A superb voyage to South Georgia, the remotest and wildest of the United Kingdom's Overseas Territories.
Located 1,400 kilometres east of the Falkland Islands, the only access to South Georgia is by sea (two days sailing from the Falklands). It measures roughly 170 kilometres by 30 kilometres and is entirely covered by snow-capped mountains that reach a height of 2,934 metres, while more than 160 glaciers run down to the sea. Huge numbers of seabirds and marine mammals breed along the shores fringed with tussock grass.
Despite the Island once being the centre of the whaling industry (and decimated the population), seal populations have now recovered to the point that both fur and elephant seals are once again numerous on the beaches and whale species are also recovering, albeit slowly, and are now frequently spotted.
This voyage also visits the remote Falkland Islands, where you will find beaches home to seals and sealions, penguins and a wealth of seabirds, together with the South Shetland Islands, home to enigmatic Elephant Island.
A typical South Georgia itinerary is shown below, however durations vary depending on date and expedition vessel.
Day1: Embark Ushuaia and set sail towards the Western Falkland Islands
In the afternoon board your vessel and set sail towards the Western Falkland Islands (Malvinas), known for their rugged beauty and wealth of seabirds and waterfowl.
Day2: At sea
The open bridge policy on the Ushuaia allows you to join the officers on the bridge and learn about navigation, watch for whales, and enjoy the view. These waters are also home to an interesting group of seabirds, which often ride the currents created in the wake of the ship, such as albatrosses and petrels. Join the expedition staff and naturalists on deck whilst you are at sea as they search for seabirds and other local wildlife, such as orcas and dolphins. An interesting selection of lectures will help you prepare for your first excursions in the Falkland Islands.
Day3: Western Falkland Islands
On the western coast you may visit West Point Island, which lies off the most north-westerly point of mainland West Falkland. The attractive settlement sits on the edge of a small harbour on the eastern side of the Island, in the lee of Black Bog Hill and Michael´s Mount. The valley between these two peaks rolls over the centre of the island to the dramatic Devil´s Nose, one of the Island´s main attractions. From here visitors are treated to splendid views of Cliff Mountain, the Island´s highest point at 381 metres, and the highest cliffs in the Falklands. This is where you can encounter a vast colony of rockhopper penguins and black-browed albatrosses, nesting together in close vicinity.
You will also visit Carcass Island, situated north-west of the Falkland archipelago. A mature tussac plantation covers much of the lower ground below Jason Hill to the east. The availability of abundant cover and the absence of cats, rats and mice throughout the island have made for a spectacularly large population of small birds, which is one of Carcass Island´s most delightful features. Gentoo and magellanic penguins do also nest here. Peale´s and Commerson´s dolphins come frequently close to the shoreline to get a glimpse of the visitors as well.
Overnight the vessel sails around the northern islands of the archipelago in an easterly direction to reach the capital, Stanley, the following morning.
Day4: Eastern Falkland Islands
In the morning you will have time to explore the quaint little town of Stanley and its wonderful museum, souvenir shops and pubs. The town was established in the early 1840´s. Isolation and the weather conditions made life hard, but progress was gradual and punctuated by the extremely eventful times of involvement in two world wars. For those who are more interested in the outstanding wildlife the Islands have to offer, you do not even have to leave town to enjoy it. Southern giant petrels often fly close to the shoreline. The endemic Falkland steamer ducks abound on the shorelines while kelp gulls can often be seen flying together with dolphin gulls. The less obvious but frequent visitors to Stanley area are black-crowned night herons, red-backed hawks and peregrine falcons. Turkey vultures are regularly seen on top of any prominent building. Many pairs of upland geese frequent the park and it might be nice to take a stroll around the gardens of town to see some of the singing birds as well. In the early afternoon it is time to set sail, heading for South Georgia.
Days5-6: At sea
An extensive lecture program will be offered during the days at sea. Expert naturalists share their knowledge of the wildlife and unique ecosystems you will encounter throughout our voyage. South Georgia is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful and inspiring places on earth with more wildlife than virtually anywhere else on the planet.
Day7: At sea, South Georgia
Today South Georgia will come in sight. Although extremely isolated, it has amazing scenery ranging from high mountains and mighty glaciers to deep fjords and low-lying grassland.
Days8-10: South Georgia
The exact itinerary will depend on local land and sea conditions but the following destinations are among those that are likely to be explored:
Salisbury Plain, a wildlife site without parallel. Several large glaciers provide a dramatic backdrop for the tens of thousands of king penguins that nest in the tussac grass of this remarkable ecosystem. Elephant and fur seals also abound, as well as southern giant petrels and the occasional wandering gentoo penguin.
Prion Island, a beautiful tussac-grass covered islet. If you are lucky there should be a chance to see a breeding colony of wandering albatross on top of it.
Grytviken, a sheltered harbour tucked between Hope Point and Hobart Rock on the western shore of Cumberland East Bay. Now the site of the South Georgia Museum, the station remains a focal point of interest for many visitors, as does Sir Ernest Shackleton´s grave in the nearby whaler´s cemetery. The scenery in this area is exceptionally beautiful even by South Georgia standards.
Godhul, situated nine kilometres east of Cumberland East Bay on the eastern shores of Barff Peninsula. Gentoo penguins are abundant on the tussac plateau and light-mantled sooty albatrosses echo off the natural cliff amphitheater that encircles the harbour.
