- Experience the magnificent wildlife and hear tales of the fascinating history of South Georgia.
- Spend two days discovering the rich history and birdlife in the Falklands~Malvinas.
- Become one of the very few to reach the South Sandwich Islands – a corner of the world rarely visited by travellers.
- Enjoy Zodiac excursions in secluded bays and quiet coves filled with brash ice and photograph enormous glaciers and spectacularly shaped icebergs in various shades of blue.
- Superb onboard ship experience including deluxe cabins
PRE TOUR STAY
Consider arriving a day before the cruise itinerary starts (note: may be deemed necessary by flight schedules). You can relax and refresh after your flight. Or after the cruise ends extend your stay in Chile. The cost of the additional night/s of stay applies. Ask our travel team about this option, and the additional costs.
Having made your way to Ushuaia, you will be met by a representative of Aurora Expeditions and transferred to our group hotel. This evening, enjoy a light refreshment as you meet your fellow expeditioners at a Welcome Reception. Afterwards, dine at your leisure (dinner not included).
Accommodation: Las Hayas Hotel (or similar)
This morning, please ensure your cabin luggage is fitted with cabin tags clearly labelled with your name and cabin number. Your luggage will be collected from your hotel and transferred directly to the port for clearance and delivered to your cabin ahead of your arrival on board. Please keep any valuables or personal items with you throughout the day. Enjoy free time after check-out, meeting back in the hotel lobby at 2.00 pm to commence a short sightseeing tour of Ushuaia.
Ushuaia, capital of Tierra del Fuego is located at the shores of the Beagle Channel and surrounded by the Martial Mountains giving you a unique landscape in Argentina, which is the combination of mountains, sea, glaciers and forests. On this brief introductory tour, you will visit “La Mision” neighbourhood, the old Government House, and the upper area of the city, which offers beautiful panoramic views of Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel. During the excursion you will see the antique houses that belonged to the first families settled in Ushuaia. The excursion ends with a visit to the Old Prison Museum before transferring to the pier for embarkation at approximately 4.00 pm.
If you choose to not participate in the sightseeing tour, you will need to make your own way to the Prison Museum carpark by 3.45 pm to re-join the group for the transfer to the pier for embarkation.
After embarkation, you will have time to settle into your cabin before our important mandatory briefings. As the ship pulls away from port, we will gather on the deck to commence our adventure with spectacular views over Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego.
As we commence our trip across the South Atlantic Ocean towards the Falklands~Malvinas, 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, biosecurity procedures, and start our lecture program to help you learn more about the region’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 the ship. They rise and fall, skilfully using air currents created by the ship to gain momentum.
The Falklands~Malvinas comprises two large islands (East and West Falkland), with over 700 islands scattered off the coast. All but seven of these are uninhabited, with windswept coastlines, white sand beaches and crystal-clear water. These beautifully barren islands are true wildlife havens, sheltering an impressive diversity of birdlife, including the largest black-browed albatross colony on earth. The cold, nutrient-rich waters surrounding the islands make this a prime location for spotting marine life.
There are many beautiful areas to explore across the Falklands~Malvinas, each offering a unique perspective on this magnificent archipelago. Your experienced expedition team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to design your voyage from day to day, choosing the best options based on the prevailing winds, weather and wildlife opportunities.
We generally make landings or Zodiac excursions twice a day. Even though we are north of the Antarctic Convergence it can be quite chilly here, so you will want to layer up before joining Zodiac cruises into rocky coves or along sea cliffs, keeping watch for seals, sea lions, dolphins and penguins. Zodiacs will also shuttle you from the ship to shore, where you may be able to visit albatross colonies, penguin rookeries and perhaps even have a traditional English ‘tea and scones’ at a local cottage.
Conditions permitting, we hope to land in historic Stanley, the capital of the Falklands~Malvinas. This charming town has a distinctly British character, with terraced town houses, pioneer cottages and even an iconic red telephone box! Colourful buildings house cosy cafes, English pubs, souvenir shops, a post office and the fascinating Historic Dockyard Museum, with displays on the maritime history of the Falkland Islands, natural history and links to Antarctica.
