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An outpost of Britain 8,000 miles from home. Desolate islands filled with millions of seabirds. And then you get to Antarctica. This expedition cruise is a comprehensive exploration of the south Atlantic and Antarctica’s wild landscapes and abundant wildlife.
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Land in Buenos Aires today. On arrival you are collected by your guide and taken to your charming small hotel in either the Palermo or Las Canitas area. Despite being close to the centre of the city, these barrios are quiet, leafy and green with lots of pavement cafes. Relax after your journey and stretch your legs this afternoon, before strolling to one of the restaurants nearby for supper.
Spend this morning in the company of your own private guide who can take you on and off the beaten track in this lively and beautiful city. You will have a car at your disposal, but we recommend getting out and walking for some of the tour. Rather than follow a specific route, you basically just let them know what sorts of things you like to see and they can take you. This afternoon you might like to explore the enormous and rather lovely Recoleta cemetery.
Arrive in Patagonia as you fly south onto the island of Tierra del Fuego and the world’s most southerly city. On arrival transfer to your small friendly hotel on the shores of the Beagle Channel a couple of kilometres outside the main town. This afternoon you have time to explore - your hosts are very knowledgeable and will help you to make the most of your time here.
Today you are free to explore Ushuaia and its surroundings. If you'd like to stretch your legs, Tierra del Fuego National Park offers spectacular scenery for coastal walks and sea kayaking. If you don’t fancy a walk there is a (very touristy) locomotive train that takes you into the park.
You have the morning to see more of Ushuaia, which has a couple of very good small museums. Check in this afternoon at the dock and board your chosen small ship. Set sail along the Beagle channel as you head towards the Falkland Islands (or Islas Malvinas as they are known in these parts).
Enjoy a varied and interesting program of lectures and talks given by the experts who are with you on board. From the ship’s bridge you can often see whales and dolphins. Seabirds including petrels and albatross fly alongside the ship. There is a programme of talks while on board given by your team of expert guides.
You should arrive in the Falklands overnight so by morning you are ready to take your first shore excursion. The plan is to explore the islands of the West Falkland Archipelago, home to a profusion of seabirds and migratory birds including the black-browed albatross. Your first penguin sightings will be on the island of Westpoint with its bustling rookeries of rockhoppers.
On Carcass Island, you should see nesting Magellanic penguins along with oystercatchers, geese and the flightless steamer duck. Visit the town of Stanley, capital of the Falkland Islands. Take time to wander through the charming streets of brightly painted houses. Find out about the history of what was once a major port for ships attempting to round the formidable waters of Cape Horn.
Set sail southeast towards the island of South Georgia. You should not expect luxury on board but you can expect to be comfortable and well looked after. You can also head up to the ship's bridge, essentially open to passengers 24-hours a day. Remember that it’s pretty much light around the clock.
The chart room is a fascinating place to visit, remember that much of the navigation is done not by GPS or satellite but by good old-fashioned maritime charts. The bridge is also one of the best places for wildlife viewing so you will find binoculars, wildlife identification books and usually an expedition guide up there. This is the perfect place to enjoy the beautiful Antarctic scenery when the seas are calm.
Arrive in South Georgia today and a landscape dominated by beautiful snow- covered mountains. Cruise the protected waters of the eastern coast looking for suitable landing spots such as Salisbury Plain and St Andrews Bay. The highlight is the king penguin colonies covering every inch of the shore.
The islands have no permanent population although there is an outpost of the British Antarctic Survey there. Originally claimed by Captain Cook back in 1775, the islands eventually became the biggest whaling centre in the world. On this trip you will hopefully be able to explore an old whaling station at Grytviken (Greet-vik-in) and visit the grave of the most famous Antarctic explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton.
Spend today still exploring the stunning landscapes of South Georgia. Fur seals can be seen poking their heads above the water, skuas and giant petrels swoop in the skies above, and the albatross is never far away. Among the historic accounts of South Georgia, perhaps none is as enthralling as that of Shackleton's arrival seeking aid for the crew of the lost ship Endurance. His grave is located on South Georgia.
Set off across the Scotia Sea as you approach Antarctica. In this part of the world, many of the place names will be familiar to UK clients as British sailors were among the first to navigate these waters. Sail towards the South Orkney Islands which are linked to the Antarctic Peninsula by an enormous underwater mountain range.
The islands themselves are protected by large icebergs and sea ice with over 85 percent of the islands glaciated. There's a reason these are called the "inaccessible islands." Weather permitting you may visit Orcadas, the oldest continuously-manned research station in Antarctica. Native birds such as Snow and Cape petrels, Blue-eyed shags and Kelp gulls nest in the cliffs, and thousands of penguins await.
Spend today making your final crossing to the Antarctic Peninsula. By now you will be well acquainted with your ship and your shipmates, and can use your sea days to relax and discuss the treats already seen, and those left to come. The resident ornithologist is available to answer any questions and help develop your knowledge and eye for the many species who inhabit these remote waters and islands.
Arrive in the South Shetland Islands today‚ a group of islands 120km off the shores of the Antarctic Peninsula. So called because of the physical resemblance to the Scottish islands, except that is for the penguins and fur seals you will be walking through!
Wake up to the sight of mainland Antarctica. Today you have your first continental landing. The peninsula is highly mountainous, its highest peaks rise to 2,800m directly from the sea. As well as the magnificent scenery of mountains, snow and ice, you can expect to see a wide variety of the native wildlife.
Sail through the breathtaking Lemaire Channel which runs between the Antarctic Peninsula and Booth Island. Also known as Kodak Gap or Fuji Funnel as most people find it impossible to put down their camera. The passage is about 10km long and about 1.5km wide at its narrowest. High, sheer cliffs plunge straight into the iceberg filled waters.
