Day 1 — Ushuaia, Argentina
Embark Silver Explorer and meet some of your fellow explorers as you become acquainted with the luxurious amenities found on board. A mandatory safety drill will take place before you set sail. During the afternoon you will be introduced to your Expedition Team and important members of the crew. At sail-away enjoy the mountain-lined shoreline of the Beagle Channel while you leave Ushuaia and bid farewell to Tierra del Fuego, the Land at the End of the World.
Day 2 — At Sea
The Expedition Team’s expert lecturers will present ornithological and historical insights into the Falkland Islands, our first destination. You might hear about the early European explorers and the different attempts at settling the Falkland Islands/Malvinas. Get introduced to the specific birdlife we expect to see during our stay by our onboard Ornithologist.
Tonight, you are invited to attend a special Welcome Aboard cocktail party hosted by the Captain, who will introduce his senior officers.
Day 3 — Steeple Jason Island and West Point Island, Falkland Islands
Today’s adventure introduces you to the remarkable beauty of the remote islands of the Falkland Islands/Malvinas.
Steeple Jason is the westernmost of the two larger islands making up the Jason Island group in the northwestern part of the Falklands. A dramatic peak and the world’s largest Black-browed Albatross colony make for an interesting visit. Once used for sheep grazing, the island is now used to monitor wildlife. Other birds breeding on the island include Falkland Skuas, Striated Caracara and Southern Giant Petrels. Rockhopper, Magellanic and Gentoo Penguins frequent the island too. Strong tidal currents and extensive kelp beds can make landings on the quartz sandstone difficult, but the setting of the plain with tussac grass, the different birds species and the steep peaks in the background make for a very photogenic setting.
During lunch, while Silver Explorer will reposition to West Point Island, watch for Peale’s dolphins and the distinctive black and white markings of the Commerson’s dolphin as Silver Explorer approaches the island and anchorage. Upon arrival, photographic opportunities are everywhere as you walk across rolling moorland and admire colonies of Black-browed Albatrosses that nest side-by-side with feisty Rockhopper Penguins. Learn about the island’s unique vegetation. The hospitable island owners are always happy to answer your questions and share their stories.
Day 4 — Stanley, Falkland Islands
Stanley is the capital of the remote Falkland Islands, and has a distinct British ambience.
Take the classic ‘City Highlights’ tour which covers Stanley and surrounding environs. This excursion passes by older and newer portions of Stanley, stopping at the local harbor for small boats, both in current operations as well as half sunken hulks from 100 years ago -some of which are now being used as docks. Additional stops will be the shipwreck of the Lady Elizabeth, the peat cutting area, an outdoor whale bone display, war memorials and the museum.
You should also stroll through the charming streets of this colourful little town, lined with quaint cottages and a variety of traditional pubs, and visit the 19th-century Anglican cathedral. Some lingering reminders of the 1982 Falklands War between Britain and Argentina may still be seen though the island has settled back to its quiet business of raising sheep.
Days 5–6 — At Sea
Binoculars and camera in hand, head out on deck to watch for seabirds and marine mammals. Gather in The Theatre to perhaps hear about Captain Cook’s first visit to South Georgia or to learn about the region’s endemic wildlife and unique nature. Our knowledgeable onboard experts will present lectures and seminars in a variety of scientific fields. Other onboard diversions may include photography workshops, spa treatments, a workout in the Fitness Centre, and, of course, exquisite dining experiences.
Days 7–10 — South Georgia
This breathtaking destination of towering snow-covered mountains, mighty glaciers, and low-lying grasslands attracts an astounding concentration of wildlife: Southern fur seals, southern elephant seals and a variety of albatross species including Black-browed, Light-mantled Sooty, Grey-headed and the spectacular Wandering Albatross, plus thousands of King and Macaroni Penguins.
South Georgia is also linked to the early Antarctic explorers. Captain James Cook first stepped ashore in 1775, but perhaps more famous is Ernest Shackleton’s arrival in 1916 following the sinking of his ship Endurance. Visit the graves of Shackleton and Frank Wild, and the whaling museum at Grytviken. Here are some of the places we may visit:
-Enjoy a Zodiac cruise to see Macaroni and Chinstrap Penguins on the rocks and in the water.
