Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctic Circle 23 daysAboard: M/V Hondius
This fantastic extended 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. This extended voyage also visits Elephant Island and offers us a great chance of crossing the Antarctic Circle!
- Falkland Islands wildlife and scenery
- South Georgia wildlife, scenery and history
- Magnificent Antarctic ice and landscapes
- Follow in the footsteps of Shackleton
- See at least 6 different species of penguin
- Cross the Antarctic Circle!
- Myriad birdlife
- Whales and other marine mammals
- Fantastic interactive learning and discovery programme
- Polar diving option available
- Luggage transfer to ship and group transfer from ship
- Full board accommodation on board
- All zodiac excursions and landings with expert guides
- Programme of expert lectures and interactive workshops
- Loan of rubber boots
So much to experience
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Your fantastic Antarctica, Falklands and South Georgia expedition will begin in Ushuaia, Argentina, where after having arrived independently you will embark your ship in the afternoon. As you settle in to your cabin, your ship will sail through the scenic waterway of the Beagle Channel and turn northwards towards the Falklands. You may want to spend some time on deck capturing the sight of the city fading into distance behind you and looking out for the seabirds that follow the ship.
As we make the short sea crossing towards the Falkland Islands your programme of informative and entertaining lectures and presentations will begin, covering everything from the geology and wildlife you are about to discover to the history of Antarctic exploration. There will also be safety and bio-environmental briefings in preparation for your time in the Falklands. We recommend spending some time on deck to spot the several species of albatross which will likely be following the ship along with storm petrels, shearwaters, and diving petrels.
As we arrive in the Falkland Islands, we plan to spend the day on the fascinating western side of the archipelago. The exceptionally scenic Falklands offer an abundance of wildlife and have an intriguing history. Our first adventure will be a hike along the shore of Carcass Island which will give us views of magellanic and gentoo penguins, as well as close encounters with elephant seals, water fowl, night herons and passerines. Later we will visit Saunders Island to to observe four species of breeding penguins - gentoo, king, Magellanic and rockhopper,as well as black-browed albatross and king cormorants.
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 one of the charming pubs.
As we sail from the Falklands towards South Georgia we will cross the Antarctic Convergence and the temperatures will become considerably cooler. As we spend these 2 days at sea there will be excellent opportunities for bird spotting on deck with likely sightings of several species of albatross, shearwaters, petrels, prions, and skuas. The informative and entertaining lecture programme will also continue as well as briefings for your time on South Georgia.
On day 7 we will arrive in the wildlife paradise of South Georgia, a remote and exceptionally scenic island that is home to millions of penguins and other birdlife and wildlife. Over the next few days we will explore the eastern coast of the island searching for wildlife, scenic opportunities and visiting sites of historical interest. Places we expect to visit include Prion Island which is closed to visitors during the early part of the wandering albatross breeding season (November 20 – January 7). As we will be in the area in early March the breeding adults will have found their partners and are sitting on eggs or nursing their chicks. We will be able to witness the gentle nature of these animals, which possess the largest wingspan of any birds in the world.
We will also visit Fortuna Bay where a hive of wildlife activity will greet us on the beaches. You will see various penguins and seals as well as having the chance to follow the final leg of Shackleton’s route to the abandoned whaling village of Stromness.
Later we will visit the areas of Salisbury Plain, St. Andrews Bay and Gold Harbour to see the three largest king penguin colonies in South Georgia. These areas are also home to three of the world’s largest breeding beaches for southern elephant seals, and you may also see a substantial number of Antarctic fur seals here during the breeding season (December – January).
During our time here we will also have chance to visit the abandoned whaling station of Grytkiven where king penguins walk the streets and elephant seals are in abundance. We hope to have chance to see the South Georgia Museum as well as visiting Shackleton’s grave to pay our respects at the final resting place of one of Antarctica’s most well-known explorers.
As we leave South Georgia behind and sail south towards Antarctica your ship will again be followed by a multitude of seabirds so make sure to spend some time on deck for excellent photo opportunities. On our sail we may encounter some 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. Onboard briefings will be held to prepare you for your time on the Antarctic continent and your programme of lectures and talks will continue.
South Orkney Islands
Before reaching the Peninsula we may stop, ice conditions dependent, on Laurie Island in the South Orkney archipelago to visit Orcadas Base, an Argentine scientific station. The personnel here will happily show you their facility, where you can enjoy expansive views of the surrounding glaciers. If a visit isn’t possible, we may instead land in Signy Island’s Shingle Cove.
An area of significant historical interest, fabled Elephant Island is the site of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s well-known rescue mission in 1916. By now we will have travelled the same route (albeit in the opposite direction) as Shackleton did using only a small lifeboat, and as we witness Elephant Island appear on the horizon after crossing all that water, it’s hard not to marvel at how he and his five-man crew accomplished that feat.
