South Georgia in-depth




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South Georgia


Easter Island


South Georgia Island

October 15 - 31, 2016
with One Ocean Expeditions

South Georgia is the jewel of the South Atlantic Ocean. These incredibly remote and wild islands, together with the Falkland Islands, are home to an abundance of wildlife. The Falkland Islands have a rich and storied history, while South Georgia has rightly been called ‘the most staggering wildlife show on earth.’ After this in depth exploration, we are certain you will agree. This seldom-visited corner of the planet is a place One Ocean Expeditions knows intimately and looks forward to visiting every season. Even the One Ocean Expeditions team, some with more than 100 journeys south, cherish every visit to South Georgia. Each of us at Galapagos Travel holds many special memories dear from our own voyages there as well.

Traditionally visits to South Georgia last only three or four days and are part of a much longer itinerary that includes time spent in Antarctica. But, after many years of careful preparation and planning, we can now offer our visitors the unique opportunity of ten days of exploration – more than double the time traditionally spent – in South Georgia.

This particular voyage is timed to coincide with the arrival of spring as South Georgia emerges from the long and frigid winter. It is an exceptional time to visit, with snow likely in many areas providing a stunning backdrop to the wildlife show. Late October marks the beginning of the wildlife migration and commencement of the breeding cycle for many species. Scenes of male elephant seals battling for control of the beaches (and the female harems), and the intimate and beautiful courtship rituals of the albatross, and antics of the young King Penguin chicks who have just overwintered, will have you believing you are ‘on the set’ of your very own wildlife documentary. For lovers of remote, small-ship expedition cruising, this voyage ticks every box you could possibly imagine.


After a short flight from Punta Arenas in southern Chile, begin 16-night expedition in Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands. Here in the Falklands we find a relatively warm climate where a range of unusual wildlife thrives. Sixty species of migratory birds and the rare rockhopper penguin inhabit the archipelago. Stanley is currently home to just over 2,000 residents and is reminiscent of a rural town in coastal England or Scotland. It is a charming place with brightly colored houses, pretty flower-filled gardens, a quaint cathedral and several local pubs. The waterfront memorial, built to commemorate the lives of the servicemen lost during the Falklands War in the early 1980's, acts as a sobering reminder of recent history.

Leaving Stanley, we chart a course across the Scotia Sea and make landfall at the northwestern tip of South Georgia. This area is truly rich in its bio-diversity and showcases an abundance of astonishing wildlife. Much of early Polar exploration history has links to South Georgia and we aim to make it come alive with guided walks ashore, visiting relics such as the old whaling stations and highlighting points of interest and place names - each with a story to tell. We will be exploring the entire northern coast of the island in depth. Our expedition to South Georgia will leave you with images and memories that are certain to linger.

17-days / 16-nights aboard the ship, plus travel days, for a total of 19 days.

92 participants, plus expedition staff, hotel staff and crew. With fewer than 100 participants we are able to land at the same time, rather than in 2 staggered groups, affording everyone much more time ashore.

The expedition starts with a flight (included) from Punta Arenas, Chile, and ends with disembarkation in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.



We will be traveling in a very remote, unforgiving, environment where weather - wind and ice - will determine our every move.  The Expedition Team will work closely with the captain, crew and zodiac drivers to give us the best possible expedition. Flexibility is paramount for all expedition cruising and this itinerary is for guidance only.

October 15: Punta Arenas (Chile) to Port Stanley, Falkland Islands
Our journey commences this morning in the southern Chilean city of Punta Arenas. We meet at the airport and fly on the scheduled service to Stanley in the Falkland Islands (this flight is included in the price of your voyage). After a short 90-minute flight we arrive in Stanley and will be met on arrival and transferred to the pier, embarking our expedition ship, Akademik Sergey Vavilov, later this afternoon. After settling in to 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 and dinner and cast off, bound for South Georgia – and the adventure of a lifetime.

October 16 and 17: At Sea
We chart a southeasterly course bound for South Georgia. Our days at sea are never dull. Much of our time is spent on the outer decks, scanning the horizon in search of whales and other marine mammals. A profusion of seabirds delight us as they wheel and spin above the ship. Black-browed Albatross are typically riding our wake, while there are also good chances for Royal Albatross in these waters. Additional species may include Giant Petrel, Sooty Shearwaters, Thin-billed Prion, Wilson's Storm-Petrel. We spend plenty of time with our onboard polar experts who will be educating us on the wonders of the South Atlantic Ocean and Sub-Antarctic eco-systems. History is a key theme of this voyage and the epic story of Shackleton is central to our journey. Perhaps you will pick up some valuable tips from our onboard photographic guide, learning about image composition, the subtle and soft polar light and all the basics of good camera craft. We will also learn about Polar conservation - a theme particularly close to the hearts of our One Ocean Expeditions’ guides and crew.

