Set out on an epic voyage to the remote lands first explored by Ernest Shackleton. Traveling aboard the ice-class expedition ships, National Geographic Explorer and National Geographic Orion, spend six days discovering the icy wonders of the Antarctic Peninsula. Stroll through lively crowds of penguins in stunning South Georgia, and hike the rocky shores of the Falkland Islands. Experience boundless wildlife and captivating beauty as you venture into some of the planet’s most unspoiled landscapes.
Depart Miami on an overnight flight to Argentina. Check into your hotel before setting out on an afternoon tour of the city. Then gather for a welcome reception and dinner.
Caesar Park Hotel (D)
Fly to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, and enjoy lunch on a catamaran cruise of the Beagle Channel. Then set sail on the National Geographic Explorer or the National Geographic Orion.
While crossing the Drake Passage, keep a lookout for seabirds and other marine life that glide alongside our ship. The passage, with its spectacular seascapes, is usually quite breathtaking, especially if we spot whales.
With nearly 24 hours of daylight at this time of year, we make the most of our six days exploring the Antarctic Peninsula and the surrounding islands. In keeping with the nature of an expedition, our schedule is flexible, allowing us to take advantage of the unexpected—pausing to watch whales off the bow, taking an after-dinner Zodiac cruise or an extra landing during the day. Those interested may have the opportunity to kayak.
We anticipate making several landings each day in Zodiacs to explore this vast land. Depending on weather and sea conditions, we plan to make some or all of the following stops:
The bay is aptly named because the surrounding mountains look as though they rise straight to heaven. Stretch your legs on a hike to a nearby summit for a breathtaking view, or slip into a kayak to quietly paddle along a cliffside rookery in search of blue-eyed shags.
Lemaire Channel and Petermann Island
Cruise through the narrow Lemaire Channel between towering snow-covered mountains and spectacular blue icebergs. Step ashore at Petermann Island to the cries of thousands of gentoo penguins that stand along the coast as if awaiting your arrival.
Drop anchor in beautiful Neko Harbor. Enjoy an up close encounter with the penguins on the beach or climb high onto an ice field for a panoramic vista of untouched peaks surrounding this idyllic bay.
Historic Port Lockroy
The great French explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot named Port Lockroy a century ago. In 1944 the British government instituted the top-secret expedition code-named Operation Tabarin, creating a series of base stations in Antarctica. Base A, at Port Lockroy, was the first and now serves as a museum and Antarctica's only public post office where we can send mail to be postmarked in Antarctica.
Skirt Elephant Island, the speck of land where the Endurance and its legendary captain Ernest Shackleton finally landed on April 24, 1916. From here, he and a crew of five men set sail in a 22-foot wooden sailboat on a 700-mile voyage across the Southern Ocean—a journey that became one of the most incredible stories of survival at sea. As we make our way east, enjoy time to read, take advantage of the spa and the fitness center, or just relax and watch the magical scenery pass by.
As we sail around the Scotia Sea, search the horizon for seabirds and look out for humpback and southern right whales. Enjoy talks by our experts on the history, wildlife, and geography of this remote region.
The following days are devoted to exploring the magnificent coastline of South Georgia Island. The schedule is flexible, and throughout our journey there will be opportunities for walking, hiking, kayaking, and taking Zodiac excursions. Depending on weather and sea conditions, we plan to make some or all of the following stops:
King Haakon Bay
This is the site of Shackleton's landfall after his rigorous voyage in the 23-foot lifeboat, James Caird. The untouched beaches, headlands, mountains, glaciers, and nesting wandering albatrosses are a great introduction to the wilds of South Georgia.
Wander on foot, visiting the ruins of the abandoned whaling station of Grytviken and its fine museum about whaling and the island's natural history. A host of seabirds, penguins, and marine mammals can be seen as we hike along the coast to the cemetery where Sir Ernest Shackleton is buried.
Salisbury Plain/Elsehul Bay
At the height of breeding season, the northern tip of South Georgia is said to have more wildlife per square foot than any place else on Earth. We are likely to be greeted by thousands of king penguins. Visit a colony of wandering albatrosses and see colorfully crested macaroni penguins, fur and elephant seals, and gray-headed and black-browed albatrosses on their nests.
Right Whale Bay
Land on black-sand beaches, inhabited by southern fur seals, elephant seals, and king penguins, plus dozens of other bird species.
St. Andrews Bay
St. Andrews Bay is teeming with wildlife. Hike past fur and elephant seals and a colony of more than 100,000 king penguins.
Gold Harbour is home to elephant seals, thousands of fur seals and tens of thousands of penguins, including a colony of aristocratic king penguins.
Whalers once sought shelter in this small bay. Here we are likely to encounter king, gentoo, and macaroni penguins; prions; petrels; and terns; and perhaps Weddell seals.
Stromness offers views of cliffs and glaciers that Shackleton and his companions descended to complete their famed crossing. Explore the glacier's ice face by Zodiac. Walk along a pebble beach, passing king and gentoo penguins, and hundreds of fur seals.
As we head west toward the Falkland Islands, watch for whales from the ship's bridge, attend talks by our experts, and enjoy the amenities on board.
Dock in Port Stanley, and stroll along the streets lined with Victorian-style houses. See an archway made of whalebone at the Anglican Cathedral, and visit the Falkland Islands Museum. Hike and kayak along rocky coasts, spotting Magellanic penguins burrowing in tussock grass, herds of enormous elephant seals, and the largest albatross colony in the world.
On our final day at sea, enjoy a last chance to view the marine life of these southern waters. Gather to toast our epic voyage at a festive farewell dinner tonight.
Disembark in Ushuaia. After lunch and time to explore, fly to Buenos Aires by private charter. Connect to your flight home, arriving the next day.
A diverse team of experts, including naturalists, historians, and a National Geographic photographer, will accompany each expedition aboard the National Geographic Explorer. See one of the members of our extraordinary team below.
Field biologist and wildlife photographer Tim Laman received his Ph.D. in biology from Harvard University, where he is a Research Associate in the Ornithology Department. Multiple grants from the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration and its Expeditions Council have supported his fieldwork, which includes a long-term comprehensive study of the exquisitely ornamented birds of paradise. Tim photographs and writes for National Geographic and other popular magazines to promote the conservation of endangered species and habitats. His photographs have received numerous awards, and he has been named both BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year and the North American Nature Photography Association’s Outstanding Nature Photographer.
Tim will join the following departure:
Jan 25 - Feb 17, 2015
This trip is offered in association with Lindblad Expeditions.
National Geographic Explorer
National Geographic Orion
REV Indicates trip operates in reverse.
Prices are per person, double occupancy. For single cabins November 2013 - February 2014, add $5,550 in Category 2 and $5,730 in Category on the Explorer . For single cabins November 2014 - February 2015, add $5,730 in Category 2 and $5,990 in Category 3 on the Explorer, and add $10,630 in Category 1 and $12,540 in Category 3 on the Orion
Airfare is not included in the expedition cost. Round-trip economy airfare between Miami and Buenos Aires is $1,200, and charter flight between Buenos Aires and Ushuaia is from $690-$790 (subject to change).