Fly & Cruise – Antarctica, South Georgia & Falklands
An in-depth exploration of Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falkland Islands
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
The towering peaks and immense glacial systems of the Antarctic Peninsula are home to a great abundance of wildlife which we observe on shore, from the Zodiacs and the ship. Large penguin rookeries are found at several locations and we encounter seals and whales in the iceberg filled waterways. Opportunities to visit historic huts and active science stations add further interest. We explore on shore through guided walks which may last up to several hours. Or if you prefer to sit and observe the penguins as they come and go from the water – why not?Our journey continues as we follow the course taken by Sir Ernest Shackleton whose epic small boat journey, from Elephant Island across the Scotia Sea to South Georgia remains one of the greatest feats of navigation in history. We explore the northern coastline of South Georgia, home to some of the largest King penguin colonies on Earth. The shores are covered in wildlife – including nesting albatross, Fur seals and Elephant seals. Rusting relics from the old whaling era sit silent and provide a dramatic contrast to the green tussock grass, and snowy peaks that surround us. We then head for the Falkland Islands and aim to spend one final day exploring the wildlife-rich Falkland Islands. Our voyage comes to an end in Stanley – the small capital of the Falkland Islands.
* All meals while on the ship
* Beer and wine during dinner (except departures on Akademik Ioffe)
* All accommodation
* All transport and listed activities
* Full complement of qualified Expedition Staff
* We can include flights from the UK. Please contact us for a quote.
Start Punta Arenas (Chile)
Upon arrival in Punta Arenas, Chile, where our Antarctic journey commences, make your way to our signature hotel for an included pre-voyage stay. This evening, we encourage you to visit the welcome desk set up in the lobby of the hotel to check in with the One Ocean Expeditions’ representative and to collect luggage tags for your voyage. Punta Arenas is the gateway to Chilean Patagonia, facilitating easy exploration of the region pre-voyage
King George Island, Antarctica
Our journey begins this morning with a transfer to the airport for the two-hour flight across the Drake Passage to Antarctica. Upon arrival at King George Island, we embark our ship via Zodiac. After settling into our cabins and exploring our new surroundings, we meet our Expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as we enjoy a welcome refreshment and set sail. No doubt, everyone will be looking forward to the adventure ahead.
Gerlache Strait & Antarctic Peninsula Exploration
Take a deep breath and venture out on deck as the towering peaks of the Antarctic continent are laid out before us. This is the moment you have been waiting for. For the next two days we have a varied itinerary exploring the Gerlache coastline. We may aim for Paradise Harbour and an opportunity to step foot on the continental land mass of Antarctica. For many, this is the fulfillment of a life-long goal. A superb hike here leads up to a high point affording incredible views of the glaciers and mountains. This is a good location to observe nesting Imperial cormorants on the cliffs. While Zodiac cruising or paddling the kayaks into nearby Skontorp Cove are other memorable activities – the small cove is surrounded by towering glaciers on all three sides.Our activity program is in full swing by now, and each day we enjoy guided walks on shore, visits to wildlife colonies, and Zodiac cruising among the ice with our expert guides providing insight and interpretation. We have been exploring this section of Antarctica’s coastline for many years and we have a few special locations in mind. The Errera Channel has several such spots – including Danco Island – a dome-shaped sentinel providing some great hiking options. Cuverville Island is another favourite – with its substantial gentoo penguin rookeries. We may navigate north through the Gerlache Strait towards Spert Island – a little visited rocky outcrop with remarkable geology. The island is criss-crossed by narrow channels which makes for fantastic Zodiac cruising and sea kayaking. The cliffs are home to numerous nesting bird species and we often encounter whales here. Nearby Mikkelson Harbour also allows for another potential off-ship excursion. After several busy days of exploration we head north, bound for the South Shetland Islands. This is an important whale migration corridor and we expect sightings of Humpbacks, or the resident Orca group that inhabit this area.
Having crossed the Bransfield Straight overnight, we arrive in the South Shetland Islands. If the weather conditions allow, we may sail the ship into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. This is a very dramatic place and history is all around us as we explore the old whaling station, with the rusted old boilers and dilapidated wooden huts. At the far end of the beach is an old aircraft hangar. This is where Australian, Sir Hubert Wilkins made the very first flight in Antarctica in 1928. There is also an outstanding hike here, high up onto the rim of the crater.
