South Georgia Grand Tour: Hondius

South Georgia, Falklands

Few places compare to South Georgia in terms of exotic wildlife and jaw-dropping scenery, and the Falklands are no different. On this exploratory voyage you can enjoy both, possibly touring the world’s largest black-browed albatross colony while also seeing some of the biggest breeding spots for king penguins and elephant seals on Earth – along with day after day of amazing polar scenery

  • Meet a multitude of penguin and seabird species
  • Albatross and rockhopper penguin colonies on the Falklands
  • See hundreds of thousands of fur seals and elephant seals
  • Extraordinary mountain and glacial scenery
  • Follow in the footsteps of Shackleton and paying respect at his grave
  • Possible visit to the world’s largest black-browed albatross colony

Stewart's Take

A really in-depth expedition to the greatest sub-Antarctic island on earth!

Overview

Few places compare to South Georgia in terms of exotic wildlife and jaw-dropping scenery, and the Falklands are no different. On this exploratory voyage you can enjoy both, possibly touring the world’s largest black-browed albatross colony while also seeing some of the biggest breeding spots for king penguins and elephant seals on Earth – along with day after day of amazing polar scenery.
Day 1: Puerto Madryn: Sandy Argentine beaches You embark from Puerto Madryn in the afternoon, your prow aimed for the Falkland Islands. Golfo Nuevo is renowned for its visiting southern right whales, so you have a good chance of spotting one as you sail toward the open ocean. Day 2 – 3: Scotia Sea: Sea life, sea birds Though you’re now at sea, there’s rarely a lonesome moment here. Several species of bird follow the vessel southeast, such as albatrosses, storm petrels, shearwaters, and diving petrels. Day 4 - 5: Finding the Falklands The Falkland Islands offer an abundance of wildlife that is easily approachable, though caution is always advised. These islands are largely unknown gems with a wealth of bird life, including many endemic species. The waters of the Falklands are also rich with sea life, including southern sea lions and elephant seals. There is a good chance to see both Peale’s dolphins and Commerson’s dolphins. During this segment of the voyage, we aim to visit the following two sites: Steeple Jason Home to the world’s largest black-browed albatross colony (roughly 113,000), Steeple Jason is a wild and rarely visited island buffeted by wind and waves. Weather and swell conditions dictate the journey here. Carcass Island Despite its name, this island is pleasantly rodent-free and hence bounteous with birdlife and many endemic species. Anything from breeding Magellanic penguins and gentoos to numerous waders and passerine birds (including Cobb’s wrens and tussock-birds) live here. Other sites that we may offer as an alternative: Saunders Island On Saunders Island you can see the black-browed albatross and its sometimes-clumsy landings, along with breeding imperial shags and rockhopper penguins. King penguins, Magellanic penguins, and gentoos are also found here. Westpoint Island Landing in a small cove near the island's house, you will be able to walk through the tussac grass and an abundant breeding colony of black-browed albatrosses, where they live side by side with rockhopper penguins. Grave Cove Nesting gentoo penguins and excellent hiking opportunities abound here, with the chance to enjoy great scenery and wildlife. Day 6 – 7: Once more to the sea En route to South Georgia, you now cross the Antarctic Convergence. The temperature cools considerably within the space of a few hours, and nutritious water rises to the surface of the sea due to colliding water columns. This phenomenon attracts a multitude of seabirds near the ship, including several species of albatross, shearwaters, petrels, prions, and skuas. Day 8: Shag Rocks Today we reach the Shag Rocks, a group of six islands surrounded by nutrient-rich waters that offer great feeding grounds for numerous birds and whales. The islands are named after the South Georgian shag, known for its bright blue eyes and yellow beak patch. Day 9 – 13: South Georgia journey In our tour of South Georgia’s breathtaking wildlife and scenery, we may visit the following sites. Please keep in mind that weather conditions in this area can be challenging, largely dictating the program. Sites you might visit include: Prion Island The home of the great wandering albatrosses. The previous summer’s wandering albatross chicks are almost ready to fledge, and adults are seeking out their old partners after a year and a half at sea. Salisbury Plain, St. Andrews Bay, Gold Harbour These sites not only house the three largest king penguin colonies in South Georgia, they’re also three of the world’s largest breeding beaches for southern elephant seals. Only during this time of year do they peak in their breeding cycle. Watch the four-ton bulls keep a constant vigil (and occasionally fight) over territories where dozens of females have just given birth or are about to deliver. You can also see a substantial number of Antarctic fur seals here during the breeding season. Fortuna Bay This beautiful outwash plain from Fortuna Glacier is home to a large number of king penguins and seals. You may have the chance to follow the final leg of Shackleton’s route to the abandoned whaling village of Stromness. This path cuts across the mountain pass beyond Shackleton’s Waterfall, and as the terrain is partly swampy, be prepared to cross a few small streams. Leith Harbour, Stromness, Husvik These sites remind us of the scale of the whaling industry in the early 20th century. Elephant and fur seals breed and moult here. Gentoo penguins also occupy the landing sites. Antarctic prions and South Georgia dive petrels may be observed, especially in the area of Husvik. Grytviken In this abandoned whaling station, king penguins walk the streets and elephant seals lie around like they own the place – because they basically do. Here you might be able to see the South Georgia Museum as well as Shackleton’s grave. Cobblers Cove, Godthul Here we will try to visit Rookery Point to see macaroni penguins. We might also encounter giant petrels, gentoo penguins, seals, and light-mantled sooty albatrosses nesting along the coastline. Godthul (Norwegian for “good cove”) was named by Norwegian whalers and seal hunters. Royal Bay (Moltke Harbour, Will Point & Brisbane Point) Moltke Harbour in Royal Bay was named by the German International Polar Year Expedition in 1882, and some of the remains of their dwellings are still visible. The scenery of Royal Bay is amazing, with dark sandy beaches, green tussocks, and of course, the great Ross Glacier. It may be windy here, but the Zodiac cruising is spectacular. Roughly 30,000 pairs of king penguins also live in this area. Cooper Bay A Zodiac cruise in Cooper Bay offers a good chance to see macaroni penguins, gentoo penguins, and one of the world’s largest chinstrap penguin rookeries. Fur and elephant seals may be seen on the beach, while we might also spot light-mantled sooty albatrosses gliding overhead. Antarctic terns, white-chinned petrels, and blue-eyed shags are possible here too. Drygalski Fjord This narrow waterway offers spectacular landscapes, specifically high mountain peaks at a very close distance. Annenkov Island Passing Pickersgill Islands, we reach the rarely visited Annenkov Island, first discovered by James Cook in 1775 and later renamed by the Russian expedition of Fabian von Bellingshausen in 1819. This is a rocky terrain with a variety of ridges, peaks, and hills where fossils have been found. King Haakon Bay Few Antarctic locations are more steeped in expedition history than this one. British explorer Ernest Shackleton reached King Haakon Bay during his arduous open-boat voyage from Elephant Island, where his crew was stranded after sea ice crushed their ship. Elephant seals dominate these rugged beaches, and birdwatchers should keep a lookout for South Georgia pipits, Antarctic prions, common diving petrels, and blue petrels. Day 14 – 17: Westward bound South polar skuas and snow petrels could join the albatrosses trailing our vessel during these sea days, and we may also encounter sea ice. When we reach the Drake Passage, you will be again greeted by the vast array of seabirds remembered from the passage south. Day 18: Ushuaia: Earth’s southernmost city You arrive and disembark in Ushuaia, commonly held to be the world’s most southern city. It is located on the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, nicknamed the “End of the World.” But despite this stopping point, the wealth of memories you’ve made on your Antarctic expedition will travel with you wherever your next adventure lies. Note All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on ice, weather, and wildlife conditions. Landings are subject to site availabilities, permissions, and environmental concerns per IAATO regulations. Official sailing plans and landing slots are scheduled with IAATO prior to the start of the season, but the expedition leader determines the final plan. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises. The average cruising speed for our vessel is 10.5 knots.

New Expedition Vessel: M/V Hondius

MV Hondius

The Hondius is a new-built vessel in 2019 is ice-strengthened and specially crafted for expedition voyages.  Hondius will be the first vessel to be built to class “LR PC6”, meeting the latest and highest demands of Lloyd’s Register for “Polar Class 6” vessels, the highest Polar Class notation for ice-strengthened vessels. The vessel will also fully comply with the mandatory requirements of the Polar code, for safe ship operation and the protection of the Polar environment. Hondius offers deluxe accommodations for in total 176 passengers. One deck has been entirely reserved for (multi-language) lectures and presentations in one large observation lounge and in addition one separate lecture room. The vessel offers a deluxe standard and at the same time a distinctive cozy and informal atmosphere.

The philosophy is to keep sea legs short and to focus on fast and effective access to shore and near shore activities for all nature and wildlife minded passengers. A powerful fleet of zodiacs will guarantee quality outings and swift landing operation for all passengers at the same time. Our main focus remains discovery, taking advantage of wildlife opportunities and the related shore activities, a product that has been very much appreciated by our current travelers for many years. A speedy zodiac embarkation is guaranteed with two separate gangways and in addition a zodiac embarkation indoor-platform which can also be used for special outdoor activities such as kayaking. While cruising, 72 crew and staff members (including expedition and hotel staff) will be at the passengers’ service. Hondius is equipped with 2 main engines and can reach a maximum speed of 15 knots.

For full information about this vessel click here:

Included
  • Voyage as indicated in the itinerary.
  • All meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea.
  • Free use of rubber boots.
  • Pre-scheduled group transfer from the vessel to the airport in Ushuaia (directly after disembarkation).
  • All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac.
  • Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff.
  • All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program.
  • Comprehensive pre-departure material.
Excluded
  • Any airfare whether on scheduled or charter flights.
  • Pre- and post land arrangements.
  • Transfers to the vessel.
  • Passport and visa expenses.
  • Government arrival and departure taxes.
  • Meals ashore.
  • Baggage, cancellation and personal insurance (which is strongly recommended).
  • Excess baggage charges.
  • All items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage charges and telecommunication charges.
  • The customary gratuity at the end of the voyages for stewards and other service personnel aboard (guidelines will be provided).
Rates, Share and Sole Use policy All rates are quoted per person, based on shared twin, triple or quad occupancy. If you are travelling alone and wish to share, you will be matched with another person of the same gender at the shared rate. Twin and Superior cabins are available for single occupancy at 1.7 times the share rate. Children Upon request (some voyages may be excluded), children under 16 with parents may receive 40 % discount in Superior, Triple (sharing with 2 parents / adults) and Quadruple Cabins (sharing with 3 parents / adults). Deposits Reservations require a deposit of 20% 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 60 days of departure require full payment. Final Payments Balances are due 60 days prior to departure. Cancellations All requests for cancellation must be received in writing to Expeditions Online. Cancellations received 90 days or more prior to departure, are refunded less a fee of 20 % of the total price. If cancellation is received between 89 days and 60 days prior to departure, are refunded less a fee of 50 % of the total price. If cancellation occurs less than 59 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. Booking Terms Please read carefully the General Booking Conditions for Expeditions Online. This voyage is operated by Oceanwide 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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