Once aboard our comfortable expedition cruise ship, we depart from Ushuaia (the world’s southernmost city) for the Falklands. This windswept archipelago is home to a handful of sheep farmers and a British military base, but is most famous amongst naturalists for its sub-Antarctic wildlife. We will visit the charming capital, Port Stanley, but the bulk of our time will be spent exploring the impressive seabird colonies of the remote outer islands. We expect to see Rockhopper, Gentoo and Magellanic Penguin rookeries, and colonies of regal Black-browed Albatross and Blue-eyed Shags.
Amongst the land birds, we will watch especially for the characterful Striated Caracara, Blackish Cinclodes, the scarce Canary-winged Finch and endemic Cobb’s Wren. Mammals are also a feature and, with luck, we’ll encounter South American Sea Lion and the attractive Commerson’s Dolphin.
Thereafter, we steam to the breathtakingly beautiful island of South Georgia. This rugged island boasts mighty glaciers, snow-covered mountains, deep fjords and emerald green bays. We will explore the village of Grytviken, formerly a whaling station. On the island, we will have the opportunity to visit vast, crowded nesting colonies of the magnificent King Penguin, the world’s second largest species, in addition to colonies of Macaroni Penguins, and nesting sites of the exquisite Light-mantled and regal Wandering Albatross. Huge Southern Elephant Seals dominate the beaches and Antarctic Fur Seals abound. After our mind-boggling experiences in South Georgia we set sail for the remote South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula itself. If sea conditions allow we will land at Elephant Island en route to the Shetlands. This island is most well-known as the refuge site of Shackleton’s crew who, in 1916, were stranded here for four months. Colonies of Gentoo, Adelie and Chinstrap Penguins inhabit the island.
Our voyage then takes us through the Bransfield Strait and we will set foot on the White Continent at the aptly named Paradise Bay. More penguin colonies will entertain us here, as Antarctic Terns and elegant Snow Petrels hover overhead and Snowy Sheathbills scavenge the seal and penguin rookeries. We will navigate the Lemaire Channel, one of the most spectacular waterways known to man. This is a narrow passage between sheer cliffs that plummet directly into the sea, and photographic opportunities of towering icebergs and sculpted sea ice are second to none.
We will also visit Deception Island, an active volcano off the Antarctic Peninsula. After landing at Whaler’s Bay, we disembark and walk to the world’s largest rookery of Chinstrap Penguins, with an estimated 100,000 breeding pairs. Thereafter, we begin our return across the Drake Passage. These waters offer some of the world’s most exciting sea birding and should produce numerous albatross species, giant petrels, diving petrels, shear waters and prions – even the legendary Emperor Penguin is a possibility! Finally we disembark at Ushuaia, with the splendor of the Antarctic deeply embedded in our memories forever!
Classic Antarctica – The Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctica : 20 Nov - 08 Dec 2012; 28 Dec 2012 - 15 Jan 2013 (19 days) - from $10350
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Antarctica Antarctica Falkland Islands Nature & Wildlife Birdwatching Wildlife Viewing
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