Situated at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctic Sound is about 10 miles wide and separates the Antarctic Peninsula from Joinville Island. Our gateway to the Weddell Sea, Antarctic Sound is also an exciting destination in its own right. Home to science stations, Adelie penguin rookeries and tabular icebergs, we will experience many of the different faces of Antarctica. While visiting Antarctic Sound, we may visit sites such as Brown Bluff, Hope Bay, or Gourdin Island.
Scotia Sea - towards South Georgia
Point Lookout on the southern tip of Elephant Island is home to an impressive Chinstrap penguin colony. Macaroni penguins also breed here and are a species we have yet to encounter to date. Both southern Elephant seals and Fur seals are hauled out on the rocky beaches. If conditions permit, we may visit the fabled location of Point Wild on the north coast of Elephant Island. It is here that Shackleton and his men were encamped under their upturned life boats, before the six men set off on a rescue mission to South Georgia in their tiny lifeboat – the ‘James Caird’. We then chart a southeasterly course bound for South Georgia.
Exploration of South Georgia
South Georgia has often been called the ‘Serengeti of the Southern Ocean’ – and as we approach the deep bays of this rugged, rocky outcrop, you will begin to see why. Launching the Zodiacs we begin our exploration of the island, in the vicinity of Elsehul Bay. Large numbers of Fur seals and the much larger Elephant seal will line the dark sand beaches. Living in the tussock grass, King penguins and their chicks may number up to 100,000 birds in some locations, including Salisbury Plain, St Andrews Bay and Gold Harbour. The island is also home to large numbers of nesting albatross as they fill the skies above, coming and going from the nest.Dotted along the coastline are the rusting relics of the early whaling era. The largest of these locations is Grytviken. Here we find a fascinating museum and a beautifully restored Norwegian Lutheran Church. Adjacent to the old whaling station lies a small cemetery. This is the final resting place of Sir Ernest Shackleton – who was laid to rest here in 1922. For many onboard, being in the presence of the great explorer is a highlight of the trip. We continue our journey along the coastline, hoping to visit Stromness – another former whaling station – and the final destination of Shackleton and companions Frank Worsley and Tom Crean having made the near impossible traverse across the interior of South Georgia after their epic boat trip from Antarctica a century ago.
At Sea - towards the Falklands
By now we are in sensory overload, our cameras full of images and our journey towards the Falkland Islands commences. The spectacular seabirds including several albatross and petrel species are our constant companions as they soar above the ship. The onboard educational program continues, and our experts recap our remarkable journey to date. These days provide a good opportunity to catch up on journal entries, sort through your images at the multimedia stations and catch some rest after several busy days of activity.
We wake to the sight of landfall in the Falkland Islands. Situated in the Scotia Sea more than 250 nautical miles off the coast of South America, the Falklands Islands are situated in relatively shallow and very rich waters for marine life. As such, the Falklands are host to an amazing array of Antarctic and subAntarctic species as well as many species from neighbouring South America. It is entirely possible to see a striated caracara, known locally as a Johnny Rook, stalking Gentoo penguin chicks, with Black-browed albatross soaring overhead. This amazing juxtaposition of Antarctic and South American wildlife is one of the many great surprises of the Falkland Islands.Our choice of landing sites in the Falkland Islands will depend in many respects on our crossing from South Georgia. Our transit speed will be dependent on the weather systems coming through the Drake Passage, which will in turn dictate our arrival time and place in the Falklands. We may choose to visit the East Falklands or push on to the West Falklands for a day of excursions prior to disembarkation in Port Stanley. Possible excursion sites include Bleaker Island in the East Falklands or West Point Island in the West Falklands. Either offer excellent wildlife opportunities with Magellanic penguins, potentially Rockhopper penguins and a number of bird species endemic to the Falkland Islands. In the waters around the islands, we may be fortunate to see Commerson’s and/or Peale’s dolphins.While the wildlife of the Falkland Islands is certainly an attraction for many, there is a vibrant history and an engaging Camp or countryside lifestyle. As we visit the Falkland Islands and are hosted by land owners, we will learn much about life in this isolated outpost of the United Kingdom.
Disembark in Stanley, Falkland Islands; fly to Santiago, Chile
This morning we find ourselves in the port of Stanley. We say goodbye to our crew and make our way to the airport for our return private air charter to Santiago. On arrival in Santiago our journey comes to an end. Onward regional and international flight connections may be possible this evening. A transfer is provided to a downtown location for those choosing to stay and explore Santiago and the delights of Chile.