Visit the Falkland Island and South Georgia—two amazing wildlife destinations in their own right—and then cruise south, crossing the Antarctic Circle and visiting the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands.
Nestled within the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, Ushuaia offers a surprising number of shops, museums, cafes and restaurants. Great Argentinean steak and seafood abound, as does plenty of tasty chocolate to enjoy after you work up an appetite by exploring the nearby mountains or national park.
As we embark, the anticipation and excitement grows for what lies ahead. As every Antarctic adventure presents new opportunities and experiences, Embarkation day is just as exciting for your Expedition Team as it is for you. They're onboard to ensure your comfort and safety, as well as help make your wildlife dreams come true.
There are many activities to keep you engaged while we're at sea. You can take advantage of the library of books available on your ship, hang out at the bar chatting to other travelers or spend time out on deck, admiring the sea. Your Expedition Team will also conduct a series of presentations to familiarize yourself with how to prepare for Zodiac cruises and shore landings.
The Falkland archipelago contains two main islands - East and West, which we will explore by Zodiac excursions and daily landings. These rugged islands have a frontier type feel to them, especially at Port Stanley - the largest settlement on the islands. It's an interesting British outpost type place, where you may just as easily wander into a pub as you will a church or museum.
With your camera at hand, our wildlife sightings in the Falklands should include at least three species of penguins and two endemic bird species - Cobb's wren and the Falkland's flightless steamer duck.
Your team of lecturers and specialists will be sure to educate you on the local flora and fauna so that you get the most out of a memorable time in the Falklands.
En-route to South Georgia you'll cross the invisible biological boundary unique to Antarctica – the Antarctic Convergence. This meeting of oceans is what creates the abundance of krill and marine life that attracts large cetaceans, such as humpback whales.
Evidence of the old whaling and sealing heydays is still found throughout the island. You'll be surprised to learn that the whale and seal populations were once decimated here, as today their populations are strong, with massive rookeries to be seen.
One significant and historic site that will be of interest is the grave of the great explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton. His grave at the settlement of Grytviken, which is also home to an old whaling station and a research station, is a day for reflecting on what it must've been like to be one of the first explorers to this unforgiving, yet beautiful environment.
While South Georgia's history is an important attraction to the islands, it is the wildlife on South Georgia that you and your shipmates will likely find the most captivating. Often referred to as the Galapagos of the Poles, South Georgia contains an exceptional quantity of wildlife. Each landing you make on South Georgia will open your eyes to a new wonder of wildlife. One day you may see rookeries with a hundred thousand pairs of king penguins waddling on the beach. The next day we may another beach with thousands of fur or elephant seals.
The grasses, mountains and beaches of South Georgia all play an important role in the breeding and survival of different bird and animal species. Your Expedition Team will be happy to share their knowledge of how these vulnerable relationships all play out on the island.
Antarctica awaits, along with its own penguin and seal species. While you're at sea, you can enjoy some quiet time or take in presentations by the Expedition Team, which will cover everything from the history and geology of Antarctica to tips on identifying different species and what makes them each unique. With good weather conditions, a landing at the South Orkney Islands may mark your official landing on Antarctica.
The most common reaction to arriving at the white continent is a sense of reverence and awe. The experience is hard to put into words. You will discover that Antarctica is a land of extremes; at one moment you'll be overcome with a feeling of complete silence and loneliness, then the next you'll be laughing at the comical antics of a curious penguin.
Glacier hikes, visits to research bases and, of course, communing with the seals and penguins are sure to keep you smiling each and every day. Perhaps you'll catch sight of the fearless penguin-eater, the leopard seal, or come eye to eye with a curious Minke whale while out on a Zodiac ride. Each day and each landing will present a new collection of creatures to entertain you and keep your camera shutter busy.
If you find yourself wanting more, then perhaps you'll treat yourself by booking our kayaking adventure option (reserve in advance when booking your trip) or if you're feeling a bit overwhelmed, a little shock therapy courtesy of a polar plunge might be what you need!
Crossing the Antarctic Circle is an impressive achievement, as most expeditions to the Peninsula do not come close to reaching this far south.
With a toast to the first explorers who ventured here, you can raise a glass of champagne and take pride in knowing you've made it to a part of the world still visited by very few people. This is raw Antarctica, home to the midnight sun, with potential for some fantastic iceberg sightings.
If you haven't had your fill of Antarctic wildlife and icebergs by now, you'll surely be satisfied by the time we return to the Drake Passage. We'll continue to journey onto land and out by Zodiac twice daily. Your Expedition Team will also be on the lookout for any species of penguins, seals and whales that may have eluded you on the journey south.
After more than a dozen days of memorable wildlife encounters, your journey home begins. Crossing the Drake Passage is your unofficial rite of passage, putting a final stamp of approval on your Antarctic adventure.
After breakfast aboard the ship, it is time to part ways and say goodbye to your Expedition Team and fellow travelers. We will transfer you to the airport for your homeward flight.
PLEASE NOTE: Due to the nature of expedition cruising, itineraries are subject to change due to weather, ice conditions, natural and cultural events, wildlife viewing opportunities and other logistical considerations. In general, a ship's crew will endeavor to complete the itinerary provided, but the ultimate decision lies with the ship's captain and expedition leaders.