Between the Falklands~Malvinas and South Georgia, perhaps spend time on the stern and watch the ceaseless flight of the many seabirds that follow the ship. Our team of experts will continue with the lecture program, interpreting the natural environment around you, the wildlife and the history of the places you will be visiting. You will have ample time to enjoy observing the seabirds, keeping a close watch for marine wildlife from the observation areas, or simply relaxing with a book from our well-stocked library.
If time and weather conditions permit, we could pass close to Shag Rocks, a fascinating group of jagged rocky islets protruding from the sea, in the proximity of South Georgia.
As you near the rugged island of South Georgia, spare a thought for Captain James Cook, who arrived here in 1775 and believed it to be the northern tip of a great southern continent! In fact, it is a small island only 176 km (110 mi) long, but with a 3,000 m (9,842 ft) snow-capped mountain range, some of the world’s largest congregations of wildlife and a truly fascinating human history, South Georgia is an island of incredible riches.
On approach, jagged mountain peaks rise steeply, while seabirds are often spotted soaring around the ship. You will sail along the coast, taking in the spectacular glaciated scenery. This enchanting coastline is yours to explore!
Make sure you layer up before joining Zodiac cruises around craggy coves and along the rocky coastline in search of nesting penguins, seal haul-outs and bird cliffs. Remember to keep an eye out for South Georgia’s kelp forests as well - these remarkable underwater ecosystems are quite mesmerising as their fronds sway back and forth on the water’s surface.
Our trusty Zodiacs will again zip us ashore, where you can visit some of the largest king penguin colonies on Earth, take a guided walk among fur seals and elephant seals (making sure you listen to your guides and keep your distance!) and wander along pebbled streams and grassy glacial outwash plains. We also hope to visit the remnants of South Georgia’s thriving whaling stations and pay our respects to Sir Ernest Shackleton, whose incredible voyage of survival is synonymous with this island. If you have chosen an optional activity, you will have the option to do that whenever conditions allow.
In addition to thrilling Zodiac excursions, we may ship cruise through fjords with towering cliffs of ancient stone, or into deeply indented bays towards dramatic glacier fronts. This is a great time to find a comfy spot in the observation lounge or make your way to the bridge to enjoy uninterrupted views of South Georgia’s majestic coast.
Our team of experts will continue their series of onboard lectures as we sail across the Scotia Sea towards the white continent. You may want to treat yourself to a massage in the wellness centre or stay active in the gym; the choice is yours on how you want to enjoy days at sea.
Days 14 -15
South Sandwich Islands
On Captain James Cook’s second voyage of discovery (1772–1775), he circumnavigated the globe in high southern latitudes, without seeing land, casting doubt on the existence of the Antarctic continent, which at that time was still unknown. It was during this voyage Cook discovered the South Sandwich Islands and landed on South Georgia Island, describing them as, ‘Lands doomed by Nature to perpetual frigidness: never to feel the warmth of the sun’s rays; whose horrible and savage aspects I have not words to describe.’
He named the South Sandwich Islands for Lord Sandwich, they are considered together with South Georgia, as a UK Dependent Territory (see above), and are uninhabited. Although Cook sighted a number of the islands, several more were not discovered until Bellingshausen visited in 1819.
Located about 740 km (460 mi) southeast of South Georgia, the islands form a chain some 350 km (220 mi) long, comprising 11 large and several smaller islands with a total area of about 600 sq. km (230 sq. mi). Most are ice-capped, and the tallest peak, on Montagu Island, reaches 1,370 m (4,500 ft). The climate is cold, with frequent snow and strong winds.
