South Georgia Grand Tour

From Puerto Madryn to Ushuaia
  • All Antarctic Cruises
  • South Georgia & The Falkland Islands
  • Small Ship Cruising
  • Wildlife and Nature
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Tour Description

Few places compare to South Georgia in terms of exotic wildlife and jaw-dropping scenery. This 18 day expedition cruise will allow you plenty of time to explore South Georgia in depth. 

South Georgia is home to some of the largest king penguin and elephant seal breeding grounds on Earth, as well as day after day of breathtaking landscapes. You will have days to explore the coastlines and make shore landings by zodiac. Visits may include; Salisbury Plain, St. Andrews Bay, Gold Harbour, which are three of the largest breeding beaches for southern elephant seals in the world and home to three of the largest king penguin colonies in South Georgia. Also, Prion Island, home of the great wandering albatrosses, Grytviken, an abandoned whaling station,  where king penguins now walk the streets, Fortuna Bay, to perhaps follow the final leg of Shackleton’s route to the abandoned whaling village of Stromness. Other visits could include: King Haakon Bay, Leith Harbour, Stromness, Husvik, Cobblers Cove, Godthul, Copper Bay,  or Royal Bay (Moltke Harbour, Will Point & Brisbane Point). 

This voyage is perfect for those who have already been to Antarctica, but missed South Georgia, or simply for lovers of wildlife and remote destinations!

Viva's Best Bits...

Delve into the fascinating history of South Georgia -abandoned whaling stations, perhaps South Georgia Museum as well as Shackleton’s grave.

Wildlife galore: see some of the biggest breeding spots for king penguins and elephant seals on Earth

"Perfect for those that have been to Antarctica and regretted not including South Georgia, or simply if you want to be able to explore this remote region in depth!" Tara, Team Viva

Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Puerto Madryn

You embark from Puerto Madryn in the afternoon, your prow aimed for the Falkland Islands. Golfo Nuevo is renowned for its visiting southern right whales, so you have a good chance of spotting one as you sail toward the open ocean.

Day 2-3
At Sea, sea life, sea birds

Though you’re now at sea, there’s rarely a lonesome moment here. Several species of bird follow the vessel southeast, such as albatrosses, storm petrels, shearwaters, and diving petrels.

Day 4-5
Finding the Falklands

The Falkland Islands offer an abundance of wildlife that is easily approachable, though caution is always advised. These islands are largely unknown gems with a wealth of bird life, including many endemic species. The waters of the Falklands are also rich with sea life, including southern sea lions and elephant seals. There is a good chance to see both Peale’s dolphins and Commerson’s dolphins.

During this segment of the voyage, we aim to visit the following two sites:

Steeple Jason – Home to the world’s largest black-browed albatross colony (roughly 113,000), Steeple Jason is a wild and rarely visited island buffeted by wind and waves. Weather and swell conditions dictate the journey here.

Carcass Island – Despite its name, this island is pleasantly rodent-free and hence bounteous with birdlife and many endemic species. Anything from breeding Magellanic penguins and gentoos to numerous waders and passerine birds (including Cobb’s wrens and tussock-birds) live here.

Other sites that we may offer as an alternative:

Saunders Island – On Saunders Island you can see the black-browed albatross and its sometimes-clumsy landings, along with breeding imperial shags and rockhopper penguins. King penguins, Magellanic penguins, and gentoos are also found here.

Westpoint Island – Landing in a small cove near the island's house, you will be able to walk through the tussac grass and an abundant breeding colony of black-browed albatrosses, where they live side by side with rockhopper penguins.

Grave Cove – Nesting gentoo penguins and excellent hiking opportunities abound here, with the chance to enjoy great scenery and wildlife.

Day 6-7
Once more to sea

En route to South Georgia, you now cross the Antarctic Convergence. The temperature cools considerably within the space of a few hours, and nutritious water rises to the surface of the sea due to colliding water columns. This phenomenon attracts a multitude of seabirds near the ship, including several species of albatross, shearwaters, petrels, prions, and skuas.

Day 8
Shag Rocks

Today we reach the Shag Rocks, a group of six islands surrounded by nutrient-rich waters that offer great feeding grounds for numerous birds and whales. The islands are named after the South Georgian shag, known for its bright blue eyes and yellow beak patch.

Day 9-13
South Georgia

In our tour of South Georgia’s breathtaking wildlife and scenery, we may visit the following sites. Please keep in mind that weather conditions in this area can be challenging, largely dictating the program.

Sites you might visit include:

Salisbury Plain, St. Andrews Bay, Gold Harbour – These sites not only house the three largest king penguin colonies in South Georgia, they’re also three of the world’s largest breeding beaches for southern elephant seals. Only during this time of year do they peak in their breeding cycle. Watch the four-ton bulls keep a constant vigil (and occasionally fight) over territories where dozens of females have just given birth or are about to deliver. You can also see a substantial number of Antarctic fur seals here during the breeding season (December – January).