This morning is one of the highlights of the trip as the ship heads north and into Paradise Bay. Wrap up warm for zodiac cruising as you spend over an hour zig-zaging between huge icebergs and get as close as possible to the glacier faces. Spend the afternoon whale watching. Humpback whales are common as they gather in large numbers to feed.
You reach the South Shetlands today – a group of islands 120km off the shores of the Antarctic Peninsula. Disembark at Deception Island - the largest active volcano in the area. The surrounding black volcanic sand beaches can seem desolate, though actually have warm thermal waters bubbling below. On a dark or snowy day though, the black sands and ruins of the whaling station create a thoroughly eerie, tangible atmosphere.
This morning you navigate north again via the Melchior islands and towards the open sea of the Drake Passage. The Drake Passage is entirely open water with no land anywhere around the world at these latitudes. This allows for the unimpeded flow of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current which spins around the continent, connecting the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean basins. It’s this which results in the often ‘lively’ seas, and has given rise to the mythical status of the Drake.
Today is another full day at sea though you will normally get back into the protected waters of the Beagle Channel and on to Ushuaia harbour some time this evening. During the day you can browse your (doubtless many!) photos, relax and chat with your fellow passengers about the amazing adventure, or see if you can't spot the last of your marine mammals from up on the bridge.
Disembark this morning in Ushuaia for your flight back up to Buenos Aires this morning. Landing late afternoon, transfer to your Palermo hotel for a final night's stay.
You may have some time to see a little more of Argentina's capital before you head to the airport for your flight home. Alternatively, consider extending your trip in South America, perhaps to Iguassu Falls or the Brazilian coast.
Note: This is just an itinerary idea and we'll therefore tailor everything to you.
Flexible departures: If you're ready to start travelling again, you can book now secure in the knowledge that we offer you the freedom to defer your trip, until the point your balance is paid, to any available date before the end of 2021. For expedition cruises, such as to Antarctica, this will be dependent on the flexibility the cruise operators are able to offer us and so will be done on a case by case basis.
Financial protection: For complete peace of mind in these uncertain times, your money is fully protected by our membership of ABTOT and the ATOL scheme.
Ensuring your safety: Please rest assured that your safety is always our top priorty. Our partners will all follow the strict guidelines set out by the government to ensure your safety whilst travelling, and we will fully support them to ensure they are able to do so.
The Southern Oceans and Antarctica are very physical places, wild ocean crossings, uninhabited islands, massive ice flows and high mountains. However, what is surprising to most people is that, in summer, conditions are relatively benign. You will want to be wrapped up warm and windproof most days but it isn’t unknown for shore landings to happen in light fleeces. In the Falklands you are at the same latitude (in relative terms) as London and on the Antarctic Peninsula, the same as Iceland.
This South Georgia, Antarctica and Falklands cruise holiday is gently active, shore landings involve getting in and out of zodiac inflatable craft as well as walking on the sometimes treacherous shores of South Georgia and Antarctica. However, there is no specific physical requirement to join us on the journey.
It is worth considering the seas, the long crossings from Ushuaia to the Falklands, on down to South Georgia and from there to Antarctica and returning over the Drake Passage. There are many days spent on board the ship travelling between the destinations. There are positives in this, including time to prepare yourself for your next landings with talks and information, as well as enjoying time with your fellow passengers, guides and crew.
However, these are wild stretches of sea which can be very physically demanding and tiring. Of course, this is part of the journey, part of the experience. The wildlife of South Georgia is as incredible as it is because it is so remote and hard to reach. It is our strong opinion that these preserves places to be preserved, fiercely protected, and part of that is to make it difficult to get to. To visit the Southern Oceans you have to ‘earn your stripes’ and that’s the crossings.
In terms of human history and culture, the Falklands are probably the obvious highlight of this trip. There is something extraordinary about finding a little slice of Britain so very far from home. The stories, and tragedy, of the war are very much alive here. Of course, the islands remain a political hot-potato to this day, leading no doubt to some interesting discussions on board.
Both South Georgia and Antarctica are primarily places to visit for their extraordinary landscapes and wildlife. However, much of what you learn will relate to the amazing human history of this wild corner of the world. As well as visiting the current research facilities down there, no trip to Antarctica would be complete without an insight into the early days of exploration. Tales of endurance and an unquenchable thirst for discovery paint a very different picture of the first trips to the White Continent.
On a very different note, Antarctic expedition cruises tend to be very international affairs with passengers, crew and guides coming from all over the globe. This alone can make the experience wonderfully enriching.
If you would like to join us on this holiday, please call for us to check space and discuss any additional arrangements you may want. We have a more detailed itinerary for this trip, please get in touch and we can email that to you.
However, most people enjoy this cruise as part of a longer trip to South America. The most obvious places to visit are within Chile and Argentina, be that tropical Iguassu Falls or hiking across the Torres del Paine National Park. We would love to prepare a personalised proposal for you to consider so why not call us on 01273 676 712 and we can get started?
The standard trip includes accommodation in a twin/double cabin, all meals, activities, lectures and excursions as listed on the detailed itinerary. Also included are flights within Argentina, five nights' hotel accommodation in Buenos Aires and Ushuaia, and a privately guided city tour of Buenos Aires. Naturally, on each and every one of our holidays, we include Pura’s expertise, local contacts, support and advice throughout, along with the reassurance of our financial protection and safety auditing.
International flights are quoted separately for this holiday. You need to fly in and out of Buenos Aires, Argentina (airport code: EZE).
Departs on selected dates between November and March; please contact us to discuss date and boat options.
Contact us today to start planning your own personal adventure
The described itinerary is just a taster of what this trip could involve. We would work with you to tailor your personal trip.