THE EPIC ANTARCTICA AND SOUTH GEORGIA ADVENTURE
Next DepartureMar. 18, 2024
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, Kayaking, Lectures, Photography, Wildlife observations, Zodiac
On this epic 18-day voyage, we explore the South Shetlands and the Antarctic continent before heading via the Antarctic Sound and Weddell Sea for an extended South Georgia visit. The adventure ends in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo. On board Ocean Albatros.
Departing from Ushuaia in Argentina, we cross the mighty Drake Passage en route for the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic peninsula. Here we will make Zodiac landings at penguin rookeries, research stations and fascinating lookouts.
Continuing towards the east, we will explore the Antarctic Sound with its mighty tabular icebergs and enter the Weddell Sea in search for wildlife.
Sailing onwards between Elephant Island and South Georgia offers a small glimpse into the passage made famous by Shackleton 100 years ago, when he navigated the 1300 km course through open seas of Drake Passage in an effort to save his stranded crew. South Georgia is one of world’s greatest natural wonders. Wildlife-packed beaches, active research stations, former whaling stations and a visit to Shackleton’s final resting place are on our agenda. This trip has an extended South Georgia itinerary, allowing us to see more than usual.
On our last leg we sail to Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, allowing for easier flights onwards in South America or towards home. The last seadays can be spend bird watching from the top deck and attending lectures, workshops and photo re-caps in one of the ship's lounges.
Onboard our brand new strong ice-strengthened expedition vessel, Ocean Albatros, we are sure to get close to the dramatic coastlines. Zodiac cruising and shore landings are an important and considerable part of the planned itinerary, hopefully enabling all expedition guests to set foot on the Antarctic continent, as well as the many surrounding sub-antarctic and South Georgia islands.
This epic expedition cruise allows you to experience so much pristine nature and varied wildlife!
With the patented X-BOW design, the Ocean Albatros will offer you a smoother sailing across the Drake passage, and due to the speed of the vessels, we might be able to do a first landing or activity in the South Shetland islands during the late afternoon on Day 3.
Make sure you reserve your place, on this fantastic journey in good time, as we only cruise this route once during the season.
ARRIVAL USHUAIA, EMBARKATION
Arrive and embark in Ushuaia, Argentina - the world’s southernmost town. Explore the quaint city or local countryside. Alternatively, consider a day trip off the beaten path to the raw, natural archipelago of Tierra del Fuego. It's a hiker's paradise with rugged snow-capped mountains, glaciers, flower-filled meadows and boggy quagmires. In the afternoon we embark the ship Ocean albatros, our home for the coming days.
Our journey begins as we navigate through the calm waters of the Beagle Channel, a strait in the Tierra del Fuego Archipelago.
AT SEA. DRAKE PASSAGE, SOUTH SHETLAND ISLANDS
Sailing onward, we cross the famed Drake Passage - a body of water that marks the intersection of the cold Antarctic with the warmer Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Drake Passage is known for strong westerly winds, heavy sea, and its nickname ‘The Roaring Fifties’. While this passage may be challenging, you can rest confidently aboard our expedition vessel, which is purpose-built with stabilizers, powerful engines and a highly qualified crew. The most spirited sailors consider Drake Passage a lifetime achievement – and soon you can tick it off on the list yourself!
In the Drake, the excitement builds as Antarctic wildlife comes into view with our first sight of seals, penguins and albatrosses.
Having crossed the Drake, we will start exploring the Antarctic islands of the South Shetland chain and be marveled by the captivating landscapes we will encounter along the way.
With the patented X-BOW design, the Ocean Victory will offer you a smoother sailing across the Drake passage, and due to the speed of the vessel, we might be able to do a first landing or activity in the South Shetland Islands on the afternoon of day 3, weather permitting.
ANTARCTIC PENINSULA AND SOUTH SHETLAND ISLANDS
The next couple of days, we will explore the Antarctic islands of the South Shetland chain as well as the Antarctic peninsula.
Landfalls could include: Deception Island, an extinct volcano with waters warm enough for a polar swim; and Half Moon Island with nesting Wilson's storm petrels and chinstrap penguins.
The itinerary and activities over the next few days depend on weather and ice conditions. The route and shore landings will be determined by the captain and expedition leader and communicated to guests through regularly scheduled briefings.
ANTARCTIC SOUND, WEDDELL SEA AND ELEPHANT ISLAND
Over the coming days, we will begin the exciting Antarctic experience at the very tip of the Continent. During these days in the Antarctic Sound, named in 1902 after the Swedish vessel Antarctic, the captain and the expedition team will keep a watchful eye on the mighty tabular icebergs, born from the floating Larsen Ice Shelf further south. We aim to have both continental and island landings on the shores of Antarctic Sound and Weddell Sea, always on the lookout for some of the unusually large penguin colonies, which have recently been observed.
