Enjoy your complimentary pre-flight overnight hotel before your holiday begins. Full details from our office! Read more about our Pre-flight Service here!
Day 1: Mon 17 October 2022 Depart London Heathrow
After relaxing in our complimentary VIP Airport Lounge, we depart London Heathrow on an overnight flight to Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Day 2: Tue 18 October 2022 Ushuaia
Arrive at Buenos Aires early-morning and transfer onward to Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost large settlement, found on the barren shores of the island of Tierra del Fuego. This is a wild, windswept place, and whilst bird numbers are lower at this southern latitude, the quality is undeniable.
Depending on time of arrival, the afternoon is free to explore the town or begin birding. At the harbour front, and on nearby ponds you may see Kelp and Dolphin Gull, Upland and Kelp Goose, Fuegian Steamer Duck and South American Tern. Chimanga Caracara are overhead, and you may also see Southern Lapwing, Magellanic and Blackish Oystercatcher, Red Shoveler, Night Heron and Chilean Skua. The first Southern Giant Petrel and Great Grebe may be seen at sea, and landbirds include Austral Thrush, House Wren, Austral Negrito, Chilean Swallow, Black-chinned Siskin and Rufous-collared Sparrow.
Day 3: Wed 19 October 2022 Farewell The End of The World!
Having enjoyed some birding around the city – often referred to as ‘The End of The World’, we embark from Puerto Madryn in the afternoon, and head for the Falkland Islands. Golfo Nuevo and the waters in the early part of the voyage are renowned for their visiting Southern Right Whales, and we have a good chance of spotting one as we sail toward the open ocean to start our oceanic lists!
Days 4 - 5: Thu & Fri 20 & 21 October 2022 Life on the ocean waves
For two days, we acclimatise to life on the open sea, and start to learn the various seabirds and cetaceans of the Southern Ocean. There is rarely a dull moment on the decks as several bird species will follow us as we head southeast - albatrosses, storm petrels, shearwaters, and diving petrels will test our ID skills, and we may see whales and dolphins as well.
Days 6 - 7 : Sat & Sun 22 & 23 October 2022 The Falklands
The Falkland Islands remain largely unknown gems. The islands offer an abundance of wildlife that is easily approachable, with not only many species of bird, but chances are we’ll see both Peale’s Dolphin and Commerson’s Dolphin in the surrounding waters. Birds may include ‘Johnny Rook’ – the local name of the very localised Striated Caracara, Falklands Steamer Duck, and several species of Antarctic Goose (including Upland, Ruddy-headed and Kelp Geese).
During our time in the area, we may visit the following sites:
Steeple Jason – Home to the world’s largest Black-browed Albatross colony -totalling approximately 113,000 birds! Steeple Jason is a wild and rarely visited island buffeted by wind and waves. Weather and swell conditions will dictate whether we spend time here.
Carcass Island – Despite its name, this island is pleasantly rodent-free and hence abounds with birdlife. Anything from breeding Magellanic Penguin and Gentoo Penguin to numerous waders and passerines (including Cobb’s Wren and Blackish Cinclodes (often called the Tussock Bird)) live here.
Saunders Island – On Saunders Island you can see the Black-browed Albatross and its sometimes-clumsy landings, along with breeding Imperial Shag and Rockhopper penguin. King, Magellanic and Gentoo Penguins are also found here, making it one of the greatest places on Earth to get to know your penguin species!
Westpoint Island – Landing in a small cove, we will be able to walk through the Tussac Grass to see an enormous breeding colony of Black-browed Albatrosses where they live side by side with Rockhopper Penguins.
Grave Cove – Nesting Gentoo Penguins and excellent hiking opportunities are found around Grave Cove, with the chance to enjoy the scenery and wildlife that the islands has to offer.
Days 8 - 9: Mon & Tue 24 & 25 October 2022 Time to wrap up warm!
En route to South Georgia, we cross the Antarctic Convergence. This is where cold, northward-flowing Antarctic waters meet the relatively warmer waters of the sub-Antarctic, bringing nutrients to the surface of the sea. This phenomenon attracts a multitude of seabirds, including several species of albatross, shearwaters, petrels, prions, and skuas as well as Minke, Humpback and Fin Whales and Orca. The air temperature cools considerably within the space of a few hours, so don’t forget to wear that extra layer as you enjoy the wealth of wildlife on show!
Days 10 - 16: Wed 26 October - Tue 1 November 2022 South Georgia
The disputed British Overseas Territory of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands is home to five million seals and 65 million seabirds, including the largest global populations of Light-mantled Sooty and Grey-headed Albatrosses, Northern Giant Petrel and White-chinned Petrel. This inhospitable, mountainous archipelago has played a major role in Antarctic exploration as well as being a haven for wildlife.