Fortuna Bay – This beautiful outwash plain from Fortuna Glacier is home to a large number of king penguins and seals. You may have the chance to follow the final leg of Shackleton’s route to the abandoned whaling village of Stromness. This path cuts across the mountain pass beyond Shackleton’s Waterfall, and as the terrain is partly swampy, be prepared to cross a few small streams.

Leith Harbour, Stromness, Husvik – These sites remind us of the scale of the whaling industry in the early 20th century. Elephant and fur seals breed and moult here. Gentoo penguins also occupy the landing sites. Antarctic prions and South Georgia dive petrels may be observed, especially in the area of Husvik.

Grytviken – In this abandoned whaling station, king penguins walk the streets and elephant seals lie around like they own the place – because they basically do. Here you might be able to see the South Georgia Museum as well as Shackleton’s grave.

Cobblers Cove, Godthul – Here we will try to visit Rookery Point to see macaroni penguins. We might also encounter giant petrels, gentoo penguins, seals, and light-mantled sooty albatrosses nesting along the coastline. Godthul (Norwegian for “good cove”) was named by Norwegian whalers and seal hunters.

Royal Bay (Moltke Harbour, Will Point & Brisbane Point) – Moltke Harbour in Royal Bay was named by the German International Polar Year Expedition in 1882, and some of the remains of their dwellings are still visible. The scenery of Royal Bay is amazing, with dark sandy beaches, green tussocks, and of course, the great Ross Glacier. It may be windy here, but the Zodiac cruising is spectacular. Roughly 30,000 pairs of king penguins also live in this area.

Cooper Bay – A Zodiac cruise in Cooper Bay offers a good chance to see macaroni penguins, gentoo penguins, and one of the world’s largest chinstrap penguin rookeries. Fur and elephant seals may be seen on the beach, while we might also spot light-mantled sooty albatrosses gliding overhead. Antarctic terns, white-chinned petrels, and blue-eyed shags are possible here too.

Drygalski Fjord – This narrow waterway offers spectacular landscapes, specifically high mountain peaks at a very close distance.

Annenkov Island – Passing Pickersgill Islands, we reach the rarely visited Annenkov Island, first discovered by James Cook in 1775 and later renamed by the Russian expedition of Fabian von Bellingshausen in 1819. This is a rocky terrain with a variety of ridges, peaks, and hills where fossils have been found.

King Haakon Bay – Few Antarctic locations are more steeped in expedition history than this one. British explorer Ernest Shackleton reached King Haakon Bay during his arduous open-boat voyage from Elephant Island, where his crew was stranded after sea ice crushed their ship. Elephant seals dominate these rugged beaches, and birdwatchers should keep a lookout for South Georgia pipits, Antarctic prions, common diving petrels, and blue petrels.

Day 14-17
Westward bound

South polar skuas and snow petrels could join the albatrosses trailing our vessel during these sea days, and we may also encounter sea ice. When we reach the Drake Passage, you will be again greeted by the vast array of seabirds remembered from the passage south.

Day 18
Ushuaia

You arrive and disembark in Ushuaia, commonly held to be the world’s most southern city. It is located on the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, nicknamed the “End of the World.” But despite this stopping point, the wealth of memories you’ve made on your Antarctic expedition will travel with you wherever your next adventure lies.

What’s Included

Accommodation
  • Included Copy 20 17 nights accommodation onboard
  • Included Copy 31 Cabin upgrades available
Food
  • Included Copy 20 All meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea.
Fees & Services
  • Included Copy 20 All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac.
  • Included Copy 20 Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff.
  • Included Copy 20 Free use of rubber boots and snowshoes.
  • Included Copy 20 Photo workshop
  • Included Copy 20 All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the programme.
  • Included Copy 20 Comprehensive pre-departure material.
  • Included Copy 7 Any airfare, whether on scheduled or charter flights, any visas
  • Included Copy 7 Gratuities, laundry, additional drinks, travel insurance
Transportation

MV Hondius | Arctic & Antarctic Cruise Ship

176 + 72 Staff & Crew Passengers

Activities

  • Included Zodiac crusing
  • Included Shore based landings, walks
  • Included Visit Penguin colonies: chinstrap, gentoo, macaroni, king
  • Included Seabirds - albatross, shearwaters, petrels, prions, and skuas.
  • Included Visit the world’s largest breeding beaches for southern elephant seals.
  • Included Photo workshops
  • Included Witness jaw-dropping scenery
  • Included Onboard presentations
  • Included Learn about the fascinating history of South Georgia
Click here for dates & prices
Duration

18 days

Price from

$11,350 USD

Per person, sharing

Based On Lowest Cabin

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