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Falkland Islands, South Georgia & Antarctic Peninsula
This Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and Antarctic Peninsula cruise is an animal-loverâ€™s dream come true. The expedition explores one of the last untamed areas on Earth â€“ a land of ruggedly beautiful landscapes and amazingly varied wildlife.
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 â€śThe End of the World,â€ť and sail the mountain-fringed Beagle Channel for the remainder of the evening.
Several species of albatross follow the vessel into the westerlies, along with storm petrels, shearwaters, and diving petrels.
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 youâ€™ll see both Pealeâ€™s dolphins and Commersonâ€™s dolphins in the surrounding waters.
During this segment of the voyage, you may visit the following sites:
Carcass Island â€“ 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 Cobbâ€™s wrens and tussock-birds) live here.
Saunders Island â€“ 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 center of its culture, Port Stanley has some Victorian-era charm: colorful 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.
Days 5 - 6 At SeaOn Board the M/V Ortelius
Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
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.
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:
Prion Island â€“ This location is closed during the early part of the wandering albatross breeding season (November 20 â€“ January 7). From January on, the breeding adults have found their partners and are sitting on eggs or nursing their chicks. Enjoy witnessing the gentle nature of these animals, which possess the largest wingspan of any birds in the world.
Fortuna Bay â€“ Near beaches inhabited by various penguins and seals, you have the chance to follow the final leg of Shackletonâ€™s route to the abandoned whaling village of Stromness. This path cuts across the mountain pass beyond Shackletonâ€™s Waterfall, and as the terrain is partly swampy, be prepared to cross a few small streams.
Salisbury Plain, St. Andrews Bay, Gold Harbour â€“ These sites not only house the three largest king penguin colonies in South Georgia, theyâ€™re also three of the worldâ€™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 â€“ In this abandoned whaling station, king penguins walk the streets and elephant seals lie around like they own the place â€“ because they basically do. Here you might be able to see the South Georgia Museum as well as Shackletonâ€™s grave.
Day 11 At SeaOn Board the M/V Ortelius
Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
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 isnâ€™t possible, you may instead land in Signy Islandâ€™s Shingle Cove.
Day 13 At SeaOn Board the M/V Ortelius
Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
Enormous icebergs and a fair chance of fin whale sightings ensure thereâ€™s never a dull moment on this last sea voyage south. Also, your best chance to spot Antarctic petrels is here.
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 AdĂ©lie 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 arenâ€™t favorable 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 southern Gerlache Strait, and if ice conditions allow, we may even reach Lemaire Channel. Conditions on the Drake Passage determine the exact time of departure.
Your return voyage is far from lonely. While crossing the Drake, youâ€™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.
Every adventure, no matter how grand, must eventually come to an end. Itâ€™s now time to disembark in Ushuaia, but with memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.
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. Average cruising speed of m/v Ortelius is 10.5 knots .
Price IncludesVoyage Aboard the Designated Vessel As Indicated in the Itinerary.
Meals As Mentioned
Program of Lectures
Free Use of Rubber Boots and Snow Shoes
Transfer Ship to Airport
Tax and Port Charges
Price Does Not IncludeAir
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