October 18, 19, 20 & 21: King Haakon Bay and the Northwest Coast, South Georgia
These next ten days will be unlike anything you have ever imagined. Majestic snow-covered mountains greet us on arrival in South Georgia. We begin our exploration on the southern coastline. We hope to navigate the ship into the very historic location of King Haakon Bay. It was here that Shackleton and his men made landfall on thier small lifeboat - the James Caird, after completeing the perilous ocean crossing from Elephant Island, 100 years ago. From here they set off to cross the mountainous spine of South Georgia - a feat never before attempted. This is a very dramatic place, visited by just a handful of ships each season.

From here we make our way around to the protected waters of the north-western coast. We can now indulge in an in-depth exploration, navigating the ship into the bays and harbors the entire length of the island. Elsehul Bay and Possession Bay are possible landing sites and we may catch a glimpse of the rusting buildings of Prins Olav Station, a former Norwegian whaling station abandoned in the 1930's.

One of the most anticipated sites in South Georgia is Salisbury Plain. The black sand beaches and tussock covered dunes are home to a staggering abundance of king penguni adults and their young. The rookery is believed to have a population of up to 100,000 adult and juvenile penguins. This is just one of several such king penguin rookeries on South Georgia. At the height of breeding season the rookeries are believed to have more wildlfife per square foot than any other place on the planet. You have to experience it to belive it!

The majestice "kings" are not the only wildlife on display. Fur seals can be seen poking their heads above the water; the elephant seals will enjoy lazing about the beach, while the skuas and giant petrels fill the skies above. Meanwhile, the albattoss - our constant companion on this journey - is never far away.

As we continue our journey further down the coastline of South Georgia we visit several beautiful locations including Prion Island, in the beautiful Bay of Isles. This island has been designated as a ‘Specially Protected Area’ by the South Georgia Government, due to the breeding wandering albatross colonies at this location. Boasting the largest wingspan of any living bird, typically ranging from 2.5 to 3.5·m (8ft to 11ft), they spend most of their life in flight, landing only to breed and feed.

Distances traveled each year are hard to measure, but one bird was recorded traveling 6000·km in just twelve days. It is rare to experience them up close and personal and on land. We are exceptionally lucky to be able to attempt a landing here. The site is closed to visiting ships between November and mid January, due to the massive concentration of fur seals on the beaches.

October 22 & 23: Fortuna Bay, Stromness, Grytviken and the central North Coast, South Georgia
Our adventure takes us next to Fortuna Bay, a majestic three-mile long and one-mile wide fjord. Named after the ship Fortuna, one of the original vessels of the Norwegian-Argentine whaling expedition which established the first permanent whaling station at Grytviken, further down the coast. In Fortuna Bay we can expect to see King Penguins and Elephant Seals, and may spot light-mantled sooty albatross, which nest in the area. They are spectacular birds with magnificent plumage and a graceful aerial courtship like no other.

History comes into sharp focus as we continue west to Stromness and Grytviken. From 1912 until the 1930’s, Stromness (and nearby Leith and Husvik), operated as whaling stations and the rusted and ghostly remnants of these old stations seem out of place in such a pristine environment. This area is key to the Shackleton story and it was here, in 1916, that Shackleton and his companions, Worsley and Crean arrived after their epic crossing from King Haakon Bay on the south coast. This is after having completed their 800-mile journey by small boat from Elephant Island. If the weather co-operates, we hope to be able to hike the last few miles across the saddle separating Fortuna Bay from neighboring Stromness, in the footsteps of Shackleton and his men.

As we journey further to the southeast we enter the broad expanse of Cumberland Bay. At the head of the bay lies Grytviken - the largest of the old whaling stations on South Georgia. A highlight of our landing here is a visit to the gravesite of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his loyal right hand man, Frank Wild. Frank Wild's lifeling wish was to be buried beside Shackleton, although with the outbreak of WWII a week after his passing it wasn't until 2011 that his ashes were finally brought to South Georgia - 94 years after his last voyage with Shackleton in 1921.

October 24, 25, 26 & 27: St. Andrews Bay, Gold Harbour and the Southeast Coast, South Georgia
Our next few days will take us to St Andrew’s Bay and Gold Harbor - places that are teeming with wildlife including fur seals, elephant seals and massive colonies of the colorful King Penguins. As with all of our landings we will exercise every opportunity possible to explore on foot, as much or as little as you like. Gold Harbor is so called because the sun's rays make the cliffs yellow with their light in the morning and evening. It’s an exhilarating location.

Drygalski Fjord has been called one of the most spectacular sites in South Georgia and we think you will agree. If it is calm enough you can hear the glacier calving large chunks of ice, reminders of what early sealers, whalers and vessels needed to pay close attention to. Our visit to this breathtaking place is a fitting way to complete our journey. Tonight, as we reflect on eight epic days of exploration, we chart a course for South America and the most southerly city in the world - Ushuaia.


