Antarctic Express: Fly/Cruise Antarctica, South Georgia & Falklands (Sea Adventurer) 2016 - 2017
Follow in the wake of some of the worldâs hardiest explorers on this comprehensive voyage around the Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetland Islands, South Georgia and the Falklands. Bypass the Drake Passage with an included flight into King George Island, then spend four unforgettable days at sea exploring the Antarctic Peninsula, its epic panoramas and incredible wildlife. Land at various points of historic interest in the South Shetlands and South Georgia, zip around in search of whales and penguins by Zodiac and enjoy supreme comfort in a truly inhospitable environment. No matter where youâve been or what youâve seen before, this trip is bound to exceed even the loftiest of travel expectations.
- Take regular walks and Zodiac rides in search of extraordinary wildlife. From penguins and reindeer to whales and seals, the Antarctic is teeming with life
- Flights from Punta Arenas provide speed and accessibility to the remote destination of Antarctica, and are perfect for those who are nervous about crossing the Drake Passage
- Following in the course taken by Charles Darwin and the explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton evokes a real sense of history
- This trip offers a well-balanced mix of time spent at sea and visiting the region's diverse islands. Wherever you are, youâll be right in the middle of landscapes that are like nowhere else on earth
- On-board polar experts provide great insight into the history, geology and wildlife of the region, complementing what you see around you each day
- See king penguins and fur seals on South Georgia
- Soak up the British vibe of the Falklands
|Physical||Cultural||responsibleTravel||Max Group Size||117||Duration||17 days|
|Themes||Polar, Sailing, Wildlife, Wildlife|
|Category||Gold||Trips for those who want a tonne of inclusions, better standard accommodation, larger roomier vehicles.|
Day 1 - Ushuaia
Ushuaia is a busy port town on the island of Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America. If you have some free time before the trip begins, explore this town at the âend of the worldâ. Perhaps take a short trek around the breathtaking lake at Laguna Esmeralda or have some dinner in the evening with your new group.
Note: If you decide to go to Laguna Esmeralda during your free time, itâs a good idea to take good hiking boots with you, as the walk can be muddy and slippery.
Day 2 - Ushuaia
Note: If youâre flying from Punta Arenas to Antarctica you will meet up with the rest of the group when the boat arrives at the Antarctic Peninsula.
Day 3-4 - Drake Passage
Day 5-7 - Antarctic Peninsula
Make your first landing by Zodiak on the Antarctic Peninsula, perhaps enjoying panoramic views from the top of a nearby hill. Other possible adventures include exploring the historic site of Port Lockroy, watching glaciers calve into the sea at Petermann Island or cruising around Pleneau Island in search of elephant and fur seals.
POSSIBLE LANDING SITES
A gentoo penguin rookery is situated on the north end of the island on a rocky beach. Depending on the time of season you visit, you may see them building nests or attending to their chicks. Giant petrels and kelp gulls also breed on the island.
If you're lucky enough to mail a postcard in Antarctica, youâll likely pass through Damoy Point. This is the northern entrance to the harbour on which Port Lockroy is located.
This small island, 1.6 km (one mile) in length, is easy to explore and home to gentoo penguins. Visit the marker of a former British Antarctic Survey hut and watch out for a variety of seabirds such as snowy sheathbills, kelp gulls and blue-eyed shags.
Located in Wilhelmina Bay, this island was once used by whalers. A Zodiac cruise around the island passes by a wrecked whaling ship.
This strait runs between Booth Island and the Antarctic Peninsula, and is one of the most scenic locations on the western coast, especially during sunrise and sunset. The 11 km (6.8 mile) channel may become impassable when ice fills the narrow passageway, so weâll hope for clear waters.
This is a group of low islands in Dallmann Bay, on which you may see male fur seals haul-out at the end of the breeding season to recuperate from their battles for supremacy.
This bay was once used by the floating whale factory ship Neko. You may see some whale vertebrae used by resident gentoo penguins as shelter from the wind. There's an unmanned refuge hut here, erected by Argentina. Climb past the hut and up a steep slope for spectacular views of the glacier-rimmed harbour.
Here, near the Lemaire Channel, you can stand ashore and see the southernmost breeding colony of gentoo penguins. Adelie penguins, shags and south polar skuas also inhabit the island. The dome of the island rises 200 meters (650 feet) above the sea, offering a challenging hike for panoramic views.
Journey to Port Lockroy if weather permits. The harbour is on the west side of Wiencke Island. A secret base was built here during the Second World War as part of Operation Tabarin. It's now designated as a historic site, featuring a museum and the world's southernmost post office. Proceeds from your purchases here support the preservation of historic sites from the Heroic Age of Exploration.
At low tide this historic point is connected to the Antarctic mainland. Zodiacs can be used to explore the area when the tide is in. Two scientists studying penguin behaviour lived in a water boat on the point from 1921-22. The remains of their camp have been designated as an Antarctic historic site.