St Andrews Bay, a three kilometre long uninterrupted sweep of fine dark sand, covered in penguins and seals. The bay hosts the biggest colony of king Penguins on South Georgia. Leopard seals patrol the rocks at this end of the beach too, hunting for penguins along the edge of kelp beds.
Cooper Bay, at the southeast extremity of South Georgia. There is a wealth of wildlife at this site, in a spectacular setting. Chinstrap, gentoo and maybe one or two macaroni penguins.
Drygalski Fjord, also located in the far south east of the island. The glaciers found in this dramatic fjord have retreated significantly in recent decades, but they still remain one of the most striking features of this coastline.
Days11-12: At sea
Spend the next two days crossing the Scotia Sea towards the Antarctic Peninsula, offering opportunities to be out on deck, catch up on some reading, check through and edit your photos, or simply reflect on the magical experiences of the last days on South Georgia. Lectures and other activities will be offered throughout these days.
Day13: Elephant Island, South Shetland Islands
The intention today is to visit the enigmatic Elephant Island. Sir Ernest Shackleton fans will need no introduction to this historic windswept island. In 1916 Shackleton was forced to leave 22 of his men stranded on these shores, while he and five others embarked on an unbelievable last-ditch rescue attempt. What followed is one of the greatest rescue stories of all time. Every passenger will return with a greater knowledge of this gripping tale of adventure in a truly remarkable part of the world.
Day14: At sea
Days15-17: Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands
Sail the passage to the east side of the Antarctic Peninsula, which traverses the Antarctic Sound and runs northwest-to-southeast. Hope Bay and the Argentine Station Esperanza are located on the western side of the Sound.
You will visit Paulet Island where the numbers of penguins are breathtaking, and then sail through the Gerlache Strait into the Northwest Antarctic Peninsula area.
At Hydrurga Rocks, you will find chinstrap penguins, blue-eyed shags and kelp gulls, and then at Cuverville Island a well-defined raised beach forms a nesting site for many gentoo penguins.
On the way north the plan is to explore the South Shetland Islands. Deception Island is the largest of three recent volcanic centres in the South Shetlands. Sailing through the narrow passage into the flooded caldera of Deception Island is truly amazing. The crescent-shaped island of Half Moon is home to chinstrap penguins in breathtaking surroundings.
Days18-19: At sea
You leave Antarctica and head north across the Drake Passage. You can join the lecturers and naturalists on deck as they search for seabirds and whales. You will also enjoy some final lectures. Take the chance to relax and reflect on the fascinating adventures you have had over the past days.
Day20: Arrive at Ushuaia and disembark
You should note: Exact itinerary and duration will depend on your chosen vessel, departure date and local conditions.
Duration and price excluding international flights: 15-20 daysfrom £10,655 pp
Group size: Varies according to vessel
When to go: Nov-Mar
Departures: Please contact us for departure date details.
South Georgia is a remote, rugged and hauntingly beautiful sub-Antarctic island. Its scenery ranges from impressive mountains and mighty glaciers to deep fjords and low-lying grassland. Renowned as an excellent birdwatching destination, it has more wildlife than virtually anywhere else on the planet.
Ideal for viewing: wandering albatross, elephant seal, king penguin, macaroni penguin, sperm whale
Excellent for: Wildlife cruises, Wildlife festivals, Photography tours with Nick Garbutt, Penguin watching, Birdwatching
The Antarctic Peninsula is the most accessible part of the great white continent with some of its best wildlife and scenery. Ice-choked waterways, sculpted icebergs, imposing glaciers and rugged mountains provide the back drop to an area with more whales and dolphins than anywhere else on earth.
The South Shetland Islands are situated north of the Antarctic Peninsula. Most of the land is permanently glaciated, yet, despite the harsh conditions, the islands do support a large variety of seals, penguins – including Adelie and chinstrap - and seabirds – including Antarctic terns and giant petrels.
Ideal for viewing: Adélie penguin, elephant seal, chinstrap penguin, gentoo penguin, southern right whale
Named after the survey vessel on which Horatio Nelson served, the island avoided introducing cats and rats, therefore the wildlife has no predators and are approachable. Devil’s Nose is home to 2,000 breeding pairs of blackbrowed albatross and 500 pairs of rockhopper penguins, an amazing sight.
Where: West Point Islands
Ideal for viewing: elephant seal, gentoo penguin, king cormorant, magellanic penguin, striated caracara
Excellent for: Penguin watching, Birdwatching
The islands’ capital is located on East Falkland around a picturesque harbour, and is a lively small, historic town, with a distinctly British feel. It’s a pleasant place to relax or perhaps visit nearby sites such as Volunteer Point, with its large colonies of king, Magellanic and gentoo penguins.
Where: East Falkland
Excellent for: City stopover
This itinerary is available on the following
The Akademik Sergey Vavilov is an ice-strengthened vessel which started life in Finland as a scientific research vessel, and has since been refitted and refurbished to sail the Polar seas. The ship’s bridge is an excellent place from which to view wildlife, and the on board hot tub is a great addition!
An extremely comfortable and well-equipped Polar expedition vessel, Ocean Nova is one of the leading vessels classified to operate in ice-filled waters. Accommodating around 60 passengers, cabins are outside facing and there is an excellent glass-enclosed forward observation lounge on the top deck.