The islands of the Southern Ocean, like solitary gemstones, reflect a dazzling abundance of life usually hidden from our view.
We start this extraordinary expedition in Santiago de Chile where we will take a transfer flight to the Falkland Islands. In Stanley we will embark our deluxe expedition ship M/V Sea Spirit and sail forth through legendary waters where marine mammals lurk in astonishing numbers.
On the island of South Georgia, amidst dramatic Southern Ocean seascapes, we explore a pristine wilderness swarming with stately king penguins, raucous fur seals, jousting elephant seals, and a profusion of seabirds. We disembark in Stanley and fly back to Santiago.
The windswept and treeless Falkland Islands are a birders’ paradise. The archipelago boasts a great diversity and abundance of birdlife including 80 percent of the world’s population of black-browed albatross, five species of penguin, and a variety of waterfowl such as the endemic Falkland steamer duck.
In addition to innumerable penguin pairs, South Georgia hosts a wide range of bird species in staggering abundance. The island is home to petrels, skuas, prions, shags, terns, and the carnivorous South Georgia pintail duck. This is also an amazing place to see the breeding behavior of the world’s largest seabird: the wandering albatross.
On the remote island of South Georgia, marine mammals are counted in the millions. Antarctic fur seals and southern elephant seals can be seen everywhere jostling for space on the island’s legendary wildlife beaches. This voyage coincides with the season when elephant seals are likely to be seen engaging in ferocious battles.
In the Falkland Islands, breeding populations of South American fur seal and South American sea lion frequent the islands’ many beaches. The waters all along our route are home to various cetaceans including southern right whales, killer whales, and Peale’s dolphins, as well as various large baleen whales no longer hunted.
In the harsh and unrelenting subantarctic environment of the Falklands and South Georgia—and on the tempestuous waves of the Southern Ocean—the endurance of settlers and explorers has been repeatedly tested. Historical events such as the Falklands War have also tested the inhabitants’ resolve and resourcefulness.
Meanwhile, man’s presence on these islands has tested the limits of Nature’s resilience in the face of overexploitation. Throughout our journey we see historical and contemporary evidence of mankind’s precarious and evolving relationship with the elements in a perilous yet fragile environment.
The world-class scenery and wildlife encountered on this voyage provide a dizzying variety of subjects for photographers of all interests and abilities. Our free photography program gives you the chance to practice your skills alongside an expert photographer.
Once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunities come continuously as an albatross glides to the ground beside its downy chick while nearby two bull elephant seals wage an epic battle against a backdrop of verdant hills and snowy mountains.
With such an amazing abundance of wildlife and incredible landscapes, this voyage will likely make a photographer out of anyone. Our experienced expert will be available to help you make the most of this bounty in your viewfinder.