Few places compare to South Georgia in terms of exotic wildlife and jaw dropping scenery, and the Falklands are no different. On this exploratory voyage you can enjoy both.
Touring the world’s largest black-browed albatross colony while also seeing some of the biggest breeding spots for king penguins and elephant seals on Earth – along with day after day of amazing polar scenery. Contact Becky for more information. Becky’s Antartica photos are available here.
- 1 Hotel stay the night before the ship leaves. It is important to get there early in case luggage gets delayed.
- Accommodations aboard OceanWide Expeditions ship m/v Hondius
- All Meals aboard the ship
- 2 Dives per day (H valve steel tanks and weights) Special trip for divers
- Photography, historical, ecological, and scientific presentations
- All transfers to and from ship
- Expedition Jacket
- Travel and DAN Dive insurance required
- Tips on the boat, alcohol, fuel surcharges if they apply at the time
- Alcohol on board and any other beverages
Day 1: Sandy Argentine beaches
You embark from Puerto Madryn in the afternoon, your prow aimed for the Falkland Islands. Golfo Nuevo is renowned for its visiting southern right whales, so you have a good chance of spotting one as you sail toward the open ocean.
Day 2 – 3: Sea life, sea birds
Though you’re now at sea, there’s rarely a lonesome moment here. Several species of bird follow the vessel southeast, such as albatrosses, storm petrels, shearwaters, and diving petrels.
Day 4 – 5: Finding the Falklands
The Falkland Islands offer an abundance of wildlife that is easily approachable, though caution is always advised. These islands are largely unknown gems with a wealth of bird life, including many endemic species. The waters of the Falklands are also rich with sea life, including southern sea lions and elephant
seals. There is a good chance to see both Peale’s dolphins and Commerson’s dolphins.
During this segment of the voyage, we aim to visit the following two sites:
Steeple Jason – Home to the world’s largest black-browed albatross colony (roughly 113,000), Steeple Jason is a wild and rarely visited island buffeted by wind and waves. Weather and swell conditions dictate the journey here.
Carcass Island – Despite its name, this island is pleasantly rodent-free and hence bounteous with birdlife and many endemic species. Anything from breeding Magellanic penguins and gentoos to numerous waders and passerine birds (including Cobb’s wrens and tussock-birds) live here.
Other sites that we may offer as an alternative:
Saunders Island – 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.
West Point Island – Landing in a small cove near the island’s house, you will be able to walk through the tussac grass and an abundant breeding colony of black-browed albatrosses, where they live side by side with rockhopper penguins.
Grave Cove – Nesting gentoo penguins and excellent hiking opportunities abound here, with the chance to enjoy great scenery and wildlife.
Day 6 – 7: Once more to the sea
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.
Day 8: Shag Rocks
Today we reach the Shag Rocks, a group of six islands surrounded by nutrientrich waters that offer great feeding grounds for numerous birds and whales. The islands are named after the South Georgian shag, known for its bright blue eyes and yellow beak patch.
Day 9 – 13: South Georgia journey
In our tour of South Georgia’s breathtaking wildlife and scenery, we may visit the following sites. Please keep in mind that weather conditions in this area can be challenging, largely dictating the program.
Sites you might visit include:
Prion Island – The home of the great wandering albatrosses. The previous summer’s wandering albatross chicks are almost ready to fledge, and adults are seeking out their old partners after a year and a half at sea.
Salisbury Plain, St. Andrews Bay, Gold Harbour – These sites not only house the three largest king penguin colonies in South Georgia, they’re also three of the world’s largest breeding beaches for southern elephant seals. Only during this time of year do they peak in their breeding cycle. Watch the four-ton bulls keep a constant vigil (and occasionally fight) over territories where dozens of females have just given birth or are about to deliver. You can also see a substantial number of Antarctic fur seals here during the breeding season
(December – January).
Fortuna Bay – This beautiful outwash plain from Fortuna Glacier is home to a large number of king penguins and seals. You may have the chance to follow the final leg of Shackleton’s route to the abandoned whaling village of Stromness. This path cuts across the mountain pass beyond Shackleton’s Waterfall, and as the terrain is partly swampy, be prepared to cross a few small streams.
Leith Harbour, Stromness, Husvik – These sites remind us of the scale of the whaling industry in the early 20th century. Elephant and fur seals breed and moult here. Gentoo penguins also occupy the landing sites. Antarctic prions and South Georgia dive petrels may be observed, especially in the area of Husvik.
Grytviken – In this abandoned whaling station, king penguins walk the streets and elephant seals lie around like they own the place – because they basically do. Here you might be able to see the South Georgia Museum as well as Shackleton’s grave.
Cobblers Cove, Godthul – Here we will try to visit Rookery Point to see macaroni penguins. We might also encounter giant petrels, gentoo penguins, seals, and light-mantled sooty albatrosses nesting along the coastline. Godthul (Norwegian for “good cove”) was named by Norwegian whalers and seal hunters.
Royal Bay (Moltke Harbour, Will Point, & Brisbane Point) – Moltke Harbour in Royal Bay was named by the German International Polar Year Expedition in 1882, and some of the remains of their dwellings are still visible. The scenery of Royal Bay is amazing, with dark sandy beaches, green tussocks, and of course, the great Ross Glacier. It may be windy here, but the Zodiac cruising is spectacular. Roughly 30,000 pairs of king penguins also live in this area.
Cooper Bay – A Zodiac cruise in Cooper Bay offers a good chance to see macaroni penguins, gentoo penguins, and one of the world’s largest chinstrap penguin rookeries. Fur and elephant seals may be seen on the beach, while we might also spot light-mantled sooty albatrosses gliding overhead. Antarctic terns, white-chinned petrels, and blue-eyed shags are possible here too.
Drygalski Fjord – This narrow waterway offers spectacular landscapes, specifically high mountain peaks at a very close distance.
Annenkov Island – Passing Pickersgill Islands, we reach the rarely visited Annenkov Island, first discovered by James Cook in 1775 and later renamed by the Russian expedition of Fabian von Bellingshausen in 1819. This is a rocky terrain with a variety of ridges, peaks, and hills where fossils have been found.
King Haakon Bay – Few Antarctic locations are more steeped in expedition history than this one. British explorer Ernest Shackleton reached King Haakon Bay during his arduous open boat voyage from Elephant Island, where his crew was stranded after sea ice crushed their ship. Elephant seals dominate these rugged beaches, and birdwatchers should keep a lookout for South Georgia pipits, Antarctic prions, common diving petrels, and blue petrels.
Day 14 – 17: Westward bound
South polar skuas and snow petrels could join the albatrosses trailing our vessel during these sea days, and we may also encounter sea ice. When we reach the Drake Passage, you will be again greeted by the vast array of seabirds remembered from the passage south.
Day 18: Earth’s southernmost city
You arrive and disembark in Ushuaia, commonly held to be the world’s most southern city. It is located on the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, nicknamed the “End of the World.” But despite this stopping point, the wealth of memories you’ve made on your Antarctic expedition will travel with you wherever your next adventure lies.