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South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula: Penguin Safari

Day 1 — Buenos Aires, Argentina

You may arrive in Buenos Aires at any time during Day 1 of the itinerary. Upon your arrival in this splendid city, known for its rich architecture and European heritage, you will independently transfer to the group hotel (pre-night hotel included).

Day 2 — Ushuaia, Argentina and Embarkation

After breakfast at the hotel, the group will transfer to the airport and board our private charter flight to Ushuaia, Argentina.

Upon arrival, you will have a little time to explore this quaint port town before heading to the pier.

Embarkation will occur in the late afternoon, after which your vessel will sail down the historic Beagle Channel. This famous channel transects the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in the extreme south of South America. 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 open as there are several bird species to capture your attention and test your photography skills.

Days 3 to 5 — At Sea

The Expedition Team will keep you busy by testing your knowledge of seabirds, penguins and the 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.

Days 6 to 8 — 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. Shags and prions often rest here.

After enjoying South Georgia from a distance, we’ll head towards its sandy beaches to find a protected bay for your first land excursion. Landing sites on South Georgia are varied, and are largely determined by the weather conditions of your voyage. Whichever 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 100s 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 be seen in abundance.

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.

Days 9 and 10 — At Sea

Antarctica awaits, along with its own penguin and seal species. While you’re at sea, you can enjoy quiet time or take in presentations by the Expedition Team, which will cover everything from the history and geology of Antarctica to tips on identifying different species and what makes each of them unique.

Days 11 to 13 — Antarctic Peninsula

The most common reaction to arriving at the White Continent is a sense of reverence and awe. The experience is hard to put into words. You will discover that Antarctica is a land of extremes: at one moment you’ll be overcome with a feeling of complete silence and loneliness, the next you’ll be laughing at the comical antics of a curious penguin.

Zodiac cruises, visits to current research bases or abandoned whaling stations and, of course, communing with seals and penguins are sure to keep you smiling each and every day. Perhaps you’ll catch sight of the fearless penguin-eater, the leopard seal, or come eye–to–eye with a curious minke whale while out on a Zodiac. Each day and each landing will present a new collection of creatures to entertain you and keep your camera busy.

If you find yourself wanting more,then perhaps you’ll treat yourself by booking our kayaking Adventure Option (reserve in advance when booking your trip), or if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, a little shock therapy courtesy of a Polar Plunge might be what you need!

Days 14 and 15 — At Sea

After more than a dozen days of memorable wildlife encounters, your journey home begins. Crossing the Drake is your unofficial rite of passage, putting a final stamp of completion on your Antarctic adventure.

Day 16 — Disembark in Ushuaia and Fly to Buenos Aires

We will arrive in Ushuaia in the morning after breakfast. After disembarkation, we will taste a little of Patagonia by touring Tierra del Fuego National Park before we transfer to the airport for the return group charter flight to Buenos Aires.

Important reminder: Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy – and excitement – of expedition travel. There are no guarantees that we can achieve everything we set out to accomplish. A measure of flexibility is something all of us must bring to a voyage. There are nearly 200 recognized sites in the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetlands and the places mentioned above may be changed to others equally as interesting.