Setting foot on the Antarctic Peninsula is a bucket list item for many but no one can really prepare themselves for this incredible experience. Enormous tabular icebergs that dwarf the ship will take your breath away. Close encounters with inquisitive penguins, playful seals and breaching whales, create a wildlife experience like no other. Pristine landscapes with crystal clear water and glacier rimmed peaks create a stunning backdrop for any photographer.
One of your toughest decisions will be which voyage to choose? Our advice is to seriously consider if your time and budget will stretch to a longer voyage that includes Antarctica as well as South Georgia. This beautiful island is often described as the most incredible wildlife show on earth as it is the breeding ground for King Penguins, seals and sea lions and home to the wandering albatross.
Making the choice as to which voyage, when, which ship or operator is where we help; unlike ship owners/operators we’re not obliged to sell the ships we own/operate – we offer independent expert advice and can match the best experience for you.
PLEASE NOTE: We have a dedicated Antarctic site links from this page will take you to that specialist site
Upon arrival in Punta Arenas, Chile, where your Antarctic journey commences, make your way to the hotel for an included pre-voyage stay. This evening, we encourage you to visit the welcome desk set up in the lobby of the hotel to check in with the cruise representative and to collect luggage tags for your voyage. Punta Arenas is the gateway to Chilean Patagonia, facilitating easy exploration of the region pre-voyage.
Depart Punta Arenas in the morning on a charter flight direct to King George Island. You will be met on arrival and transferred from the airport to the RCGS Resolute. After settling into your cabin and exploring the ship, meet your expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as you enjoy a welcome cocktail and cast off to explore one of the most remote regions on Earth.
There are several ships offering this or a very similar itinerary:
Take a deep breath and venture out on deck as the towering peaks of the Antarctic continent are laid out before you. For the next two days you have a varied itinerary exploring the Gerlache coastline. You may visit Paradise Harbour and have an opportunity to step foot on the continental land mass of Antarctica. A superb hike here leads up to a high point affording incredible views of the glaciers and mountains. This is a good location to observe nesting imperial cormorants on the cliffs. While Zodiac cruising or paddling the kayaks into nearby Skontorp Cove are other memorable activities – the small cove is surrounded by towering glaciers on all three sides.
Each day enjoy guided walks on shore, visits to wildlife colonies, and Zodiac cruising among the ice with our expert guides providing insight and interpretation. The Errera Channel has several beautiful spots to visit – including Danco Island – a dome-shaped sentinel providing some great hiking options. Cuverville Island is another favourite – with its substantial gentoo penguin rookeries. The ship may navigate north through the Gerlache Strait towards Spert Island – a little visited rocky outcrop with remarkable geology. The island is criss-crossed by narrow channels which makes for fantastic Zodiac cruising and sea kayaking. The cliffs are home to numerous nesting bird species and you may encounter whales here. Nearby Mikkelson Harbour also allows for another potential off-ship excursion. After several busy days of exploration head north, bound for the South Shetland Islands. This is an important whale migration corridor and you are likely to see humpback whales, or the resident orca group that inhabit this area.
Having crossed the Bransfield Straight overnight, you will arrive in the South Shetland Islands. If the weather conditions allow, the crew will sail the ship into the flooded volcanic caldera at Deception Island. This is a very dramatic place and history is all around as you explore the old whaling station, with the rusted old boilers and dilapidated wooden huts. At the far end of the beach is an old aircraft hangar. This is where Australian, Sir Hubert Wilkins made the very first flight in Antarctica in 1928. There is also an outstanding hike here, high up onto the rim of the crater. Situated at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctic Sound is about 10 miles wide and separates the Antarctic Peninsula from Joinville Island. The gateway to the Weddell Sea, Antarctic Sound is also an exciting destination in its own right. Home to science stations, Adelie penguin rookeries and tabular icebergs, you will experience many of the different faces of Antarctica. While visiting Antarctic Sound, you may visit sites such as Brown Bluff, Hope Bay, or Gourdin Island.
