After breakfast at the hotel, the group will transfer to the airport and board our private charter flight to Ushuaia, Argentina. Upon arrival, you will have a little time to explore this quaint port town before heading to the pier.
Embarkation will occur in the late afternoon, after which your vessel will sail down the historic Beagle Channel. This famous channel transects the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in the extreme south of South America. Expect an air of anticipation as you depart—the next time you see land you’ll be in the world’s most southern continent!
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 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 (Malvinas) 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 have the most memorable time.
Evidence of the old whaling and sealing heydays is still found throughout the island. You’ll be surprised to learn that 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. Visiting 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 have 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 that you and your shipmates will likely find 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 100 thousand pairs of king penguins waddling on the beach. The next day we may visit 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.
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, 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 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 on a Zodiac. Each day and each landing will present a new collection of creatures to entertain you and keep your camera busy.
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 visited by very few people. This is raw Antarctica, home to the midnight sun, with the potential for 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. You will continue to journey onto land by Zodiac twice daily as you travel north along the western Antarctic Peninsula.
Your Expedition Team will always be on the lookout for species of penguins, seals and whales that may have eluded you on the journey south.