-A large King Penguin colony can be found near Bertrab Glacier.
-Seals can be seen sunning on the beaches.
-Grytviken is a historic whaling station. You can still see the remains of the activity, including rusted hulls of long abandoned whaling and sealing ships, and some of the working-areas.
-In the museum guests can learn about past whaling techniques and view various exhibits on exploration and discovery.
-At the burial site of famous explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton we will toast the great explorer. The remains of his faithful companion Frank Wild have been brought here too.
-Salisbury Plain is a favourite breeding ground for hundreds of thousands of King Penguins. It is amazing to see how they completely cover the beaches and hills.
Day 11 — At Sea
Participate in onboard activities, listen to some of the lectures given, relax in one of the lounges, or peruse an array of titles and topics in the well-stocked Library. Take a stroll on deck and enjoy the solitude and splendour of the vast sea and sky. During the cruise towards the South Sandwich Islands we might see some of the giant tabular icebergs coming from the Weddell Sea.
Days 12-13 — South Sandwich Islands
For two days we want to explore the rarely visited southeastern outpost of the British Overseas Territory of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. These islands were first seen in 1775 during Captain Cook’s second major voyage, searching for Terra Australis Incognita. Although known for almost three hundred years, the different islands have rarely been visited and only for a very short period did humans actually live on them in a military base.
We intend to sail along the arc of 11 islands and marvel at the incredible wildlife that has chosen such an inhospitable place as their own. The islands are believed to host to over 3,000,000 Chinstrap Penguins, plus more than 100,000 Macaroni Penguins, 100,000 Adélies, and thousands of Gentoo Pengins. Despite the icy location, some of the islands have active volcanoes. Travelling from North to South we intend to have a look at:
-Zavodovski Island –this volcanically very active island is almost free of snow and ice. It is believed that more than 2 million Chinstrap Penguins make Zavodovski their home.
-Candlemas and Vindication –these two islands are close neighbours. Candlemas has a glacier-covered basaltic stratovolcano at its southern end, while the northern part has scoria cones with radiating lava flows. Vindication Island is home to a large Chinstrap Penguin colony at the aptly named Chinstrap Point.
-Montagu –this is the largest of the South Sandwich Islands and home to Mount Belinda, the highest point in the South Sandwich Islands. The summit rises about 3,000 metres from the seaflorr, reaching a height of 1,370 metres. Despite its last eruption in 2007, the massive shield volcano is mostly ice-covered.
-Thule Island and Cook Island –these are the southernmost of the South Sandwich Islands. Captain Cook had been this far south and gave it the name Thule, as this seemed the end of the world. There are a few ice-free sectors on the islands and Adelie and Chinstrap colonies exist. An Argentine meteorological/military base had been set up in the 1970s, but was destroyed after the Falkland war.
Days 14- 15 — At Sea
Having been to places few others even know exist, participate in discussions and lectures about the early British and Russian explorers that visited the area, and learn more about the hardy wildlife that manages to survive in these waters.
Day 16 — South Orkney Islands
Today Silver Explorer will be in front of the South Orkneys. Depending on the weather and sea conditions we might visit the Argentine base “Orcadas del Sur”, which can claim to be the longest occupied human settlement in Antarctica, and hear about the work done at this station.
Day 17 — Elephant Island, South Shetland Islands
Steep mountains and glaciers greet us as we approach Elephant Island – so named for its former abundance of elephant seals. In 1916, when Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance was crushed in pack ice in the Weddell Sea, the crew was stranded here for 137 days. Elephant Island is home to several Chinstrap Penguin rookeries, as well as old moss colonies. Weddell seals and Macaroni Penguins can also be found on the spit of land Shackleton’s men named Point Wild. A solitary statue can be seen there, honouring the Chilean pilot Luis Pardo, who took the cutter Yelcho across the Drake Passage to rescue Shackleton’s men.
