South Georgia in Depth
Punta Arenas to Punta Arenas
15 days/14 nights
South Georgia has rightly been called ‘the most staggering wildlife show on earth’. After our in depth exploration, we are certain you will agree. Traditionally, our visits to South Georgia last only three or four days and are part of a much longer itinerary that includes time spent in Falkland Islands and Antarctica, but, after many years of careful preparation and planning, we can now offer our guests the unique opportunity of ten full days of exploration – more than double the time traditionally spent in South Georgia. For lovers of remote, small-ship expedition cruising, this voyage ticks every box you could possibly imagine.
Day 1 / Punta Arenas, Chile to Port Stanley, Falkland Islands
Our journey commences this morning in the southern Chilean city of Punta Arenas. We meet at a central location and transfer to the airport for our scheduled service to Stanley in the Falkland Islands (this flight is included in the price of your voyage). After a short 90-minute flight we are met on arrival and transferred to the pier. There is time to explore the town, before we make our way to the ship for embarkation. Excitement is in the air as we enjoy a welcome cocktail, dinner and cast off, bound for South Georgia – and the adventure of a lifetime.
Days 2 – 3 / At sea
We chart a southeasterly course bound for South Georgia. This stretch of the South Atlantic is rich in its biodiversity and showcases an abundance of astonishing wildlife. We will be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross. Photographing these magnificent birds from the deck of the ship takes patience and skill and our photography expert will be on hand to show you the best techniques. Throughout the day our onboard experts educate us with a series of presentations about the environment, wildlife and history and the locations we hope to visit in the coming days. History is a key theme of this voyage and the epic story of Shackleton is central to our journey.
Days 4 – 7 / King Haakon Bay and the Northwest Coast, South Georgia
These next ten days will be unlike anything you have ever imagined. We begin our exploration on the southern coastline. We hope to navigate the ship into the very historic location of King Haakon Bay. It was here that Shackleton and his men made landfall in their small lifeboat – the James Caird, after completing the perilous ocean crossing from Elephant Island, 100 years ago. This is a very dramatic place, visited by just a handful of ships each season.
One of the most anticipated sites in South Georgia is Salisbury Plain. The black sand beaches and tussock covered dunes are home staggering abundance of king penguin adults and their young. The rookery is believed to have a population of up to 100,000 adult and juvenile penguins. As we continue our journey further down the coastline of South Georgia we visit several beautiful locations including Prion Island, in the Bay of Isles. This island has been designated as a ‘Specially Protected Area’ by the South Georgia Government, due to the breeding wandering albatross colonies at this location.
Days 8 – 9 / Fortuna Bay, Stromness, Grytviken and central North Coast
Our adventure takes us next to Fortuna Bay, a majestic three-mile long and one-mile wide fjord. Here we can expect to see king penguins and elephant seals and may spot light-mantled sooty albatross, which are known to nest in the area. They are spectacular birds with magnificent plumage. This area is key to the Shackleton story and it was here, in 1916, that Shackleton and his companions, Worsley and Crean arrived after their epic crossing from King Haakon Bay on the south coast. This is after having completed their 800- mile journey by small boat from Elephant Island. If the weather co-operates, we hope to be able to hike the last few miles across the saddle separating Fortuna Bay from neighboring Stromness, in the footsteps of Shackleton and his men. As we journey further to the southeast we enter the broad expanse of Cumberland Bay. At the head of the bay lies Grytviken – the largest of the old whaling stations on South Georgia. A highlight of our landing here is a visit to the gravesite of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his loyal right hand man, Frank Wild.
Days 10 – 13 / St Andrews Bay, Gold Harbour and Southeast Coast
Our next few days will take us to St Andrew’s Bay and Gold Harbor – places that are teeming with wildlife including fur seals, elephant seals and massive colonies of the colorful king penguins. As with all of our landings we will exercise every opportunity possible to explore on foot, as much or as little as you like. Gold Harbor is so called because the sun’s rays make the cliffs yellow with their light in the morning and evening.
It’s an exhilarating location. Drygalski Fjord at the far eastern extremity of the island has been called one of the most spectacular sites in South Georgia and we think you will agree. If it is calm enough you can hear the glacier calving large chunks of ice, reminders of what early sealers, whalers and vessels needed to pay close attention to. Our visit to this
breathtaking place is a fitting way to complete our journey. Tonight, as we reflect on ten epic days of exploration, we chart a course for South America and the most southerly city in the world – Ushuaia.
Days 14 – 16 / Return to South America (Ushuaia)
Our final days are spent catching up on journal entries, or perhaps downloading and reviewing photos in the multi-media room with our photography expert. For some, it’s a chance to catch some well-earned rest after a busy 10 days of exploration.
* Day 15 / Port Stanley, Falkland Islands
In the early morning we arrive to Port Stanley. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travellers. After disembarkation all passengers will be taken to the airport to take the flight back to Punta Arenas.
**Day 17 / Ushuaia, Argentina
In the early morning, we arrive into Ushuaia, Argentina for this departure. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travellers. Guests will be transported to their hotels or to the airport for return flights home.
** 15-31 October 2016 Punta Arenas to Ushuaia departure includes flight to Port Stanley.
* 28 January-11 February 2017 Punta Arenas to Punta Arenas departure includes flights from/to Port Stanley.
We are very proud to offer one of the best sea kayaking programs ever!!! Whether you are an experienced kayaker or you want to try it for the first time, this activity will allow you to enjoy another side of this magnificent destination.
Price per person: U$S 795
Hiking in the Polar Regions
Antarctica is everything you imagined it would be. Images of snow, ice, mountains and glaciers dominate our ideas of what we will experience on a voyage to Antarctica. We will introduce you to a new view of Antarctica! On every voyage, we will plan to offer hikes for the more active traveller. This will not happen on every excursion, however with our extensive experience in the peninsula region, we have some good hikes in mind for each voyage.
Throughout our voyage, there will be numerous opportunities to photograph and capture truly wonderful moments, fluting whales, diving penguins, soaring albatross and rather rotund beached seals to name a few! From multimedia presentations to group workshops on the outer decks or in a Zodiac, our on board photographer will offer advice and instruction. He/she will be available to work with you and encourage you to look at scenes or events in a different way in order to capture them as best as possible.
Read more about Photography in the Pola Regions
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Should you wish to simplify packing, we are proud to offer a full complement of outdoor expedition gear for you on board. Free of charge is a foul weather gear package and wellington boots. These ‘wet skins’ are coated in waterproof PVC and include a jacket with full hood, soft comfortable collar and storm flap over the zipper. The jacket has ample pockets and finishes below the hip offering full wind protection. Paired with the jacket are bib and braces with reinforced seat and knees and adjustable ankle cuffs. We have a selection of sizes including XS, S, M, L, XL, and XXL.
Roll-top waterproof knapsacks and Bushnell® binoculars are all available for hire at nominal fee.
We have a Wellness program on the ship which includes a gym, sauna, hot tub, massage room and plunge pool for icy dips if you so wish! Early morning stretching and yoga sessions followed by healthy breakfast are a great way to start your expedition day.
Proof of our Polar Commitment
When traveling with Ice Tracks Expeditions, you will discover how much we care about the places and people we visit. We demonstrate this by finding ways to give back as well as taking away so many incredible memories.
Read more about our Giving Back Program.