In Shackletons Footsteps

Trip to Falkland/Malvinas, South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula, with a flight from Falkland/Malvinas to Punta Arenas (or Santiago de Chile)


Falkland/Malvinas, South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula
© Sebastian Arrebola

This is a trip to Falkland/Malvinas, South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula, where you will have the change to see potentially 6 species of penguins.

Duration: 17 nights
Embarkation: Ushuaia
Disembarkation: Santiago Chile (or Punta Arenas)
Language: English speaking voyage

Itinerary

Please refer to this itinerary as a guide only as changes may occur due to unpredictable sea and weather conditions.

Day 1 – Embark Ushuaia
We strongly advise that you arrive into Ushuaia at least one day prior to your expedition departure date

This morning, your luggage will be collected from your hotel and transferred directly to port for clearance and loading onto the ship. You’ll have the day at leisure before making your own way to port in the late afternoon to meet your expedition team and commence boarding at 16:00

Transfer of your luggage from your Ushuaia hotel to the ship is included. Detailed instructions will be available in your final documentation.

Days 2 to 3 - Drake Passage
As we commence our Drake Passage crossing, we make the most of our time getting comfortable with the motions of the sea. Our expedition team prepare you for our first landing with important wildlife guidelines and biosecurity procedures, and start our lecture program to help you learn more about Antarctica’s history, wildlife, and environment.

Our wildlife experiences begin as we enjoy watching and photographing the many seabirds including majestic albatrosses and giant petrels following in our wake. They rise and fall skilfully, using air currents created by the ship to gain momentum.

Days 4-7 Eastern Antarctic Peninsula & Weddell Sea
A peek out of the porthole very early this morning should confirm that we have reached Antarctica. Depending on the weather, we will first approach Antarctica to the north of King George Island or in narrow channels between the South Shetland Islands. From there we will head through the Antarctic Sound to the eastern side of the Peninsula to reach the Weddell Sea.

Access into the Weddell is heavily dependent on ice conditions, and our experienced leader will use their expertise to design our voyage from day to day. We aim to make landings or Zodiac excursions two to three times a day. Days will be spent cruising along spectacular ice cliffs, following whales that are feeding near the surface, and landing on the continent and its off-shore islands to visit penguin rookies, seal haul outs, historic huts, and a few of our other favourite spots along the peninsula.

There are many exciting places we can choose to visit. A sample of some of the places where we may land, hike, photograph or view spectacular wildlife follows:

Brown Bluff
Situated on the eastern side of Tabarin Peninsula, the spectacular 745-metre promontory of Brown Bluff towers over some 20,000 nesting pairs of Adélie penguins and hundreds of Gentoo penguins. Nesting skuas, snow petrels and pintados inhabit the upper slopes and kelp gulls screech overhead. Brown Bluff's volcanic origins have created some fantastically shaped boulders that lie scattered across the ash beach and make colourful nesting sites for some of the penguins.

Paulet Island
This tiny volcanic island forms the nesting grounds of some 120,000 pairs of Adélie penguins, and the surrounding seas literally teem with penguins. There is also a blue-eyed shag colony situated at one end of Paulet's long beach front. Leopard seals are often seen cruising offshore, in search of their next meal. Weddell seals sometimes haul out here for a quiet nap on the beach. Apart from its plentiful wildlife, Paulet is also rich in the history of Antarctic exploration, for it was here that the 22 men of Larsen's ship Antarctic arrived on 28 February, 1903 after their ship had sunk. The men wintered on Paulet, living on penguins and seals, until eventually Larsen and five of the men rowed across Erebus and Terror Gulf to be reunited with members of Otto Nordenskjold's geological exploration party.

James Clark Ross Island
Separated from Trinity Peninsula by Prince Gustav Channel, the beaches and rocks of this mighty island are a mix of volcanic and sedimentary; creating a geologists’ paradise. The beaches are populated with kelp gulls while Antarctic terns and skuas nest on the island's higher slopes. Many of the island's rocks are decorated with bright red and orange lichens, presenting fantastic photographic opportunities. Ice floes in the surrounding waters provide temporary floating homes for Weddell and Leopard Seals. We may walk up to Hidden Lake, following a stream rich in fossilised remains of deciduous trees, ferns, and even clamshells. If ice conditions and time permit, we may also circumnavigate this fantastic island; a rarely-accomplished feat.

Devil Island
This very rarely-visited island was named for its two striking peaks or 'horns'. It is the nesting site for some 10,000 pairs of Adelie penguins. If weather conditions permit, we may walk up a scree slope to the top of the island's western peak. A few hundred metres in height, the summit provides superb views into Erebus and Terror Gulf. On the upper slopes, you may even see nesting snow petrels and Wilson's Storm Petrels. For those who are less active, the continuous commute of penguins on the beach and the accompanying skua population provide endless fascination. We may also cruise in our zodiacs amongst the large numbers of icebergs that are often grounded offshore.