The Weddell Sea takes its name from the early British explorer James Weddell, who by hunting seals through a break in the ice in 1823 got to the southernmost point at his time. As we enter the Weddell Sea of today, we grow accustomed to giant floating icebergs and witness the sheer quantity of sea ice in these waters. Apart from penguins, the wildlife here includes Weddell and elephant seals and seabirds. Humpbacks feed in the nutrient-rich waters (caused by the upwell of cold water from the ocean depths), so there are opportunities to see whales, as well as the Antarctic’s largest predator, the solitary leopard seal.
Because of the considerable sea ice and enormous bergs in the Weddell Sea, navigation through this remote nature is at the edge of what is possible; your captain and expedition leader are well aware that shifting ice means that no individual part of this area can be guaranteed as accessible at any time, so they will work together to find the most magnificent opportunities. This is part of the wonder of this part of the world, and you'll be visiting an area few humans have ever seen.
From the Weddell Sea we continue our journey into the open sea, just as Ernest Shackleton and his men did more than hundred years ago. Having lost their ship Endurance deep south in the Weddell Sea they moved slowly north on ice floes and later in open lifeboats until they reached Elephant Island. From here started one of the most remarkable boat journeys in the polar history, when Shackleton and five of his men for two weeks navigated the 720 nautical miles to South Georgia to call for recovery of the stranded crew on Elephant Island. We on the other hand will reach the mighty South Georgia after just a few days at sea!
At sea towards South Georgia
Days at sea are great for participating in lectures, photo sessions and recaps, reading books in the ship library and watching the ubiquitous storm petrels and albatrosses from top deck. From photography workshops to lectures on the regions we visit by our knowledgeable expedition team and guest lecturers. Additionally, a raffle or auction onboard usually takes place during this time, to raise funds for charitable organizations focused on global issues and local environmental solutions. In this case, for example, South Georgia Heritage Trust, Whale & Dolphin Conservation, and more. Take this opportunity to give back to the world while educating yourself on the subjects that these organizations support in a fun and enjoyable time.
Exploring South Georgia and its wealth of wildlife
South Georgia has a dramatic setting with glacier-clad rugged mountains. Lying in the Southern Ocean south of the Antarctic convergence, the cold sea is booming with life. The island, often referred to as “The Galapagos of the Poles”, can only be reached by ship. There is no permanent human settlement, but seabirds and seals breed in the millions. The difficulty of getting there and the restrictions to protect the environment, makes South Georgia one of the least-visited tourist destinations in the world. Today the island has been largely left to recover from human over-exploration, resulting in dramatic increases in the number of whales, seals as well as penguin and seabird populations. The itinerary and activities over the next days are largely dependent on the weather and the sea.
The British administration at Grytviken, a former Norwegian whaling station, is also worth a visit. The famed British explorer Ernest Shackleton died in Grytviken on his second visit, and is buried south of the station. The endemic South Georgia pipits and South Georgia pintails may be seen around the buildings.
We will have a chance to visit Salisbury Plain, home to one of the largest king penguin colonies on the island, estimated between 250,000 and 5,000,000. Gentoo penguins, giant petrels and Antarctic prions also breed on the island.
We will explore the fjords of the north coast and take as many shore landings as time and the swelling sea will allow us. The proximity of the possible landing locations usually allow for a very diversified and active itinerary, sure to give us memories for a lifetime.
The marine life around South Georgia is at its most active during March/April, with thousands of whales feeding with ferocity to prepare for their coming migrations. Fur seal pups amass on the shorelines and Albatross chicks are peeking out from the nests. The king penguin chicks will shed their brown feathers and start heading into the ocean, other penguins like gentoo, macaroni and chinstrap will also see their chicks starting to grow confidence for a life on their own.
AT SEA TOWARD SOUTH AMERICA. MONTEVIDEO, DISEMBARKATION
We are now into the last leg of this adventurous voyage, heading to Uruguays capital of Montevideo.
After a hearty farewell to vessel and crew, we disembark in the morning after breakfast.
• 18-day/17-night cruise with accommodation in a shared outside double stateroom with private facilities
• Shuttle transfers to ship from city centre (Ushuaia)
• All Zodiac landings and excursions as per itinerary
• Expedition parka
• Rubber boot rentals
• Guiding and lectures by our expedition leader and team
• Special Photo Workshop
• English-speaking expedition team
• Visual Journal link after voyage including voyage log, gallery, maps, species list and more!
• Full board on the ship - breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon snacks
• Free tea and coffee 24 hours’ daily
• Welcome and farewell cocktails
Please keep in mind, the itinerary and outdoor activities during each voyage are solely dependent on weather and operational conditions to ensure the safety and quality of experience of our guests. The route and shore landings will be determined by the captain and expedition leader and communicated to guests through regularly scheduled briefings. Albatros Expeditions reserves the right to modify the landings and locations visited during a voyage based on weather and local conditions and climate to ensure a safe and delightful experience for all our guests and staff. Our trips are expeditionary in nature, and thus changes to timings are common place due to the environment we operate in as well as wildlife opportunities and locations.