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In 1773, James Cook and his crew crossed the Antarctic Circle for the first time and discovered nearby islands. This vast continent attracted explorers from different nations, such as Sir Ernest Shackleton - a polar explorer leading the British expeditions, or Roald Amundsen – a Norwegian explorer who was part of the famous “Race to the South Pole” of 1911, a competition to be the first to reach the Antarctic. He and his crew came first by about a month before anyone else join them.
Get settled in Ushuaia. You can have the day for yourself and enjoy the world’s most southerly city. Visit the “Museo Marítimo y del Presidio de Ushuaia” (Maritime Museum) or “Museo del Fin del Mundo” which is local history and natural history museum. For the shoppers, Paseo del Fuego Shopping Center is probably the biggest one in the area, or simply walk in the Centre where you will see smaller shops and souvenir shops such as “La Ultima Bita”.
If you wish to dedicate your time outside of the capital, you could head to “Tierra del Fuego” National Park. The park has over 20 species of terrestrial mammals and 90 species of bird. You can spot guanaco (lama quanicoe), Andean fox, muskrat and austral parakeet, Andean condor and Magellanic oystercatcher.
The morning should be dedicated for your last-minute shopping or any last visits of the Town before to embark for the expedition. Embarkation will commence early afternoon and you will sail through the Beagle Channel.
The crew will head East to the Falkland Islands. You will take in some lectures and information about the natural history of the Antarctic region. You will get further understanding in the region and when the humankind started to explore this vast continent.
The Falkland Islands are a remote Archipelago where birdlife is abundant such as penguins or the crested caracara – a bird of prey in the family Falconidae. The islands have also the largest black-browed albatross colony in the world. In the town’s Falkland Islands museum, you will learn more about maritime exploration, but also the 1982 Falkland War and natural history.
The ship will be sailing further East to South Georgia. By the time you will get to the other island, full lectures will be given by the crew to expand your knowledge. This is the time to ask as many questions as you wish.
The Scotia Sea was named after the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition (1902-04) under William Speirs Bruce – a Scottish naturalist, polar scientist and oceanographer. Despite the harsh conditions, the islands are rocky and partly covered in ice and snow but do support vegetation. Indeed, it is part of the Antarctica Tundra. On your way to South Georgia, you could observe seals such as fur seal, leopard seal or the so-called crabeater seal. This last one is a medium to large-sized seal (over 2 metres in length), relatively slender and pale-coloured.
The island of South Georgia is home to a vast colony of king penguins. We advise to visit the colony as it will probably be the highlight of this part of the trip. Nevertheless, the island has plenty of wildlife – elephant seal and fur seals can also be spotted.
You will be sailing for 2 days, following the path of Shackleton towards Elephant Island and the Antarctic Peninsula. During the voyage, Sir Ernest Shackleton was in fact travelling from the Peninsula to South Georgia. For the expedition, you will retrace Shackleton’s route backwards.
The next days, you will be able to set foot on this uninhabited continent and observe the wildlife and outstanding views. Penguins (Gentoo, Chinstrap, Adélie penguins) would be one of the wild animals, amongst with whales and the so-called leopard seal. Regarding the weather, you will attempt 2 shore landings per day get to be lectured about remarkable human history in the continent. The experience will be majestic and unreal, like if you were landing on a different planet!
You will head back to the port of Ushuaia and review with the lecturers and staff the highlights of the voyage. You also might encounter some whales and rare species of bird on your way back.
Enjoy a last breakfast on the ship before to disembark at the port of Ushuaia.
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