Antarctica: Classic South Georgia + The Falklands
21 days with Alexander+Roberts Rating:
Day 1: Welcome to Ushuaia
On arrival, you’ll be warmly greeted and escorted to the 5-star Arakur Resort & Spa.
Day 2: Into Tierra del Fuego + Embark our Ship
This morning’s guided tour explores the pristine forests, waterways and mountains of spectacular Tierra del Fuego National Park. Traveling all the way to Lapataia Bay, you’ll have a chance to observe indigenous species as you learn about the region’s unique geology, flora and fauna. Return to port and board the mv Ushuaia. Settle in to your cabin, meet your expedition staff of leaders, guides and lecturers, and get acquainted with our intimate Polar vessel as you set sail along the Beagle Channel. (B+D)
Day 3: A Day at Sea
The mv Ushuaia navigates toward the Falkland Archipelago, providing you with a full day at sea. Our ship’s unique Open Bridge Policy allows you to join officers on the bridge to learn about navigation, watch for marine life and enjoy the views of the open ocean. These waters are home to an interesting group of seabirds which often ride the currents created in the wake of our ship. You can join our expedition staff on deck to search for seabirds such as albatross and petrels and other wildlife including orcas and dolphins. An interesting selection of lectures will help prepare you for your first excursions in the Falkland Islands. (B+L+D)
[Note: The daily cruise program outlined here for October 18 to November 2 is a sample itinerary only - to give you a general sense of the highlights that will unfold on this cruise. The exact course of your sea voyage will be determined by the ship’s Captain and Expedition Leader on a day-by-day basis based upon local conditions. Likewise, the waters you explore and the islands you will actually visit depend upon these same weather and sea conditions. Although we can assure you of a once-in-a-lifetime voyage filled with unforgettable sightings, experiences and encounters, your safety is the paramount concern of the captain and the entire ship’s staff.]
Day 4: The Western Falkland IslandsIn the morning we hope to reach West Point Island to visit an unusual colony of Black-browed Albatross, that we’ll find nesting together with very energetic Rockhopper Penguins in the shadow of the island’s impressive cliffs. A gentle slope leads up to the site and on our way we can enjoy the beautiful views of the countryside.
The afternoon might find us on Carcass Island, where a dense plantation of tussac grass covers much of the ground below Jason Hill on the eastern end. It is this availability of abundant cover - and the absence of cats, rats and mice throughout the Island’s history - which has made for a spectacularly large population of bird species. Gentoo and Magellanic Penguins breed here and Striated Caracaras are seen throughout. Cobb’s Wrens are also abundant on the island, and Peale’s and Commerson’s dolphins often come close to shore. With a little luck, Rob McGill, the owner of this delightful island, might have the kettle on and invite us in for tea with scones and cake. (B+L+D)
Day 5: From the Eastern Falklands toward South Georgia
The quaint little town of Stanley was established in the early 1840’s but has progressed and grown considerably, especially over the past several decades. But despite the town’s growth and population increase, we won’t have to go far to enjoy the outstanding wildlife the Eastern Falklands have to offer. Southern Giant Petrels often fly close to the shoreline, keeping up with local residents driving along the front road. Endemic Falkland Steamer Ducks abound on the shore while Kelp Gulls can often be seen flying up in the air, dropping mussels on to the roads, so that the shells crack allowing them to eat the contents. Smaller birds to be seen include the Falkland Thrush, the Red-breasted long-tailed Meadowlark and Black-chinned Siskin. This afternoon, the mv Ushuaia sets sail on a course for South Georgia. (B+L+D)
Day 6: En route to South Georgia
As you begin three days of cruising across these open waters, our extensive lecture program will really get underway. The ship’s Expedition Team of expert naturalists and lecturers will share their extensive knowledge of the wildlife and unique ecosystems which you will encounter throughout the rest of your upcoming voyage. Again, the mv Ushuaia’s Open Bridge Policy and ample deck space afford plenty of opportunity to learn more about Polar navigation and to watch for marine and bird life in the open waters. (B+L+D)
Day 7: At sea
Another enriching day at sea unfolds. Enjoy lectures, bridge visits and spending time on deck with our sharp-eyed and knowledgeable Expedition Team. (B+L+D)
Day 8: Approaching South Georgia
With favorable conditions, South Georgia will come into sight today! Though extremely isolated, the island offers amazing scenery ranging from high mountains and mighty glaciers to deep fjords and low-lying grassland. If weather and sea conditions are favorable later this afternoon, we may be able to navigate into Right Whale Bay, a name that dates back to the early 20th century when South Georgia was still a center for commercial whaling. The bay’s black ashen beaches are home to a small colony of King Penguins along with Giant Petrels and Elephant Seals. (B+L+D)
Day 9: Exploring South Georgia
You’ll spend the next 3 days cruising and exploring magnificent South Georgia. Our exact itinerary will be determined by local conditions on sea and land. Among the destinations we hope to explore are:
Once a thriving whaling station, the remains of Grytviken stand as a reminder of an era of exploitation that thankfully grows more distant by the day. Grytviken has an excellent natural history museum but also offers possibilities for hikes in the surrounding mountains. A short zodiac ride around King Edward cove brings us to the grave of Sir Ernest Shackleton. Join the Ushuaia’s staff for a graveside toast honoring this remarkable explorer and venerated mariner.
