With more than 30 species of seabirds including four species of penguins, South Georgia is often referred to as the Galapagos of the Poles. If you consider yourself a wildlife enthusiast or history buff, then this expedition is the perfect adventure for you! On this expedition you will witness massive numbers of polar wildlife, spectacular scenery and historically significant sites from early explorations to the Antarctic region.
• Experience the quintessential wildlife experience of the “Galapagos of the poles” with over 30 species of breeding birds, including four species of penguin;
• Visit South Georgia King Penguin rookeries – the largest in the world;
• Reflect for a moment at the resting place of the great explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton;
• Visit abandoned whaling stations and learn stories of inhabitants who called this island home
Ushuaia lays claim to the title of southernmost city in the world. This is your gateway city for the expedition to South Georgia. Home to around 63,000 Argentineans, there are plentiful hiking and adventure activities nearby as well as souvenir and outdoor gear shops to keep you busy in Ushuaia before or after your voyage.
You will embark in the late afternoon, after which the vessel will sail down the historic Beagle Channel on your way out to the open sea. Think of the Beagle Channel as the tasty appetizer before your main course arrives. You will want to get out on deck and keep your eyes peeled - there are several bird species here that will capture your attention and give your photography skills a test.
The Expedition Team will keep you busy by testing your knowledge of seabirds, penguins and history of South Georgia as they begin their educational lecture program Your first days will include time to get acquainted with fellow travelers and learning about the shore landings, Zodiac excursions and kayaking opportunities that await you in South Georgia.
The first indication that you are approaching South Georgia is the sighting of birds around a group of rocky spires called Shag Rocks. Rising out of the icy ocean waters, have your binoculars and cameras ready to photograph these rocks.
After enjoying South Georgia from a distance, we’ll head towards its dark sandy beaches to find a protected bay to prepare for your first land excursion. Landing sites on South Georgia are varied, and are largely determined by the weather conditions of your voyage. Whatever landing sites we visit, they’ll provide you with wildlife encounters that cannot be enjoyed anywhere else on Earth. This is one of the most fertile breeding grounds in the world for sub-Antarctic wildlife, with beaches littered with penguins - in particular king and macaroni penguins. Many rookeries number into the hundreds of thousands! It won’t take you long to realize that South Georgia is a paradise for bird lovers as burrowing seabirds, albatross and petrels can all be seen in abundance.
A couple of landings that best represent what you can expect in South Georgia are Gold Harbor and Cooper Bay. Perhaps the most picturesque site in all of South Georgia, Gold Harbor provides a dizzying amount of wildlife all in one location. It will enchant you with a view of the overhanging Bertrab Glacier to the east, a massive King penguin colony in the distance, an abundance of southern elephant seals and fur seals, as well as nesting albatross high above in the tussock grass. Not to be outdone, Cooper Bay at the southern end of South Georgia will bring you close to a macaroni penguin rookery, before you sail off for a scenic cruise through Drygalski Fjord.
You’ll find that South Georgia is also scattered with abandoned relics and evidence of human activity from centuries gone by. Once a popular base for whalers and sealers, Captain James Cook first reported on the abundance of wildlife here in 1775. His report resulted in an almost complete decimation of fur seals and a drastic decline in both whale and elephant seal populations. Your Expedition Team will help bring those days to life for you, as you’ll visit old whaling stations and enjoy lectures and presentations on the South Georgia of then and now. Thankfully, you’ll witness that many species have seen a remarkable population rebound on the island.
One of the most significant sites you will visit on the island is located on Grytviken. This is one of the first whaling stations established in sub-Antarctic waters. Many travelers find this place of special appeal as it is home to the remains of one of the best known Antarctic explorers, Sir Ernest Shackleton.
Linking past and present, one landing we’ll attempt during the voyage is on the eastern shore of Fortuna Bay. Landing here, you’ll set out for the ‘Shackleton Hike’, a hike that joins the final miles of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s traverse of South Georgia into Stromness whaling station.
Your return crossing will be time to reminisce about the incredible sights and sounds you’ve witnessed on South Georgia. Sharing laughs and enjoying a final drink with your shipmates and our Expedition Team are the perfect way to bring your South Georgia adventure to a close.
After breakfast, you’ll disembark the ship and are free to explore Ushuaia or take a complimentary transfer to the airport for your homeward flights.
* Itinerary may be subject to change
Sea Spirit Deck Plan
SPECIAL EXPEDITION DECK PLAN: