The shores of South Georgia are crowded with wildlife

Falklands, South Georgia, Antarctica: Mega Colonies

Antarctica and South Georgia

Explore recently discovered penguin mega colonies in the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica. This new 17-night Mega Colonies cruise takes advantage of the direct South American flight from Santiago to Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands. On this voyage we prioritise the region’s largest penguin colonies, including St Andrew’s Bay and Salisbury Plain on South Georgia; Paulet Island and Bailey Head and also the Danger Islands, to experience the newly discovered mega-colony of Adelie penguins

  • Witness some of the largest wildlife colonies found anywhere on Earth
  • Outstanding wildlife observation on shore, Zodiac cruising and from the ship
  • Visits to historic sites and science stations
  • Learn about the environment, wildlife, history and ecology from polar experts
  • Onshore hiking options
  • Photographer-in-Residence
  • Sea kayaking available
  • Whale watching
  • Active Cruising & Wellness

EXPERIENCE SOME OF THE LARGEST WILDLIFE COLONIES ON THE PLANET

Antarctica and remote islands of the South Atlantic are home to some of the largest wildlife colonies found anywhere on Earth. On the dark sand beaches and in the tussock covered dunes of South Georgia, king penguin colonies contain more than 100,000 adult birds and their young. To the south, in the remote Weddell Sea region of Antarctica, we find Adelie penguin rookeries of a similar size and scale. These ‘mega colonies’ are the focus of this unique voyage – a world first in polar expedition travel.

In March 2018, scientists from the esteemed Stony Brook University and their international colleagues announced the discovery of a previously unknown penguin colony, estimated to contain more than a million Adelie penguins. Studying detailed satellite imagery of the remote Danger Islands, researchers visited and confirmed the astonishing find. These islands sit at the remote and little-visited northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.

While the mega fauna colonies are a highlight of this voyage, history can be found at every turn and we visit several important locations containing relics from early exploration and the whaling era. The waters are full of life and we anticipate encounters with both whales and seals. Every day we explore off the ship, in the Zodiac boats, by sea kayak and by hiking on shore – all in the company of expert guides who interpret and educate us about our fantastic surroundings. We invite you to join us on what promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime voyage.

The right gear for your trip – included!

Expedition Clothing Gear package included

During the voyage you will have the use of an expedition gear package free of charge. Containing around $US900 worth of essential equipment, this kit includes a quality waterproof/ windproof jacket and bib-pants plus insulated rubber boots designed for extended walking. We also include a set of binoculars and a Nordic trekking pole for use when on shore. A waterproof backpack completes your package. This kit saves you buying expensive clothing and equipment you may only ever use once. It also eliminates the need to carry such cumbersome gear to the ship (total weight around 8kg/17lbs).

Special Offer

Save a flight credit of US$800 per person (or equivalent currency). In addition, we will include a complimentary pre-voyage hotel night combined with an onboard US$50 dining/spa credit.

Stewart's Take

A comprehensive Antarctic experience on a truly fantastic ship

Overview

Explore recently discovered penguin mega colonies in the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica. This new 17-night Mega Colonies cruise takes advantage of the direct South American flight from Santiago to Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands. On this voyage we prioritise the region’s largest penguin colonies, including St Andrew’s Bay and Salisbury Plain on South Georgia; Paulet Island and Bailey Head and also the Danger Islands, to experience the newly discovered mega-colony of Adelie penguins.
Experience some of the largest wildlife colonies on the planet on this unique voyage. Antarctica and remote islands of the South Atlantic are home to some of the largest wildlife colonies found anywhere on Earth. On the dark sand beaches and in the tussock covered dunes of South Georgia, king penguin colonies contain more than 100,000 adult birds and their young. To the south, in the remote Weddell Sea region of Antarctica, we find Adelie penguin rookeries of a similar size and scale. These ‘mega colonies’ are the focus of this unique voyage – a world first in polar expedition travel Day 1 - Santiago, Chile to Stanley, Falkland Islands We depart Santiago this morning on our special charter flight direct to Stanley, the small capital of the Falkland Islands. We are met on arrival and transfer from the airport into town. Making our way to the port, we board our expedition ship, RCGS Resolute in the afternoon. After settling into our cabins and exploring the ship, we meet our expedition team and fellow passengers. Excitement is in the air as we enjoy a welcome cocktail celebrating the arrival of a new year. Days 2 - 3 - At Sea - Towards South Georgia We chart a south-easterly course bound for South Georgia. The seabirds join us in the Southern Ocean and follow in the updrafts created by the ship. Our educational presentations continue and are always popular. History is a key theme of this voyage and the epic story of Sir Ernest Shackleton and the HMS Endurance expedition is central to any trip to South Georgia. Days 4 - 6 - Exploration of South Georgia South Georgia has often been called the ‘Serengeti of the Southern Ocean’ – and as we approach the deep bays of this rugged, rocky outcrop, you will begin to see why. Launching the Zodiacs, we begin our 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. South Georgia is a thrilling location for history lovers too and the rusting relics of the early whaling industry are all around us. A highlight is a visit to Grytviken – the largest of the whaling stations, situated at the head of Cumberland Bay. It is here we visit the gravesite of Sir Ernest Shackleton. Days 7 - 9 - At Sea - Towards Antarctica Weather and ice will dictate our crossing of the Scotia Sea from South Georgia to Antarctica. Onboard experts keep us busy with fascinating presentations and lead lively discussions throughout the day. The great pelagic seabirds are sure to keep us company – and we anticipate excellent sightings of albatross and giant petrels soaring on the winds of the South Atlantic Ocean. Days 10 - 12 - Danger Islands and the Weddell Sea Our excursions today will be dictated by the prevailing weather. Strong currents flow out of the Weddell Sea bringing variable ice conditions to the archipelago. We launch the Zodiacs to explore the waters around the island groups and plan to make shore landings at several locations. We will be struck by the immense scale of the Adelie penguin rookeries here. These are the smallest (and most comical) of Antarctica's penguins, resplendent in their black and white plumage. They are fascinating to observe, coming and going from fishing forays, and sitting on the nest raising their precious chicks. Our guides will be keen to share their knowledge of the penguin life-cycle and tell of the recent scientific research at this location. Days 13 - 15 - South Shetland Islands and Gerlache Strait Approaching the South Shetland Islands as we navigate south, we may aim for a shore landing at Half Moon Island – home to a boisterous colony of nesting chinstrap penguins. A short hike brings us to elephant seal haul out. These are fascinating animals to observe as the naturalist guides explain the unique family dynamics and behaviour. There are several other nearby locations, including Yankee Harbour or Hannah Point which we may choose as alternative landing sites. We enter the maze of islands and waterways along the Antarctic Peninsula and enjoying shore landings, Zodiac cruises and kayak excursions several times per day. Ship cruising into the Errera Channel, we have a couple of great landing sites to consider including Cuverville Island – with its sizeable gentoo penguin rookery. Days 16 - 17 - Drake Passage As we make our way back to South America, the educational presentations continue, and we enjoy an entertaining and memorable voyage recap by our Expedition Leader. Join our photography experts in the multimedia room and download and back up your precious images. If weather conditions allow, we hope to make a rounding of Cape Horn. Day 18 - Arrive Ushuaia In the early morning, we arrive into Ushuaia, Argentina. It is time to say farewell to your crew and fellow travellers. Guests will be transported to their hotels or to the airport for return flights home. It will be possible to connect to flights through to Buenos Aires or other destinations in South America. ABOUT OUR ITINERARY: Polar exploration can be unpredictable. Specific sites visited will depend on prevailing weather and ice conditions at the time of sailing. The above itinerary should be read as a ‘guide only’ and may change. The ship’s Captain in conjunction with the Expedition Leader continually review the sailing plan throughout the voyage, making adjustments to the itinerary along the way to take advantage of optimal weather and ice conditions or to maximize our encounters with wildlife. Decades of experience spent exploring these waterways mean we have a large number of outstanding landing sites and Zodiac cruising locations to consider, even when the weather conditions may not be ideal or when heavy ice may hinder our planned route. A flexible approach is something we encourage you to bring to the ship.

