Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula 21 daysAboard: MV Plancius
This trip is the ultimate in the Antarctic region, taking in the Falkland Islands with their varied and accessible wildlife and friendly inhabitants as well as South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula. South Georgia is the jewel of the South Atlantic with spectacular breeding colonies of king penguins and albatross along with many more species of birds and mammals, all in a magnificent setting. The Antarctic peninsula provides the opportunity to not only view unique wildlife close-up but also set foot on one of the last great wildernesses on earth.
- Falkland Islands wildlife and scenery
- South Georgia wildlife, scenery and history
- Magnificent Antarctic ice and landscapes
- Myriad birdlife
- Whales and other marine mammals
- Full board accommodation on board
- Luggage transfer to ship and group transfer from ship
- All zodiac excursions and landings with expert guides
- Programme of expert lectures
- Loan of rubber boots
So much to experience
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In the afternoon, we embark in Puerto Madryn and sail towards the Falkland Islands. Golfo Nuevo is world renowned for their visiting Southern Right whales and we have a good chance to see them as we head towards Open Ocean.
The ship is followed by several species of albatrosses, storm petrels, shearwaters and diving petrels.
We spend this day in the Western parts of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas). If the weather conditions allow, we hope to land on the rarely visited Steeple Jason Island in the early morning. Here we find the largest Black-browed albatross colony in the world (app. 113.000). As an alternative, we would take a walk along the Coast of Carcass Island. Here we may encounter breeding Magellanic and Gentoo penguins, and also numerous waders and passerine birds are present. On Saunders Island, we can see the majestic Black-browed albatross and their sometimes-clumsy landings near their nesting site along with breeding Imperial shags and Rock hopper penguins. King penguins, Magellanic penguins, and Gentoo penguins are also present here.
Stanley, Falkland Islands
In Stanley, the capital of the Falklands, we can experience Falkland culture, which has some South American characteristics as well as English charm. In Stanley and the surrounding area we can see a number of stranded wrecks from a century ago and geese, giant petrels and other birds.. All passengers are free to wander around on their own. We recommend a visit to the local museum (admission fees not included) and perhaps a drink in a typical pub.
On our way to South Georgia we will cross the Antarctic Convergence. Entering Antarctic waters, the temperature will drop by as much as 10 degrees in the time span of only a few hours. Near the Convergence, we will see a multitude of southern seabirds near the ship; several species of albatross, shearwaters, petrels, prions and skuas.
In the early afternoon of day 8 we arrive at our first activity site in South Georgia. Weather conditions on South Georgia can be challenging and will largely dictate the program. Sites that may be visited include Prion Island (the island is closed for visitors during the early part of the breeding season from 20 Nov – 07 January), where the previous summer’s fully-grown chicks of the huge Wandering Albatross are almost ready to fledge and adults are returning to seek their old partner after a year and a half at sea.
Salisbury Plain, St Andrews Bay and Gold Harbour do not only house the three largest King penguin colonies in South Georgia but are also three of the largest breeding beaches for Southern Elephant seals in the world. At this time of the year they peak in their breeding cycle. Watch the incredible spectacle of large 4-ton bulls who have to keep a constant vigil and occasionally fight over territories of dozens of females who have just given birth or are just about to deliver. The beaches are packed with Elephant seals!
In Fortuna Bay penguins and seals inhabit the beaches. We may follow the final section of Shackleton’s route to Stromness, the abandoned whaling village. The route leads us across the mountain pass past the “Shackleton Waterfall”. The terrain is partly swampy and some small streams may have to be crossed along the way. At Grytviken, we will also see an abandoned whaling station, where King penguins now walk in the streets and Elephant seals have taken residency. Here we will also offer a visit to the Whaling History Museum as well as to Shackleton’s grave nearby.
The ship is again followed by a multitude of seabirds. At some point we might encounter sea-ice, and it is at the ice-edge where we would have a chance to see some high-Antarctic species like the McCormick skua and snow petrel.
