South Georgia has been called ‘the most staggering wildlife show on earth’. After our in-depth exploration, we are certain you will agree. This seldom-visited corner of the planet is a place we know intimately and cherish sharing with our guests every season.
Our October departure is timed to coincide with the arrival of spring, as South Georgia emerges from the long and icy winter. This marks the beginning of the wildlife migration and breeding cycles for many species. The late January departure visits at the height of the polar summer. Days are long and the wildlife will be relaxed after the earlier breeding frenzy in spring.
Both voyages feature a shipboard photography symposium open to all guests. For lovers of remote, small-ship expedition cruising, this voyage ticks every box you could possibly imagine.
Length of Travel: 15-17 Days
Itinerary in Brief
- Day 1: Fly from Punta Arenas to Stanley
- Day 2-3: At Sea
- Days 4 -13: South Georgia
- Day 14-16: At Sea
- Day 17: Arrive to Ushuaia
*January 28, 2017 departure is 15 days long, with return via flight to Punta Arenas, Chile.
Day 1: Fly Punta Arenas to Falkland Islands
Our journey commences this morning in Punta Arenas. Here we board our scheduled flight to Stanley in the Falkland Islands. After a short 90-minute journey we are met on arrival and transferred to the pier. Stanley is home to just over 2,000 residents and is reminiscent of a rural town in coastal Britain. It is charming with brightly colored houses, pretty flower-filled gardens, a quaint cathedral and several local pubs. There is time to explore the town before embarkation. Excitement is in the air as we cast off, bound for Antarctica and the adventure of a lifetime.
Days 2-3: At sea
We chart a course bound for South Georgia. This stretch of the South Atlantic is rich in its bio-diversity and showcases an abundance of astonishing wildlife. We will be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions as we make our way south. Throughout the day our onboard experts educate us with a series of presentations about the environment, wildlife and history and the locations we hope to visit in the coming days.
Days 4 -7: King Haakon Bay, Salisbury Plain
Majestic snow-covered mountains greet us on arrival in South Georgia. We hope to navigate the ship into the historic location of King Haakon Bay. It was here that, 100 years ago, Shackleton and his men made landfall in their small lifeboat, the James Caird, after completing the perilous ocean crossing from Elephant Island. This dramatic location is visited by just a handful of ships each season. One of the most anticipated sites in South Georgia is Salisbury Plain. The black sand beaches and tussock covered dunes are home to a staggering 100,000 ing penguin adults and their young. This is just one of several such king penguin rookeries on South Georgia. Fur seals can also be seen poking their heads above the water; the elephant seals will enjoy lazing about the beach, while the skuas and giant petrels fill the skies above. Meanwhile, the albatross – our constant companion on this journey – is never far away.
Days 8 - 9: Stromness & Grytviken
History comes into sharp focus as we visit Stromness and Grytviken. From 1912 until the 1930’s, these locations acted as whaling stations. Today, the rusted and ghostly remnants seem out of place in such a pristine environment. If the weather co-operates, we hope to be able to hike the last few miles across the saddle separating Fortuna Bay from neighboring Stromness, following the footsteps of Shackleton, Crean and Worsley. As we journey further to the southeast we enter the broad expanse of Cumberland Bay. At the head of the bay lies Grytviken – the largest of the old whaling stations on South Georgia. A highlight of our landing here is a visit to the gravesite of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his loyal right hand man, Frank Wild.
Days 10 - 13: St. Andrews Bay & Gold Harbor
Our next few days will take us to St Andrew’s Bay and Gold Harbor – places that are teeming with wildlife including fur seals, elephant seals and massive colonies of the colorful king penguins. We will explore as much as you desire on foot. Gold Harbor is so called because the sun’s rays make the cliffs yellow with their light in the morning and evening. It’s an exhilarating location. Drygalski Fjord at the far eastern extremity of the island is another spectacular site in South Georgia.
Days 14-16: At Sea
Our final days are spent catching up on journal entries, or perhaps downloading and reviewing photos in the multi-media room with our photography expert. A highlight of our return journey will be frequent sightings of the majestic albatross, petrels and other seabirds as they soar above the ship on the winds of the Southern Ocean.
Day 17: Ushuaia
In the early morning, we arrive into Ushuaia, Argentina. Guests will be transported to their hotels or to the airport for return flights home. *NOTE: The January departure is two days shorter and returns to Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands, where you board your flight back to Punta Arenas in Chile. See the detailed trip notes for specific information.