Falklands and South Georgia
Oct 20 - Nov 07, 2017 (19 days)
Oct 21 - Nov 08, 2018 (19 days)
The islands of the Southern Ocean, like solitary gemstones, reflect a dazzling abundance of life usually hidden from our view.
We start this extraordinary expedition in Puerto Madryn near the fabulous Península Valdés in Argentine Patagonia. First, in the Falkland Islands, we discover a stark and beautiful archipelago where abundant penguins and albatross nest side by side. We sail forth through legendary waters where marine mammals lurk in astonishing numbers.
On the island of South Georgia, amidst dramatic Southern Ocean seascapes, we explore a pristine wilderness swarming with stately king penguins, raucous fur seals, jousting elephant seals, and a profusion of seabirds. We finish in Ushuaia, in Argentina’s gorgeous Tierra del Fuego: gateway to Antarctica.
The windswept and treeless Falkland Islands are a birders’ paradise. The archipelago boasts a great diversity and abundance of birdlife including 80 percent of the world’s population of black-browed albatross, five species of penguin, and a variety of waterfowl such as the endemic Falkland steamer duck.
In addition to innumerable penguin pairs, South Georgia hosts a wide range of bird species in staggering abundance. The island is home to petrels, skuas, prions, shags, terns, and the carnivorous South Georgia pintail duck. This is also an amazing place to see the breeding behavior of the world’s largest seabird: the wandering albatross.
MARINE MAMMAL HAVEN
On the remote island of South Georgia, marine mammals are counted in the millions. Antarctic fur seals and southern elephant seals can be seen everywhere jostling for space on the island’s legendary wildlife beaches. This voyage coincides with the season when elephant seals are likely to be seen engaging in ferocious battles.
In the Falkland Islands, breeding populations of South American fur seal and South American sea lion frequent the islands’ many beaches. The waters all along our route are home to various cetaceans including southern right whales, killer whales, and Peale’s dolphins, as well as various large baleen whales no longer hunted.
LIFE OF THE EDGE
In the harsh and unrelenting subantarctic environment of the Falklands and South Georgia—and on the tempestuous waves of the Southern Ocean—the endurance of settlers and explorers has been repeatedly tested. Historical events such as the Falklands War have also tested the inhabitants’ resolve and resourcefulness.
Day 1 – Puerto Madryn, Argentina
Welcome to Puerto Madryn in Argentine Patagonia, starting point of our expedition. Upon your arrival at the airport we provide a transfer to your hotel, which has been arranged by us and is included in the price of the voyage. For the rest of the day you are free to explore this welcoming seaside city. Take advantage of sandy beaches and the restaurant-lined promenade on Golfo Nuevo with views of wild Península Valdés.
Day 2 – Embarkation in Puerto Madryn
In the afternoon we provide a group transfer to the pier and welcome you aboard the luxury expedition ship M/V Sea Spirit. Explore the ship and get comfortable in your home away from home for the extraordinary adventure to come. Savor the anticipation of your dreams coming true as we slip our moorings and sail toward a true wilderness where wildlife abounds. As we sail through Golfo Nuevo on our first evening we have our first chance to see whales, particularly southern right whales.
Days 3 & 4 – South Atlantic Ocean
From Golfo Nuevo we sail south through the South Atlantic Ocean toward the Falkland Islands. We keep a lookout for dolphins and whales. Presentations and workshops by our expert staff, as well as our range of onboard recreation facilities, ensure that these days at sea are not idly spent. The ship’s stabilizing fins provide comfort in the event of rough seas.
Day 5 – Falkland Islands
The remote and sparsely-populated Falkland Islands are a birders’ paradise. We anticipate visiting some of the isolated outer islands where large colonies of penguins and albatross are easily accessible. The Falklands are also a great place to observe marine mammals. Fur seals and elephant seals can be found on sandy beaches while the waters in and around the archipelago are home to various whale and dolphin species.
Days 6 & 7 – Southern Ocean
From the Falkland Islands we head east toward South Georgia, passing the remote, seabird-covered pinnacles known as Shag Rocks on the way. We also cross the Antarctic Convergence, the biological boundary of the Southern Ocean. Briefings, bio-security procedures, and lectures from our staff prepare you for our arrival in South Georgia.
Days 8 to 13 – South Georgia
This is expedition cruising at its most authentic. Our route and exploration opportunities in South Georgia are heavily dependent on the weather conditions we encounter. Our experienced captain and expedition leader decide the itinerary and continually adjust plans as conditions and opportunities warrant. You can be sure that the best possible advantage will be taken of the circumstances presented to us by nature in this wild and remote corner of the world. We take every safe opportunity to go ashore in this amazing place.
South Georgia is a scenic wilderness and an unrivaled paradise for sub Antarctic wildlife viewing. The islands are said to host upwards of 100 million seabirds, including numerous species of albatross, penguins, prions, petrels, and terns. On beaches such as those at Salisbury Plain and St. Andrews Bay, over 100,000 elephant seals and three million fur seals jostle for space among innumerable penguins including stately king penguins and sprightly macaroni penguins. The recently completed rat eradication program is sure to make this wilderness even more pristine and rich with birdlife.
The bountiful waters surrounding South Georgia are also inhabited by an increasing number of whales. The historical whaling station of Grytviken is now home to the excellent South Georgia Museum managed by the South Georgia Heritage Trust. This is also the final resting place of Ernest Shackleton, the legendary polar explorer.
Our days in South Georgia are filled with memorable excursions, sumptuous meals, presentations by our experts, and enough incredible scenery and wildlife to fill your camera and overwhelm your emotions.
Days 14 & 15 – Southern Ocean
After our amazing time in South Georgia we proceed west back toward the Falkland Islands. Pelagic seabirds including the majestic albatross are common in these waters and can readily be viewed from panoramic open decks or from exterior stateroom windows and balconies.
Days 16 & 17 – Falkland Islands
Our route and exploration opportunities are dependent on weather among these windswept islands.Stanley is the charmingly British capital of the Falkland Islands. Attractions within pleasant walking distance along the waterfront promenade include the Falkland Islands Museum, the governor’s house, a cathedral with impressive whalebone arch outside, a war memorial, quality gift shops, pubs, and views of shipwrecks in the harbor.
Day 18 – Beagle Channel
From the Falkland Islands we sail southwest toward the tip of South America and enter the Beagle Channel. This is the time for our End of Voyage ceremonies including slideshow and farewell dinner.
Day 19 – Disembarkation in Ushuaia, Argentina
After breakfast we say farewell in the city of Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. We provide a group transfer to the airport or to the town center if you wish to spend more time here. In this case, the nearby Tierra del Fuego National Park is definitely worth a visit.