View Point, Duse Bay
View Point is one of the few places where we may be able to set foot on the Antarctic continent proper. A British hut was built here in 1953 and an Argentine refuge hut was established a few years later. In front of the old hut are the remains of crabeater seal carcasses, which provided food for the sledge dogs. Thanks to the cold conditions, the well-preserved hut looks just as it did all those years ago – a fascinating place to get a feeling for the olden days of Antarctic exploration.

Other places we may visit around the Weddell Sea area and on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula are:

Joinville Island
D'Urville Island
Hope Bay
Seymour Island
Vega Island, Prince Gustav Channel
Beak Island
Crystal Hill
Herbert Sound
Please note: If weather and ice conditions prevent us from accessing the eastern side of the Peninsula and the Weddell Sea, your Expedition Leader may choose to make landings on the Western side of the Peninsula instead. You Expedition Leader will communicate this to you during your voyage.

Day 8 Elephant Island
Today, if weather permits, we set course for Elephant Island, a half-submerged mountain cloaked with an ice sheet at the outer limits of the South Shetlands. We’ll learn the story of Shackleton and hear how his ship, the Endurance, was crushed in pack ice in the Weddell Sea, before him and his men climbed into three open boats, spending 16 months at sea, before finally making landfall on this tiny toe of rock and ice in the vastness of the Southern Ocean on 14 April, 1916.

We plan to sail past Cape Valentine to see the beach where the men first put ashore over 100 years ago. Weather permitting; we hope to follow the coastline six miles west to Point Wild, where the men eventually set up camp under two of their upturned open boats and some old tents. If weather permits, we’ll attempt to make at least one landing on historic Elephant Island.

Days 9-10 Scotia Sea bound for South Georgia
En route for South Georgia we'll head across the Scotia Sea, following the route that Shackleton and five of his men took in order to find help for the rest of their crew. On 24 April, 1916, they piled into the James Caird, the most seaworthy of their open boats, to attempt this perilous journey to South Georgia, some 1290 km distant. Shackleton hoped to reach South Georgia in two weeks. There he would enlist the help of the whalers to return to Elephant Island and rescue the men who had been left behind.

As excitement builds for South Georgia, catch up with fellow expeditioners in the bar, keep watch for wildlife alongside our naturalist from the open bridge, or learn more of the Shackleton story from our historian.

Days 11-15 South Georgia
South Georgia is one of the world’s most amazing natural environments. Just a speck in the vastness of the South Atlantic Ocean, and lying wholly within the Antarctic Convergence, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are a life-sustaining haven to some of the world’s largest congregations of wildlife. The surrounding sea is one of the most productive areas on Earth and supports the life of millions of seals, whales, penguins and other seabirds.

A 3,000-metre mountain range forms the spine of this long, narrow island. Between the mountains, shattered glaciers carve their way through tussock grass to the deeply indented coastline – a landscape that is synonymous with the epic expedition of survival by Shackleton, Worsley, and Crean. Abandoned rusting whaling stations and remnants of explorers reflect a time of long ago, while summer workers conduct scientific and regeneration projects.

Politically speaking, South Georgia lies north of 60° South latitude and is therefore not part of the Antarctic treaty.

If conditions permit, we plan to follow in Shackleton, Worsley, and Crean’s footsteps and complete the final leg of their walk from Fortuna Bay to Stromness.On this expedition, we’ll make a special stop at King Haakon Bay to drop off our Mountaineers to start their 3-day crossing of South Georgia.

Some of the destinations we may visit in South Georgia are:

Grytviken
Originally a Norwegian sealing and whaling station, it was finally closed in 1965. Now it is the administrative centre and a hub of activity in South Georgia. The former whaling station stands as a solemn testament of the whaling days, but the museum offers much more than a whaling past. It has many of the local animals on display as well as the island’s history of exploration.

As we wander around the site, skirting the ruins of factory buildings, peering into the past, we must be careful to avoid sleeping elephant seals or disturbing small groups of king penguins as we imagine what it was like when whale processing was in full swing. Abandoned ships lie sunken alongside hundred-year-old wharves, while pitted concrete walls remind us of the more recent Falkland's War, which started here.

Sir Ernest Shackleton died from a heart attack during his final expedition on board the Quest on 6 May 1922. His body was laid to rest at Grytviken. We pay our respects at his grave and possibly visit the cross his men erected in his memory looking out across beautiful Cumberland Bay.

St Andrews Bay
The long black sandy beach fronts a broad valley that stretches well back from the sea. This valley shelters the largest king penguin colony on South Georgia. Toward the landing beach on the north end of the bay, the beach is a resting place for hundreds of elephant seals that haul out on the shore to moult. Behind the beach and as you move along to the south, the sight and sound (and smell) of over 200,000 pairs of King Penguins at different stages of their breeding cycle will be overwhelming.

Eventually the colony is so dense that the penguins prevent even the seals from using the beach! The glacial river that runs into the sea here will be alive with penguin chicks and elephant seal pups testing their skills. If we lift our gaze from the wildlife for a moment, we will glimpse the snow-capped peaks of some of the world's most spectacular mountains.