South Orkney Islands
Weather and ice depending we hope to visit Orcadas station, an Argentinean base located on Laurie Island in the South Orkney Island archipelago. The friendly base personnel will show us their facilities and we can enjoy the wonderful views of the surrounding glaciers. Alternatively, we may attempt a landing in Shingle Cove on Signy Island.
Spend time on deck watching for whales, swimming penguins and various seabirds and participate in the programme of expert lectures. We will pass large icebergs and have a good chance of Fin whales on the way south. In addition, we have the best chances on the trip to see Antarctic petrels around the ship.
If the ice permits us, we will sail into the Weddell Sea. Huge tabular icebergs will announce our arrival to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. We hope to visit Paulet Island with a huge number of Adélie penguins and Brown Bluff located in the ice clogged Antarctic Sound, where we may set foot on the Continent. If sea ice conditions are not favourable to enter the Weddell Sea from the east, we set course for Elephant Island and head into the Bransfield Strait between South Shetland Island and the Antarctic Peninsula and attempt to gain access to the Antarctic Sound from the northwest.
The volcanic islands of the South Shetlands are windswept and often shrouded in mist, but do offer subtle pleasures. There is a nice variety of flora (mosses, lichens and flowering grasses) and fauna such as Gentoo Penguins, Chinstrap Penguins and Southern Giant Petrels. On Half Moon Island we will find Chinstrap Penguins and Weddell Seals which often haul out on the beach near the Argentinean station Camara.
On Deception Island our ship braves through the spectacular Neptune’s Bellows and into the flooded caldera. Here we find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, thousands of Cape Petrels and many Kelp Gulls, Brown and South Polar Skuas and Antarctic Terns. Wilson’s Storm Petrels and Black-bellied Storm Petrels nest in the ruins of the whaling station in Whalers Bay. Alternatively, we will offer activities near Telefon Bay further inside the flooded caldera. The 20 night’s voyage opens the opportunity to sail further down the western Antarctic Peninsula.
In Neko Harbour or Paradise Bay we hope to set foot on the Antarctic Continent in a magnificent landscape of huge glaciers calving at sea level. We enjoy the landscape surrounded by alpine peaks. In this area, we have good chances to see Humpback Whales and Minke Whales. After sailing through the Neumayer Channel, we hope to get a chance to visit the old British research station, now living museum and post office at Port Lockroy on Goudier Island. Close to Port Lockroy we may also offer activities around Jougla Point with Gentoo Penguins and Blue-eyed Shags.
If ice conditions allow we may opt to venture as far south as the Lemaire Channel to explore opportunities for activities. In the early hours of our last landing day we hope to conduct our activities at Cuverville Island with the several thousand Gentoo penguins in the largest Gentoo rookery of the Antarctic Peninsula. We depart to the Drake Passage around noon of day 18 through the Melchior Islands.
On our way north we are again followed by a great selection of seabirds while crossing the Drake Passage.
We arrive in the morning in Ushuaia and disembark.
A view from Above
Plancius was built as a Dutch oceanographic research vessel and refurbished as a passenger ship in 2009. It has ice strengthened bow and stern and is ideal for polar sailing. There is a mixture of suites and cabins, all with window or porthole. Some have private facilities and some shared. There are twin, triple and quadruple cabins suitable for sharing. Public areas are a spacious observation lounge and bar, library, lecture theatre and dining room along with plenty of outside deck space and an open-bridge policy. Rubber boots are supplied for all passengers.
we work hard to earn passionate reviews from our clients.
Now that I am back from my odyssey voyage, I thought I would let you know that after all that planning it really did exceed my expectations – we managed landings everywhere even on Tristan da Cuhna and had great bird sightings. The guides all knew what they were talking about too and made sure I got some great photos – still sorting them all out! Thanks for everything and see you at Birdfair!Dave Martin
I want to thank you for all you did to make my recent Falklands trip run so smoothly and comfortably. Thank you for all your help over the diet too.Dr Lorna Mairs
Just a quick note to express my sincere thanks to you and all your staff for making this an epic adventure of immense proportions. Everything went smoothly, pickups, hotels and most of all the expedition itself. Truly a mind blowing experience unlike any I have ever taken.Mr J Borg, Malta
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