Days 18– 21 — Antarctic Peninsula
While sailing along the Antarctic Peninsula, every turn can reveal a new and breath-taking adventure. As the pack ice becomes thicker, it’s apparent to everyone that we are moving closer into Antarctica’s vast white wilderness. Remote and otherworldly, Antarctica is irresistible for its spectacular iceberg sculptures and calving glaciers, and for the possibility of up-close encounters with marine mammals. Watch for seals sunbathing on slow-moving ice floes and for humpback, Minke, and orca whales to surface from below the frigid waters.
A flexible itinerary allows us to take advantage of favourable sea and weather conditions. In the true spirit of expedition cruising, each day the Expedition Leader and Captain will determine our best course depending on weather, ice conditions and wildlife we may encounter. Here are some of the places we may visit:
Brown Bluff, Tabarin Peninsula (mainland Antarctica)
-Brown Bluff is an ice-capped, 745-metre-high, flat-topped mountain with a prominent cliff of reddish-brown volcanic rock.
-Coming ashore you will be on the Antarctic mainland
-Adelie and Gentoo Penguins, Kelp Gulls, and Cape Petrels use this as a breeding area.
-As you explore the area, a Weddell seal may be seen basking in the sunlight.
-If conditions permit, we might hike onto a nearby glacier.
Cuverville Island, Errera Channel
-The island was discovered by de Gerlache’s Belgian Antarctic expedition of 1897–99, and was named for a vice-admiral in the French navy.
-Large, bare rock areas provide nesting sites for Gentoo Penguins.
-Snow Petrels and Cape Petrels may be seen, and Wilson’s Storm Petrels nest in the higher scree of the island.
-During Zodiac tours, we hope to see hauled-out Weddell and leopard seals
Paradise Bay (Antarctic Peninsula)
-The bay is well named for its spectacular scenery of mountains, glaciers and icebergs.
-From the ship, observe Argentina’s “Base Almirante Brown”, one of many Antarctic research stations.
-View the wildlife from sea level while cruising in your Zodiac. We might come across a crabeater seal relaxing on a nearby ice floe, while Blue-eyed Shags nest in the cliffs close to Almirante Brown, where Brown Skuas like to be. Minke whales do frequent the area.
Port Lockroy, Goudier Island
-The British built a listening station here during WWII, which was then used as a research station in the 1950s and since 1996 as a museum and gift shop.
-Snowy Sheathbills and Gentoo Penguins roam and nest outside the museum.
-Because of the penguin colony leopard seals are quite often found in the vicinity.
-The island is home to 80-90 thousand Adelies and a massive colony of Blue-eyed Shags.
-Kelp Gulls and Snowy Sheathbills are amongst the birds that breed on Paulet Island, and Wilson’s Storm Petrels are regularly seen.
-Part of Otto Nordenskjold’s team had to over-winter on the island in 1903. Remnants of their hut still remain.
Port Foster, Whalers Bay (Deception Island)
-Deception Island is an example of a caldera where it is believed that the volcano’s summit collapsed with one section sinking far enough to allow the sea to flood the interior. We plan to sail into Port Foster through Neptune’s Bellows, a narrow entrance in Deception Island’s breached wall.
-Dating back to the whaling history of Deception Island are the boilers used to make whale oil in the early 1900s.
-The British base’s Biscoe House was destroyed by a mudflow after a volcanic eruption in the late 1960s but can still clearly be seen.
-Depending on weather conditions several hikes to viewpoints might be offered.
Days 22–23 — Drake Passage
The Drake Passage has a notorious reputation for its turbulent seas due to strong westerly winds and the currents pushed through the ‘narrow’ gap between South American and the Antarctic Peninsula. The Antarctic Convergence is a natural boundary where nutrients are pushed to the surface, often attracting a multitude of seabirds and whales. Spend some time on deck watching the horizon and the variety of seabirds that glide in the air currents of our ship’s wake such as the Black-browed Albatross, Sooty Shearwaters, and White-chinned Petrels. Take this opportunity to attend additional presentations offered by the Expedition Team lecturers and to swap photos with new friends as we travel towards Ushuaia.
Day 24 — Ushuaia, Argentina
After breakfast, disembark Silver Explorer.
Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather, wildlife activity and ice conditions. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation.
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