Point Lookout on the southern tip of Elephant Island is home to an impressive chinstrap penguin colony. Macaroni penguins also breed here. Both southern elephant seals and fur seals are hauled out on the rocky beaches. If conditions permit, we may visit the fabled location of Point Wild on the north coast of Elephant Island. It is here that Shackleton and his men were encamped under their upturned life boats, before the six men set off on a rescue mission to South Georgia in their tiny lifeboat – the’James Caird’. The captain will then chart a southeasterly course bound for South Georgia.
NOTE: There are over 100 possible sites to explore, the actual itinerary will not be confirmed until the August before the season commences. The International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (which we are proud to be Associate members of) co-ordinates all site visits.
South Georgia has often been called the ‘Serengeti of the Southern Ocean’ – and as you approach the deep bays of this rugged, rocky outcrop, you will begin to see why. Launching the Zodiacs you will begin your exploration of the island, in the vicinity of Elsehul Bay. Large numbers of fur seals and the much larger elephant seal will line the dark sand beaches. Living in the tussock grass, king penguins and their chicks may number up to 100,000 birds in some locations, including Salisbury Plain, St Andrews Bay and Gold Harbour. The island is also home to large numbers of nesting albatross as they fill the skies above, coming and going from the nest.
Dotted along the coastline are the rusting relics of the early whaling era. The largest of these locations is Grytviken. Here we find a fascinating museum and a beautifully restored Norwegian Lutheran Church. Adjacent to the old whaling station lies a small cemetery. This is the final resting place of Sir Ernest Shackleton – who was laid to rest here in 1922. For many onboard, being in the presence of the great explorer is a highlight of the trip. Continue your journey along the coastline, hoping to visit Stromness – another former whaling station – and the final destination of Shackleton and companions Frank Worsley and Tom Crean having made the near impossible traverse across the interior of South Georgia after their epic boat trip from Antarctica a century ago.
By now you will be in sensory overload, your camera full of images as your journey towards the Falkland Islands commences. The spectacular seabirds including several albatross and petrel species follow the ship. The onboard educational program continues, and your experts recap our remarkable journey to date. These days provide a good opportunity to catch up on journal entries, sort through your images at the multimedia stations and catch some rest after several busy days of activity.
Wake to the sight of landfall in the Falkland Islands. Situated in the Scotia Sea more than 250 nautical miles off the coast of South America, the Falklands Islands are situated in relatively shallow and very rich waters for marine life. As such, the Falklands are host to an amazing array of Antarctic and sub-Antarctic species as well as many species from neighbouring South America. It is entirely possible to see a striated caracara, known locally as a Johnny Rook, stalking gentoo penguin chicks, with black-browed albatross soaring overhead. This amazing juxtaposition of Antarctic and South American wildlife is one of the many great surprises of the Falkland Islands. The choice of landing sites in the Falkland Islands will depend in many respects on the crossing from South Georgia. The transit speed will be dependent on the weather systems coming through the Drake Passage, which will in turn dictate our arrival time and place in the Falklands. The captain and expedition leader may choose to visit the East Falklands or push on to the West Falklands for a day of excursions prior to disembarkation in Port Stanley. Possible excursion sites include Bleaker Island in the East Falklands or West Point Island in the West Falklands. Either offer excellent wildlife opportunities with Magellanic penguins, potentially rockhopper penguins and a number of bird species endemic to the Falkland Islands. In the waters around the islands, you may be fortunate to see Commerson’s and/or Peale’s dolphins. While the wildlife of the Falkland Islands is certainly an attraction for many, there is a vibrant history and an engaging Camp or countryside lifestyle. As you visit the Falkland Islands and are hosted by land owners, you will learn much about life in this isolated outpost of the United Kingdom.
This morning you will arrive in to the port of Stanley. Say goodbye to your crew and after some free time in town, make your way to the airport for your return charter flight to Santiago. On arrival in Santiago our journey comes to an end. Onward regional and international flight connections may be possible this evening. A transfer is provided to a downtown location for those choosing to stay and explore Santiago and the delights of Chile.