Sometimes called the “Serengeti of the South”, Salisbury Plain is a wildlife site without parallel. Several large glaciers provide a dramatic backdrop for the tens of thousands of King Penguins that breed in the tussock grass of this remarkable ecosystem. The wide beach makes for excellent walking as we visit the colonies, where we are literally surrounded and delightfully outnumbered by throngs of curious, gentle penguins. In November the beaches are a haven for fur seals, which will give birth at this time. Elephant seal weaners will also join into the general concert and some big elephant seal bulls are lazing a bit further away from the waterfront. Southern Giant Petrels and the occasional wandering Gentoo Penguin will also make for great photo opportunities. Prepare for an awe-inspiring experience. (B+L+D)
Day 10: Farther afield in South Georgia
Again, as land and sea conditions permit, our landing sites and visits here on South Georgia might include the following:
Prion Island is a beautiful tussac-grass covered islet. With luck, you’ll have an opportunity to see a breeding colony of Wandering Albatross on the summit of the island, which is accessible by a wooden boardwalk with comfortable viewing platforms.
Cooper Bay is at the southeast tip of South Georgia and offers a wealth of wildlife including Chinstrap, Gentoo and Macaroni Penguins. There are also plenty of fur seals on the beaches. Fascinating volcanic rock formations tower over small fjords, making this a terrific place for a thrilling Zodiac cruise to watch wildlife from the waterfront. (B+L+D)
Day 11: Another day of discovery
Guided shore landings and visits continue as weather, sea and land conditions permit. Among the sites we might explore today are:
St. Andrews Bay
The surf beaten coastline at St. Andrews Bay runs north-south in a nearly 2-mile long sweep of fine dark sand, covered in penguins and seals and bounded in the interior by the Cook, Buxton and Heaney Glaciers. The bay hosts the largest colony of King Penguins on South Georgia. At this time of year, the beach is often crowded with fur and elephant seals. Such a large assemblage of wildlife attracts an entourage of persistent and voracious scavengers. Sheathbills dart in and around the penguin colony and Cape Petrels nest on the cliffs north of St. Andrews Bay. Leopard seals patrol the rocks at this end of the beach too, hunting penguins along the edge of kelp beds. A few White-chinned Petrels and Light-mantled Sooty Albatross nest on the tussock slopes. Brown Skuas and Antarctic Terns breed on the outwash plain and scree slopes at the north end of the beach, defending their nest sites with their characteristic noise and vigor.
The 9-mile long Drygalski Fjord offers spectacular scenery. Although Drygalski Fjord’s glaciers have retreated over the recent decades, they remain one of the most striking features of this coastline, particularly the Risting and Jenkins Glaciers. This is also one of the principal breeding areas for Snow Petrels in South Georgia. The birds nest on the cliff buttresses and mountain ridges along the shores and mix with Cape Petrels on the lower ledges. Both species can be seen flying along the cliffs as they come and go from their nest sites. Blue-eyed Shags, Wilson’s Storm Petrels and Antarctic Terns are also a common sight as they feed in the plankton-rich upwellings in front of the glaciers. (B+L+D)
Day 12: A final day in South Georgia
A final day in these waters might find us exploring the Godthul Inlet that lies between Cape George and Long Point. Gentoo Penguins are abundant on the tussac plateau and the calls of Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses echo off the cliffs that encircle the harbor like a natural amphitheater. Scattered along the beach, rusting barrels and the remains of sheds and boats bear silent witness to the whaling operation that thrived here from 1908 until 1929. (B+L+D)
Day 13: Cruising toward the Antarctic Peninsula
Today finds the mv Ushuaia crossing the Scotia Sea towards the Antarctic Peninsula. You can spend time on deck with our Expeditions Team and naturalists or visit with the Officers on the Bridge. Our program of lectures and activities continues throughout the passage. (B+L+D)
Day 14: Another enriching day at sea
Another day at sea provides an excellent opportunity to be out on deck with our Expedition Team, to catch up on your reading, to edit your photos, or to spend time with your fellow passengers reflecting on the amazing experiences you’ve shared. (B+L+D)
Day 15: Elephant Island, South Shetland Islands
Today we hope to have a chance to call upon Elephant Island. Exploration history buffs will need no introduction to this windswept island. In 1916, Sir Ernest Shackleton was forced to leave 22 of his men stranded on these shores while he and five others embarked on an unbelievable last-ditch rescue attempt. What transpired is regarded as one of the greatest rescue stories of all time. Every passenger will come away from this experience with a deep appreciation for this gripping tale of adventure. (B+L+D)
Day 16: Antarctic Peninsula + Antarctic SoundThis morning, our ship’s Expedition Team will prepare you for the experiences that lie ahead as we approach the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands. Later in the day, we hope to arrive at the Peninsula in the area of the scenic Antarctic Sound. Here we will try to land at one of the following landing sites:
At the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula the mighty ice-tongue of the Depot glacier has cut a broad valley into the continent. In the meantime the glacier has retreated and left a large inlet, Hope Bay. It is here, where the biggest station of the entire Antarctic Peninsula is situated, the Argentine Station Esperanza. The friendly base personnel might give us a tour of their installations, including the little church and the school they operate for their children.