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Luxury Expedition Vessel: RCGS Resolute

RCGS Resolute

The purpose built polar expedition vessel RCGS Resolute provides a most capable, safe, and exclusive expedition cruise experience.  Designed for comfort, there are public spaces ideally suited for each and every need. Two separate bar and lounge areas featuring 180 degree views and a wonderfully stocked library provide ideal places to relax or catch up on some reading. RCGS Resolute has the highest ice class (Lloyds 1AS).  Equipped with propellers of stainless steel, high density steel plating and small frame spacing on her hull, RCGS Resolute continues into the ice, when others simply cannot.  The ship is very stable and her stability and strength are features greatly appreciated in ice laden large waters.  Unmatched stability, coupled with superior speed allows for more time at your destination and more flexibility with itinerary planning – a critical factor in polar waters where ice and weather conditions sometimes dictate daily plans. All cabins feature outside viewing ranging from deck three traditional with port holes, up to decks 4 through 6 offering expansive panoramic windows.  Cabins all have lower berths that have the ability to be single beds, or 1 double bed depending on our guests needs. 

For full information about this vessel click here:

Included
  • Pre-voyage information package to help you prepare for your trip
  • Free use of expedition gear package with quality waterproof/windproof jacket, bib-pants plus insulated rubber boots, waterproof backpack, set of binoculars and a Nordic trekking pole.
  • Transfers to the ship on embarkation day and from the ship to the airport on disembarkation
  • Shipboard accommodation in your selected cabin category with daily housekeeping. Cabins feature outside views with windows or portholes
  • All breakfasts, lunches and dinners on board with daily afternoon tea
  • 24-hour tea, coffee, hot chocolate in bar/lounge plus in-cabin tea and coffee making facilities
  • Expedition Leader and professional expedition team of biologists, naturalists, historians, adventure guides and photographers
  • Daily off-ship excursions by Zodiac boat breaking into small groups for shore landings
  • Guided hikes and walks for guests of all abilities
  • Visits to wildlife colonies, historic sites, places of outstanding natural beauty and science stations
  • Resident photography guide
  • An emergency trained medical physician
  • Dedicated hospitality team including Hotel Manager, four chefs, professional bar staff and Adventure Concierge staff
  • Onboard sauna, plunge pool, Jacuzzi and fitness centre including massage options (charge applies for massage and treatments)
  • Sea Kayaking program available (additional charge of US$795pp) – must be reserved at the time of booking your voyage and you must have some prior paddling experience
  • Well-stocked library with polar reference books
  • End of voyage video, photos and take-home USB
  • Port fees and all permits to access visited areas
Excluded
  • Any international or local airfare unless otherwise specified in the voyage itinerary
  • Visa and passport expenses
  • Pre or post-cruise hotel accommodation unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged)
  • Pre or post-cruise transfers unless otherwise specified in the itinerary (or pre-arranged)
  • Personal expenses on board such as alcoholic beverages, bar charges or laundry expenses
  • Telecommunication charges (i.e. email, satellite phone)
  • Baggage, cancellation or medical travel insurance related expenses (travel insurance is mandatory on all voyages)
  • A voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for expedition staff and ship crew (suggested amount – US$15-20 per day)
Deposit Reservations require a 20% deposit at the time you receive a booking confirmation from Expeditions Online. A payment link will be sent to you and this may be paid by major credit card. Bookings within 120 days of departure require full payment. Final Payment Balances are due 120 days prior to departure and can be paid by bank transfer. Balance payments may be made by credit card subject to a 2% surcharge. Cancellations All requests for cancellation must be received in writing to Expeditions Online. Cancellations received 120 days or more prior to departure = loss of deposit. If cancellation occurs less than 120 days up to and including the day of departure: 100 % of the total price. If full payment has not yet been received, the full penalty will still apply and any unpaid balance is due immediately. We strongly recommend that you obtain adequate trip cancellation insurance. Pricing, Sharing and Single Occupancy Prices shown are per person on a shared basis. If you are travelling alone and wish to share, you will be matched with someone of the same gender and pay only the share rate. If desired, Single occupancy is available at 1.5 times the twin share rate (not available in the Triple category), or 2 times the rate for Suites. Family Travel and Child Discounts For youth up to and including 17 years of age there is a 25% reduction in price. For youth between the ages of 18-21 there is a 20% reduction in price with proof of educational enrolment (current student card). These youth bookings must accompany an adult booking. Permission is required for any traveller under the age of 18 years and a Child Consent form to be completed. Booking Terms Please read carefully the general Terms and Conditions for Expeditions Online. This voyage is operated by One Ocean Expeditions and you additionally travel under their terms and conditions as the operator as well as of the Shipping Company/transport carrier. Details will be forwarded to you at the time of booking.
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