The islands are volcanic in origin and some remain active. The island of Zavodovski, for instance, appears in constant eruption and reeks of rotten eggs (the volcano itself is named Mt. Asphyxia), while the islands of Visokoi, Candlemas, Saunders, and Bellingshausen all show definite signs of activity. Bristol, Cook, and Thule islands are heavily glaciated and show no signs of warmth or activity. All the islands are steep sided above the water and fall away rapidly into deep water - more than 1,500 m (5,000 ft).
In this wild environment, nature determines what we are able to do and see. If conditions allow, we hope to explore the dramatic coastline of some the islands. Little is known about these islands, although the British Antarctic Survey has undertaken some limited biological and geological work there, mainly in the 1960s. Vegetation is very sparse. But there’s at least one extraordinary wildlife spectacle: Zavodovski Island supports a chinstrap penguin colony that numbers around one million penguins on its steep volcanic slopes. Those who have seen this massive penguin colony speak of it with awe.
Reflect over a few drinks on the adventures of the last few days spent in the wild South Sandwich Islands and hear tales of exploration and discovery from our team of onboard experts as we prepare for our exciting days ahead in the Antarctic Peninsula.
It’s almost impossible to describe the feeling of arriving in Antarctica. Spotting your first iceberg and taking a deep breath of some of the most fresh, crisp air on earth is an experience that will stay with you forever. Because we are so far south, we will experience approximately 18-24 hours of daylight and the days can be as busy as you wish.
Enjoy Zodiac cruises along spectacular ice cliffs or among grounded icebergs, keeping a close watch for whales, seals and porpoising penguins. While ashore we aim to stretch our legs, wandering along pebbly beaches or perhaps hike up snow-covered ridgelines to vantage points with mountains towering overhead and ice-speckled oceans below. We may encounter penguin colonies and remember that they have right of way here!
Keen polar plungers will have the chance to fully immerse themselves in polar waters - conditions permitting!
We will also ship-cruise some of the narrow, dramatic straits separating offshore islands from the mainland, or linger in scenic bays to watch whales travelling or feeding. Enjoy uninterrupted views of Antarctica in all its splendour from one of the observation lounges with a warm beverage in hand. Keep an ear out for the creak and deep rumble of glaciers as they carve their way from summit to sea. Take a quiet moment to experience the wonder of the incredible White Continent.
Drake Passage Crossing
Enjoy a final morning landing in the South Shetland Islands before we enter the Drake Passage for our return journey to South America.
With lectures and film presentations to complete our Antarctic experience, there is still plenty of time to enjoy the magic of the Southern Ocean and the life that calls it home. There is time for reflection and discussion about what we have seen and experienced. We hope you become ambassadors for Antarctica telling your family, friends and colleagues about your journey to this magical place, advocating for its conservation and preservation so that they might one day visit the region to experience what you have been lucky to see and do here.
As we approach the tip of South America, our Captain may sail close to legendary Cape Horn, weather and time permitting.
During the early morning, we cruise up the Beagle Channel, before quietly slipping into dock in Ushuaia, where we will be free to disembark around 8.00 am. Farewell your expedition team and fellow passengers as we all continue our onward journeys, hopefully with a newfound sense of the immense power of nature. A transfer to Ushuaia airport or to your hotel is included in the voyage fare.
NOTE: At the conclusion of the voyage, not recommend to book flights departing Ushuaia prior to 12.00 pm on the day of disembarkation in case of delays.
Note: It is your responsibility to check if your government requires you to have a COVID test prior to boarding an international flight to return to your country of residence. If this applies to you, then you may be required to book additional nights after the voyage. Please speak with your travel agent or with an Aurora Expeditions consultant at least four weeks prior to departure if you need assistance booking additional post-voyage arrangements.
Itineraries may be subject to change, due to circumstances outside of our control. If there is any itinerary change prior to departure of significance we aim to inform you prior to travel. Itinerary changes while on tour will be informed by your tour leader/guide while on tour.
This cruise is operated by Aurora Expeditions. We have a small allocation of cabins available for our solo travellers for sole use of cabins.