This promontory on the Tabarin Peninsula just south of Hope Bay is the center of the Peninsula’s Adélie Penguin populations. (B+L+D)
Day 17: Along the Antarctic Peninsula
Again, as land and sea conditions permit, our landing sites along the Antarctic Peninsula could explore:
This region of broad straits, mountainous islands, protected bays and narrow channels offers moments of solitude. A profusion of tall peaks, never scaled by humans, and vast glaciers add to the remote beauty of these waters.
This small group of islands which lie at the northern entrance to the Gerlache Strait is home to breeding colonies of Chinstrap Penguins, Blue-eyed shags and Kelp Gulls.
In the center of the Gerlache Strait in the scenic Errera Channel, this pristine island has a raised beach that provides a nesting site for many Gentoo Penguins. (B+L+D)
Day 18: Our exploration continues
Another day of exploration along the Antarctic Peninsula and among the South Shetland Islands will again be guided by local conditions on land and sea. Our visits could include:
Long ago, volcanic pressure on Deception Island resulted in a tremendous eruption that caused the island’s peak to explode. The resulting caldera flooded with seawater, creating the unique landmass we may visit today. Our Captain will expertly pilot the ship through a narrow gateway in the icy cliffs of the island, taking the MV Ushuaia into the caldera itself. Hundreds of thousands of Chinstrap Penguins inhabit the outer volcanic slopes of the island at Baily Head, along with nesting Pintado Petrels and Antarctic Terns.
Half Moon Island
This crescent-shaped island at the entrance of Moon Bay is home to Chinstrap Penguins who thrive in this breathtakingly beautiful and pristine environment. (B+L+D)
Day 19: Northward across the Drake Passage
Having left the Antarctic Peninsula behind us the night before, today opens to find our ship heading across the Drake Passage. Named after the renowned explorer, Sir Francis Drake, who sailed these waters in 1578, the Drake Passage also marks the Antarctic Convergence, a biological barrier where cold polar water sinks beneath the warmer northern waters. This creates a great upwelling of nutrients, which sustains the biodiversity of this region. The Drake Passage also marks the northern limit of many Antarctic seabirds. As we sail across the passage, our Expedition lecturers will be out with you on deck to help in the identification of whales and an amazing variety of seabirds, including many albatrosses, which follow in our wake. Join our naturalists for some final lectures and take the chance to relax and reflect on the fascinating adventures of the past days on the way back to Ushuaia. (B+L+D)
Day 20: At Sea + Cruising toward South America
Lectures, briefings and visits to the bridge continue on this second day navigating northward through the Drake Passage. (B+L+D)
Day 21: Depart Ushuaia
Step off in Ushuaia for a guided tour of this bustling port, uniquely situated at the end of the Continent between the snowcapped Martial Range and the sea. After sightseeing we’ll take you to the airport for your onward journey. (B)
All This Included
Exploring the South Shetlands and along the Peninsula, this extensive Antarctica cruise also takes you to the Western and Eastern Falklands, rich with history and diverse fauna. Extremely isolated, South Georgia is the highlight of this unique voyage, with 4 days to explore the island’s must-see sites including the Salisbury Plain, nicknamed the “Serengeti of the South” for its abundant wildlife!
Ushuaia: Arakur Resort & Spa
Cruising: Cabin onboard mv Ushuaia
Pre and Post Add-ons
Antarctica - Buenos Aires Pre-tour
3 Day Extension from $1599
Two nights at the elegant Sofitel in the heart of the capital with sightseeing, transfers and roundtrip flights to Ushuaia.
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.