Weather and sea state will decide our itinerary whilst in South Georgia, but our visit may include:
Prion Island – This location is closed during the early part of the Wandering Albatross breeding season (November 20 – January 7), mainly to stop disturbance of breeding Fur Seals on the landing beach. The previous summer’s albatross chicks are almost ready to fledge, and adults are seeking out their old partners after a year and a half at sea.
Salisbury Plain, St. Andrews Bay, Gold Harbour – These sites not only house the three largest King Penguin colonies in South Georgia, they’re also three of the world’s largest breeding beaches for Southern Elephant Seal. Only during this time of year do they peak in their breeding cycle. Watch the four-ton bulls keep a constant vigil (and occasionally engage in some bloody fighting) over territories where dozens of females have just given birth or are about to deliver their pups. There is also a substantial number of Antarctic Fur Seals here from late-November onwards.
Fortuna Bay – A beautiful outwash plain from Fortuna Glacier is home to a large number of King Penguin and seals. We may also have the chance to take a hike following the final leg of Shackleton’s route to the abandoned whaling village of Stromness. The boggy path cuts across the mountain pass beyond Shackleton’s Waterfall. Antarctic Tern, South Polar Skua can be seen in this area.
Leith Harbour, Stromness, Husvik – These sites are dominated by former whaling factories which show the huge scale of the whaling industry in the early 20th century. As well as the derelict settlements and industrial ghost towns, Elephant and Fur Seals breed and moult here. Gentoo Penguins also occupy the landing sites. Antarctic Prions and South Georgia Diving Petrels may be observed, especially in the area of Husvik.
Grytviken – In this eerie, abandoned whaling station, King Penguins walk the streets and Elephant Seals lie around like they own the place – because they basically do! We may be able to see the South Georgia Museum, the famous church, the abandoned cinema, and the rest of the deserted village which used to be home to 500 inhabitants. We will also get to see Shackleton’s grave, where he was laid to rest following his death in 1922.
Cobblers Cove, Godthul – From Cobblers Cove we will hope to visit Rookery Point to see Macaroni Penguins. Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses nest along the coastline and Southern Giant Petrels can be observed as well. Godthul (Norwegian for “good cove”) was named by Norwegian whalers and seal-hunters and bones from their prey can still be found along the shoreline today. The beaches are home to Gentoo Penguins and seals.
Royal Bay (Moltke Harbour, Will Point & Brisbane Point) – Moltke Harbour in Royal Bay was named by the German International Polar Year Expedition in 1882, and some of the remains of their dwellings are still visible. The scenery of Royal Bay is beautiful - dark sandy beaches with bright green tussocks and overlooked by the snow and ice-covered Ross Glacier. Cruising about on a zodiac in Royal Bay is spectacular, and an exhilarating experience as it is one of the windiest bays on the island! Approximately 30,000 pairs of King Penguins also live here.
Cooper Bay – The largest Chinstrap Penguin population can be found in Cooper Bay, and Gentoo and Macaroni Penguins are also present. It is another haven for birdlife, with Antarctic Tern, White-chinned Petrel, Blue-eyed Shag and Light-mantled Sooty Albatross also being seen in this area.
Drygalski Fjord – The ship sails through this narrow fjord, offering spectacular views of a spectacular landscape with 2,000 metre high mountains rising from the waves at close range.
Annenkov Island – Passing Pickersgill Islands we reach the rarely visited Annenkov Island which was first discovered by James Cook in 1775. It was later renamed by the Russian expedition of Fabian von Bellingshausen in 1819. Annenkov is rocky, with a variety of ridges, peaks and hills where a variety of fossils have been found over the years.
King Haakon Bay – British explorer Ernest Shackleton reached King Haakon Bay after his ship had got crushed by ice in the Weddell Sea. He made the 800-mile journey here on the open boat “James Caird” from Elephant Island where his party was stranded. From here he crossed to Stromness to ask for help to rescue his party. These days, Elephant Seals dominate the beaches, but we will look out for the plethora of birdlife, including South Georgia Pipit, Antarctic Prions as well as Common Diving and Blue petrels.
Days 17 - 21: Wed 2 - Mon 6 November 2022 Westward bound
There may be icebergs and some sea ice on this section of our route, and South Polar Skuas and Snow Petrels are likely to join the albatrosses and petrels trailing the vessel towards the Drake Passage.
Our return voyage to mainland Argentina is far from lonely - while crossing the Drake Passage, we will re-acquaint ourselves with the vast array of seabirds that accompanied us on our passage south, except identification is easier, and spotting whales and other mammals is also easier! It’s the last chance for some onboard photography as we traverse the waves of the mighty Southern Ocean for the last time.
Day 22: Tue 7 November 2022 Terra Firma
In the morning, we arrive and disembark back in Ushuaia after a monumental journey across the far south of the world. From here, we fly home to London via Buenos Aires, arriving back in the UK on Day 23, Wed 8 November 2022.
Please note: all itineraries are given as a guide only. Actual holiday content may vary according to the judgement of your guide, and elements beyond our control (e.g. weather).