If you have time and wildlife and Antarctic history are your focus for an Antarctic Adventure then a Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica voyage may be your trip of a lifetime! You will need at least 3 weeks for this Antarctic vacation as ship time can be between 17 – 20 days. For birders or soon to be birders adding to your life list four additional species of penguins and the chance to see nesting black-browed and wandering albatross makes this an exciting itinerary. For History buffs the legend of Sir Ernest Shackleton awaits you, and for those that come for the scenery there is never disappointment!
Imagine yourself at a rookery of 200,000 King penguins! Their silver gray backs and orange markings blend together to create an abstract moving image of color and sound. At first glance they seem tightly packed together but they are standing just out of pecking distance from one another. As you sit and watch one penguin begins its long trek through the rookery to go to sea but it first must endure the multiple pecks and jabs of its neighbors as it passes by.
Early explorers actually thought that the King penguin chicks were a different species. Their heavy brown down looks a bit like a raccoon coat. No matter when you go you will find chicks in some state of fledging their feathers. Perhaps if you are lucky you will see a chick on its parent’s feet or and egg exchange. It is never a dull moment at a rookery with lots of greeting behaviors or predators like skuas hoping to steal an egg or a small chick.
In addition to the King penguins there are Rockhoppers and Magellanic penguins that aren’t seen on the Antarctic Peninsula. The Macaroni penguins in South Georgia nest high up and it is quite a trek to their rookery. There are 6 Macaroni penguins at Hannah Point in Antarctica but it is not always easy to make that landing. So your best opportunity for up close and personal Macaroni viewing is a voyage that includes South Georgia.
While at sea you have an opportunity to watch the amazing sea birds but you never really have a true sense of their size until you see them onshore. With luck you will be able to catch a glimpse of a black browed albatross feeding its chick or watch as a returning parent greets its mate.
If you are really lucky you may land on Prion Island and visit a wandering albatross nesting area. When you see these giant birds from the ship you know they are large compared to the other birds flying around them but watching them in mating dance, sitting on a nest or coming in for a landing is an awesome experience!
For the history buffs a visit to South Georgia is packed with Shackleton history. There may be a chance to pay your respects to “The Boss’s” grave at Grytviken. If conditions permit many voyages offer a chance to retrace Shackleton’s final steps back to Stromness Whaling station with a hike from Fortuna Bay – you can image his efforts to rescue the crew of the Endurance.
Perhaps it’s mammals that interest you. South Georgia has an abundance of fur seals roaming the beaches. You may encounter a wallow of elephant seals and be treated to a bit of body jousting as tempers flare. There is always a chance that a herd of reindeer may thunder by while you are roaming the landing sight.
But no matter what your wildlife interest, the scenery is always spectacular! The Falklands, South Georgia, Antarctica voyage scenery is the most varied from the green tussock grass in the Sub-Antarctic islands to the blue tinted ice of the Antarctic.
Let Polar Cruises help you plan a fantastic Antarctic vacation that truly is a trip of a lifetime!
Blog post by Sharon Keating