Godthul
Imagine indented bays lined with bleached whalebones, teeming with fur seals and penguins just ‘hanging about’. In Godthul you have the opportunity to clamber through the tussock to a spectacular plateau offering magnificent views across the island and the waters beyond. A careful descent leads us to a magnificent Macaroni penguin rookery.

Prion Island
Prion Island is one of the few places in the world where it is possible to visit wandering albatross sitting on their nest – and if we are lucky, witness the magnificent courting rituals of the younger birds forming life-long pairings. We must take great care with the albatross on the island and remain on a boardwalk. Despite these restrictions, the photographic opportunities are excellent. Prion Island is also one of the best places to find the unique endemic, the South Georgia Pipit.

Salisbury Plains
Salisbury Plain has one of the largest King Penguin colonies on South Georgia. With about 100,000 pairs, the shore and beach are simply covered with penguins. Along the beach you will also find Fur and Elephant seals in the mix. There is a tremendous scope for walking and exploring on your own during this landing, allowing you to enjoy some personal time amongst the kings.

Fortuna Bay & Stromness
Fortuna Bay is surrounded by high mountains with glaciers dropping out of the high country to terminate in the open valley that is home to a small king penguin colony. This is where Shackleton, Worsley, and Crean came down off the treacherous glaciers of the interior on their way to Stromness whaling station. If conditions allow, we can walk in the footsteps of Shackleton and follow their track over the last mountain pass. It’s a moderately difficult 6km walk over a 300-metre pass, and is well worth the experience for those that are fit and able. The Polar Pioneer will meet us as we stagger into Stromness Bay just as Shackleton and his men did 100 years ago.

Bay of Isles
One of the wildlife highlights will be visiting the serene wandering albatrosses sitting proudly on their cute downy chicks. We can sit within respectful metres of these gentle birds whilst they perform intimate courtship dances, feed their young or clumsily launch themselves into the air, bound for a fishing trip.

Other stunning wildlife destinations we may visit include:

Elsehul Bay
Royal Harbour
Cooper Bay
Drygalski Fjord
Larsen Harbour
Gold Harbour
Right Whale Bay
Possession Bay
King Haakon Bay
Moltke Harbour
Larsen Harbour
Shag Rocks

Days 16-17 Scotia Sea
Between South Georgia and the Falkland Islands, you will be entranced by the ceaseless flight of the many seabirds that follow our wake, skilfully using the air currents created by the ship to gain momentum. On this leg, we are usually travelling into the prevailing weather so it is difficult to estimate our arrival time in the Falklands. Our lecture program will continue and highlight all of the amazing sights we have witnessed over the past few days. We’ll have ample time to enjoy the rest of our time observing the sea birds, whale watching from the bridge, or simply relaxing in the bar with a book.

If time and weather conditions permit, we could pass close to Shag Rocks, a fascinating group of jagged rocky islets protruding from the sea.

Day 18 Flight Stanley, Falkland Islands/Malvinas to Santiago, Chile (or Punta Arenas, Chile)
Polar Pioneer will glide into Port Stanley for our early morning arrival. You have the choice of ending your voyage here and extend your journey in this very British outpost, or board this afternoon’s once-per-week scheduled flight to Santiago (or Punta Arenas). If you’re not extending journey in the Falkland Islands, you will be greeted by our local Falkland Islands guide this afternoon who will assist you with the transfer to Mount Pleasant airport for your flight to Santiago or Punta Arenas.

NOTE: If you wish to stay on in Stanley, flights operate once a week on a Saturday and are subject to availability and may involve an additional surcharge. If you wish to fly Stanley to Punta Arenas, please advise at time of booking that you would like to take this option.


Expedition Inclusions
-Luggage transfer from your Ushuaia hotel to ship on Day 1
-Town tour of Stanley in the Falkland Islands, time permitting (Day 18)
-Transfer from ship to airport in Falkland Islands/Malvinas (Day 18)
-One-way flight from Stanley, Falkland Islands/Malvinas to Santiago, Chile
-On-board accommodation during voyage including daily cabin service
-All meals, snacks, tea and coffee during voyage
-All shore excursions and Zodiac cruises
-Educational lectures and guiding services from expedition team
-Access to our onboard doctor and basic medical services
-A 2-in-1 waterproof polar expedition jacket
-Loan of gumboots during the voyage
-Comprehensive pre-departure information
-A printed photo book produced with photos from your voyage (one per booking)
-Port surcharges and landing fees


Expedition Exclusions
-International or domestic flights to or within South America, unless specified
-Transfers not mentioned in the itinerary
-Airport arrival or departure taxes
-Passport, visa, reciprocity fees and vaccination charges
-Travel insurance or emergency evacuation charges
-Hotels and meals not included in itinerary
-Optional excursions not included in the itinerary
-Optional activity surcharges
-All items of a personal nature including but not limited to: alcoholic beverages and soft drinks, laundry services, personal clothing, medical expenses, gratuities, and email or phone charges.




• The prices are per person expressed in US Dollars.

Gallery


© Sebastian Arrebola
© Sebastian Arrebola
© Sebastian Arrebola



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