Elephant Island has notoriously severe conditions and the coastline is mostly made up of vertical rock and ice cliffs highly exposed to the elements. Despite the harsh conditions we will make every effort to take a Zodiac cruise to Point Wild to visit the spot where the marooned members of Shackleton’s expedition miraculously managed to survive over winter.
Welcome to Antarctica, a land of superlatives! Enchanting scenery, unique wildlife encounters and thrilling adventures await as we spend our days exploring by Zodiac and on foot to get up close to the action. Your exact itinerary here will be determined by weather and ice conditions with your captain choosing each day which areas to visit for optimum experiences.
Firstly we plan to sail into the Antarctic Sound at the northwestern edge of the Weddell Sea where colossal tabular icebergs herald your arrival to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. Our first landing possibility is Brown Bluff in the ice-clogged Antarctic Sound which may offer our first chance to step foot on the Antarctic Continent itself.
South Shetland Islands
After an exploration of the Sound we will head towards the often windswept and mist-shrouded South Shetland Islands to discover its wide variety of flora (mosses, lichens, flowering grasses) and fauna (gentoo penguins, chinstrap penguins, southern giant petrels). We plan to sail through the spectacular Neptune’s Bellows and into the flooded caldera of Deception Island where we will make land to find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, and thousands of cape petrels. An excellent area for birding, we are likely to see a number of kelp gulls, brown skuas, south polar skuas, and Antarctic terns as well as Wilson’s storm petrels and black-bellied storm petrels. There are also great opportunities for hiking across this fascinating and desolate volcanic landscape.
Antarctic Peninsula & Circle
We will then sail along the Peninsula where there will be opportunities for great landings in an epic landscape of alpine peaks and mammoth glaciers calving at sea level. Gentoo penguins, leopard seals, Weddell seals, humpback whales, and minke whales are often seen here. We continue to sail through the breathtaking scenery of the southern Gerlache Strait stopping to explore at select points along the Peninsula.
On the Peninsula itself there are numerous areas we may visit and there will be ample opportunities for Zodiac excursions, optional polar diving, and of course stepping foot on the white continent. Sites we may visit include Neko Harbour where we may have the opportunity to set foot on the Antarctic Continent in a magnificent landscape of huge glaciers calving at sea level. Zodiac cruising offers a spectacular way of enjoying the landscape surrounded by ice encrusted alpine peaks.
In Paradise Bay with its myriad icebergs we may again have the opportunity to set foot on the Antarctic Continent. Again, we may offer an opportunity for a zodiac cruise in the inner parts of this amazing waterway. In this area, we have good chances to see Humpback whales and Minke whales. If the ice conditions allow, we will sail through the spectacular Lemaire Channel to the Pléneau and Petermann Islands where we are likely to find Adélie penguins and Blue-eyed shags, Humpback and Minke whales, and Leopard seals.
The aim is to push further south where we will sail along the Argentine Islands to the ice-packed Crystal Sound and from here we will cross the Polar Circle, a significant achievement that will be celebrated with delight! We may make a landing at an abandoned British research station on Detaille Island before turning back northwards into the area around Lemaire Channel and the Gerlache Strait.
As our exhilarating expedition comes to end it’s time to head back north through the Drake Passage where again the ship will be followed by a vast array of seabirds. Enjoy the last presentations from your team of noted naturalists and take the time to dissolve all of the unforgettable memories you will have made on your once in a lifetime expediton.
As we sail back through the scenic Beagle Channel and arrive in Ushuaia in the early morning it’s sadly time to say goodbye to your crew and fellow shipmates. After breakfast you will disembark and a group transfer will be provided to the airport for onward or homeward journeys.
A view from Above
A brand-new (2019) deluxe vessel that has been built to the very highest Polar Class for ice-strengthened vessels. The first civilian vessel in the world to receive a Polar Class 6 notation and designed to fully comply with the mandatory requirements of the Polar code, the M/V Hondius leads the way for both safe ship operation and protection of the Polar environment.
Providing deluxe accommodation for up to 170 passengers, the M/V Hondius offers one of the highest comfort experiences of all vessels which operate in the Polar Regions. The accommodation onboard is provided in numerous suites of varying sizes, from the Hondius Suite to quadruple porthole cabins, with all cabins having either a balcony, large windows or portholes. Each cabin has been custom-designed and impeccably outfitted in a stylish décor.
The M/V Hondius has been designed to offer a deluxe feel whilst still maintaining a sense of cosy camaraderie, with welcoming communal, observation and dining areas. An entire deck has been dedicated to space for lectures and presentations, and every element of the vessel has been thoroughly thought-out to provide the very best passenger experience.
The vessel features a sheltered Zodiac boarding zone making joining and returning from land-based excursions fast and easy, and has been built to exceed the latest Green requirements imposed by the International Maritime Organisation to ensure that your trip causes as little impact as possible on the areas you will visit.
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
Overall I think that it was an excellent trip that was well worth the price paid and I would have no hesitation recommending your company to others.Steve Sutton
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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