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This incredible expedition combines the highlights of the spectacular Antarctic Peninsula, together with the phenomenal nature-enthusiasts heaven of South Georgia. Gaze in awe at the largest king penguin colonies in the world, see elephant & fur seals up-close and spot the nesting grounds of the wandering albatross. Explore the sites of the great explorer, Ernest Shackleton, on Elephant Island and zodiac cruise around colossal tabular icebergs in the Weddell Sea.
Day 1: Ushuaia, Argentina
Day 2: Depart Ushuaia
Days 3-4: Drake Passage
Days 5-8: Antarctic Peninsula
Day 9: Elephant Island
Days 10 to 11: Scotia Sea
Days 12 to 15: South Georgia
Days 16 to 18: At Sea
Day 19: Falklands Islands (Malvinas)
Day 20: At Sea
Day 21: Disembark Ushuaia
Arrive at the ‘end of the world’ port town of Ushuaia. The city nestles on the edge of the Beagle Channel, with the majestic mountains of the Martial range to the north, and the beautiful Tierra del Fuego national park to the west. You will be met by your expedition representative and transferred to your hotel to relax following your flight, and to enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.
Prior to boarding, enjoy the sights of Ushuaia in the morning, with the opportunity to enjoy the delights of the nearby national park. Late afternoon, you will be welcomed aboard the Greg Mortimer, where you will set sail and transit through the Beagle Channel en-route to Antarctica.
The expedition crew will run through safety and environmental briefings, and you will enjoy fascinating talks on Antarctica, together with birdwatching opportunities from the deck. If you are ahead of schedule, then as you near the South Shetland Islands, you may make your first exciting landing. Keep watch for your first glimpses of penguins, seals, cormorants and monumental icebergs.
Welcome to the west coast of the Antarctic peninsula, where you will awake in awe of the majestic and otherworldly landscapes! The expedition leaders and ship’s captain will create a unique and incredible daily itinerary for you (based on the weather and ice conditions) to explore this magical continent - sometimes you may cruise aboard a zodiac to explore the towering icebergs and ice sculptures, and to spot wildlife including penguins & seals. Other times you will have the opportunity to be one of the few people to set foot on Antarctica and walk to spectacular viewpoints, with potential visits to penguin rookeries, dramatic landscape points, working research laboratories and historic huts. With the long hours of daylight, this provides the flexibility to make potentially two exciting landings a day, providing endless photo opportunities. If weather and ice conditions permit, the crew will attempt to explore one of the hidden gems of Antarctica, the Weddell Sea region, famed for the enormous tabular icebergs.
Zodiacs will attempt to take you to Point Wild on Elephant Island (weather and sea permitting), paying tribute to Shackleton’s crew of 22 men who were shipwrecked and forced to survive the elements for many months, sheltering under upturned boats awaiting rescue. The surrounding area also offers some dramatic scenery too.
A time to relax and reflect on the voyage so far, keeping an eye out for whales and icebergs as you head northeast en-route to South Georgia, following the route of the historic Shackleton rescue mission. Your onboard historian and naturalist will hold talks about the fascinating area in preparation for landing.
South Georgia is famed for its rich biodiversity, dazzling scenery and is known as the ‘Serengeti of the Southern Ocean’ – as one of the world’s most amazing natural environments, it is a real mecca for nature enthusiasts. The islands feature the world’s largest king penguin rookeries, elephant seals, fur seals and nesting grounds of the fabled wandering albatross and hundreds of other species of birds. Shore landings aboard Zodiacs are always a magical exploratory experience, with the surrounding 10,000ft mountain peaks creating the perfect backdrop for some incredible moments. South Georgia is regarded by many as the jewel in the crown of Antarctica and you can be assured that it won’t disappoint. Kayakers will also love the abundance of wildlife, with curious seals & penguins keeping you company as you paddle through the waters.
As you depart South Georgia, conditions allowing, you may pass by the fascinating shark-fin shaped islets, ‘Shag Rocks’. As you cross the South Atlantic en-route to the Falklands, you will be entertained with various lectures from the onboard experts, highlighting the amazing sights you will have seen so far. You will have plenty of time to relax, observing the seabirds following the wake of the ship, whale watching, or simply chilling at the bar and socialising with your fellow explorers.
The Falkland Islands are a collection of over 700 islands, with only 1% of these being inhabited. This fascinating collection of islands offers great wildlife opportunities as well as a dramatic history to discover. The nutrient-rich waters of the region make them a prime location for marine life and bird spotting. The Falkands’ sandy coasts are home to over 100,000 pairs of gentoo penguin (the largest population in the world!), southern rockhopper, Magellanic & king penguins, seals and sea lions. Your time in the Falkland Islands includes a stroll through the colourful capital town of Stanley.
On the voyage back towards the Beagle Channel, keeping watch for albatross and dolphins. The last night will offer a sumptuous dinner with your new friends and a chance to discuss and reflect on the wonderful adventures you have shared.
Arriving in Ushuaia, following breakfast, your expedition reaches its finale as you bid farewell to your fellow passengers and disembark the ship ready for your onward journey.
The Greg Mortimer is named after the Australian polar explorer, mountaineer and Aurora founder, Greg Mortimer. Its the first ship in a series of landmark, purpose-built Polar Expedition ships for Aurora and features a state-of-the-art 'x-bow design', which has a piercing effect on smaller waves, making for a much smoother voyage.
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