This is a group of small islands, some still unnamed, situated in the northern entrance of the English Strait. You can often spot a great mix of wildlife here, including at the established rookeries of gentoo and chinstrap penguins. Southern elephant and fur seals are frequently hauled-out here too.
Also known as Rancho Point, this area is a rocky headland on the southeastern shore of Deception Island. Chinstrap penguins build nests on slopes leading to a high ridge, which dominates a natural amphitheater and provides a superb setting for landscape photography.
HALF MOON ISLAND
This crescent-shaped island was known to sealers as early as 1821. Unlike the sealers who liked to keep their best locations secret, weâre happy to bring you ashore on this impressive island. Many Antarctic birds breed here, including chinstrap penguins, shags, Wilsonâs storm-petrels, kelp gulls, snowy sheathbills, Antarctic terns and skua.
Macaroni, chinstrap and gentoo penguin rookeries are located on the point, which is on the south coast of Livingston Island. Due to the rather congested area available to the nesting penguins, you can only visit here from 10 January onwards.
Hot geothermal waters are found along the shoreline of this cove, which was named after observations made in 1829 by a British expedition. You may see yellow algae and boiled krill floating on the surface because of the scalding hot water.
Antarctica has two flowering plants, both of which you can find on Penguin Island: Deschampsia antarctica and Colobanthus quitensis. Chinstrap penguins, fur seals and southern elephant seals use the island for breeding purposes.
A nice spot for Zodiac cruising, this point was known to sealers as early as 1820. Chinstrap penguins, kelp gulls and pintado breed here, and whales may be seen in the surrounding waters.
Your expedition team will point out where the most recent evidence of volcanic eruption on Deception Island can be seen.
Chinstrap and Adelie penguin rookeries are found on this point, which is situated on the south coast of King George Island. The beaches are often crowded with southern elephant, fur, and Weddell seals hauled-out on the rocks.
To reach Whalerâs Bay, sail through the narrow passage of Neptuneâs Bellows. The bay was used by whalers from 1906 to 1931 and is part of a protected harbour created by a circular flooded caldera, known as Deception Island. Along with waddling penguins and lounging seals, youâll see the rusty remains of whaling operations on the beach. Watch for steam rising from geothermally-heated springs along the shoreline.
Gentoo penguins have established a rookery on this harbour, which is situated on the southwest side of Greenwich Island. You can also see an abandoned Argentine refuge hut and a huge glacier stretching along the east and north sides of the bay. An abandoned try-pot is all that remains of the sealing activity that brought men thousands of miles to seek their fortune.
The following Optional Activities are available to participate in, on some or all of the departures of this itinerary. These must be booked in advance (additional costs apply) and space is limited.
KAYAKING â Our kayaking adventures are the best way to feel at one with the sea. Taken in small groups of maximum 16 people, multiple times per voyage, kayaking adventures are only conducted during calm weather conditions. Kayaking is open to all levels of experience, however kayaking in the polar waters is not suitable for novice kayakers. Beginners interested in kayaking should first take an introductory course prior to the voyage which includes how to do a wet exit. In addition regardless of your experience, we recommend you take part in some kayaking practise prior to the voyage to ensure that you are comfortable on the water in the icy conditions.
Day 8-10 - At Sea
Day 11-13 - South Georgia
Perhaps visit the grave of the great explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton, at the settlement of Grytviken. There is a museum, small gift shop, church and an active scientific research station in the vicinity. The group might also visit St. Andrewâs Bay, an area where reindeer and king penguins can often be spotted.
Note: If youâre flying from Antarctica to Punta Arenas then youâll leave the group at this point of the trip.
POSSIBLE LANDINGS AND WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS - SOUTH GEORGIA
This is a photogenic and dramatic fjord, with sharp and jagged peaks rising out of the sea. Glaciation never reached the peaks of this fjord, giving it a unique landscape.
The backdrop to this harbour is the hanging Bertrab Glacier. King and gentoo penguins call this place home, as do rowdy elephant and fur seals.
Only a handful of people live on South Georgia, a United Kingdom overseas territory. Two of them are curators of the South Georgia Museum, located in the former whaling station managerâs villa. A church was built for the whaling community and is the only building in Grytviken that is still used for its original purpose.
Robert Cushman Murphy named this island for the species of petrels seen here. Wandering albatross are also known to nest on the island.
One of the largest king penguin rookeries in South Georgia is located on Salisbury Plain. The Murphy and Lucas Glaciers flank the plain, creating a perfect backdrop for photographers.
ST. ANDREW'S BAY
Thousands of breeding pairs of king penguins nest at St. Andrewâs Bay. It is the largest king penguin rookery on South Georgia and quite a spectacle to behold. Reindeer introduced by Norwegian whalers are known to feed on the grass in the area.
This abandoned whaling station was in full operation the day that Ernest Shackleton and his companions staggered in after a 36-hour trek across the island. There is a small cemetery here, with the graves of 14 whalers.