipper ships nearby, silent witnesses to the hardships of 19th century sailors. The small but interesting museum is also worth a visit, covering the early days of settlement up to the Falklands War. Approximately 2,100 people live in Port Stanley. Feel free to wander at will, though be aware that admission fees to local attractions are not included in the voyage.
Day 5-6 Sailing to South Georgia
Sailing to South Georgia

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 7-10 South Georgia
South Georgia
Today you arrive at the first South Georgia activity site. Please keep in mind that weather conditions in this area can be challenging, largely dictating the program.
 
Over the next several days, you have a chance to visit the following sites:
 
Fortuna Bay – Near beaches inhabited by various penguins and seals, you 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. 
 
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 Antarctic fur seals. Literarally millions breed on South Georgia during December and January. Only during the mid-season do they peak in their breeding cycle. Watch the large bulls keep a constant vigil (and occasionally fight) over territories where dozens of females have just given birth or are about to deliver.  Watch your step and stay cool when walking the beaches during this time.  
 
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. 
 
In the afternoon of day 10 and depending on the conditions, we will start sailing southwards in the direction of the South Orkney Islands.
Day 11-13 South Georgia to Antarctica, via South Orkney
South Georgia to Antarctica, via South Orkney

There may be sea ice on this route, and at the edge of the ice some south polar skuas and snow petrels could join the other seabirds trailing the vessel south. 

Depending on the conditions, you might visit Orcadas Base, an Argentine scientific station on Laurie Island in the South Orkney archipelago. The personnel here will happily show you their facility, where you can enjoy expansive views of the surrounding glaciers. If a visit isn’t possible, you may instead land in Coronation Island’s Shingle Cove.

From South Orkney you will be on the final push to Antarctica.

Enormous icebergs and a fair chance of fin whale sightings ensure there’s never a dull moment on this last sea voyage south. Also, your best chance to spot Antarctic petrels is here.
Day 14-16 Antarctic Peninsula
Antarctic Peninsula

If the ice conditions permit, you now sail into the Weddell Sea. Here colossal tabular icebergs herald your arrival to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. Paulet Island, with its large population of Adélie penguins, is a possible stop. You might also visit Brown Bluff, located in the ice-clogged Antarctic Sound, where you could get the chance to set foot on the Antarctic Continent itself.

If conditions aren’t favourable to enter the Weddell Sea from the east, the ship will set course for Elephant Island and head into the Bransfield Strait, between South Shetland Island and the Antarctic Peninsula. Here you can attempt to access the Antarctic Sound from the northwest. 
 
The breathtaking scenery continues in the Bransfield Straight and, if conditions allow further South in the Gerlache Strait. Conditions on the Drake Passage determine the exact time of departure.
Day 17-18 Sailing the Drake Passage to Ushuaia
Sailing the Drake Passage to Ushuaia

Your return voyage is far from lonely. While crossing the Drake, you’re again greeted by the vast array of seabirds remembered from the passage south. But they seem a little more familiar to you now, and you to them.

Day 19 Ushuaia
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. 

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