October 28, 29 & 30: At Sea
Our final days are spent catching up on journal entries, or perhaps downloading and reviewing photos in the multi-media room with our photography expert. The educational presentations continue and we enjoy an entertaining and memorable voyage recap by our Expedition Leader. For some, these days are a chance to catch some well-earned rest after a busy two weeks of exploration. The wonderful top-deck lounge and bar on our ship provides fantastic panoramas and is a great place to sit with a book and a cappuccino.

A particular highlight of our return journey will be frequent sightings of the majestic albatross, petrels and other seabirds as they soar above the ship on the winds of the Southern Ocean. Take the time to enjoy a quiet moment on the outer deck, reflecting on a truly remarkable journey to the farthest reaches of the planet. Approaching the entrance to the Beagle Channel in the soft evening light, we enjoy a special dinner attended by the Captain of the ship.

October 31: Disembarkation in Ushuaia
Early this morning we should pull alongside the dock in Ushuaia, Argentina. Following breakfast we will disembark – transfers will be provided to either the airport or central Ushuaia as you prefer (luggage storage will be available in town for anyone catching flights later in the day and opting to further explore Ushuaia).

Ushuaia is the capital of (Argentine) Tierra del Fuego and located on the shores of the Beagle Channel, surrounded by the southern tip of the Andes Range. Part ski village, part frontier outpost, this vibrant small town gives you wonderful views of the neighboring mountains and sea, glaciers and forest.

Flight time time to Buenos Aires is just shy of four hours, and with most international flights departing Buenos Aires for North America in the evening this allows for a fairly leisurely day. Lunch and dinner on your own.


Please note - Specific sites visited will depend on ice and weather conditions - the planned itinerary will be updated at the time of final preparations as well as throughout the voyage in order to take advantage of favorable conditions.

We put safety first and that means weather, ice, wildlife, political or other conditions may require us to modify the itinerary as we go. However we aim to maximize your overall experience. We consider this half the intrigue of Polar exploring. In every expedition our undertaking is a little different and subject to modification. It may mean we have to cancel certain shore excursions if condition are not suitable but we always find other fun things to do. Polar exploring is not predictable which is one of the many reasons we think it is so special.


The 92 passenger, 384 ft Akademik Sergey Vavilov is today operated by One Ocean Expeditions. The ship was built in Finland in 1988 for polar and oceanographic research. Recently refurbished, she is ideal for expedition cruising – she is our favorite Polar vessel! Common areas include the bridge, a top-deck view lounge, presentation room with theater seating, dining room, library, mud room, multimedia room, infirmary, sauna, exercise room, and plunge pool. Viewing is excellent from the large, open decks. Superb, varied, and abundant international cuisine is prepared by European chefs; the dining room allows for a single seating at all meals.

The Akademik Sergey Vavilov has an ice-strengthened hull; her smaller size allows us to navigate scenic waterways with ease, venturing into areas closed to larger vessels. Powerful twin engines provide the speed capabilities to maintain our full itinerary. Designed to explore remote corners of the world, she is equipped with sophisticated navigation equipment and stabilizers for smoother cruising. The ship meets all international environmental and safety standards. A western physician trained in emergency medicine is on-board. The atmosphere aboard is relaxed, more akin to a private expedition than a conventional cruise. She has a crew of 35, largely Russian, all highly experienced in polar/ice navigation.

All cabins have an outside view, with portholes or a window, and are comfortably furnished. They have ample storage in addition to a desk/ study area. Prices are per person based on shared accommodations.




(per person, double occupancy)


TRIPLE (shared facilities)
Bunk beds plus a sofa bed. Facilities are shared (“down the hall”); washbasin in the cabin.



TWIN (semi-private facilities)
1 lower berth & 1 sofa bed, with semi-private (shared between 2 cabins) facilities.


3, 4 & 5

TWIN (private facilities)
1 lower berth & 1 sofa bed, with private facilities.



2 lower berths, sofa, and private facilities.


4 / 5

Double berth, 1 sofa bed, TV, VCR, fridge, separate sleeping quarters and private facilities.



Double berth, 1 sofa bed, TV, VCR, fridge, separate sleeping quarters and private facilities w/ bathtub.



All ship cabins must be shared, except by special arrangement. We will attempt to arrange a roommate for you if traveling alone. Selected twin cabins are available for guaranteed single occupancy at 1.5 times the twin rate.

A deposit of $2,000 per person is required to reserve space. The balance of the Expedition Cost is due July 7 2016. We accept Personal Checks, Overseas Wire Transfers, Visa & MasterCard for deposits and payments.

Extensive pre-departure materials; Shipboard accommodations 16 nights, including daily housekeeping; All breakfasts, lunches, afternoon tea, and dinners on board the ship throughout your voyage; Coffee, tea, and cocoa, available around the clock; All shore landings and Zodiac excursions per the daily program; Leadership throughout the voyage by the experienced Expedition team, including shore excursions and presentations aboard the ship; Foul weather gear set (rain jacket, bib pants & Lacrosse (Wellington) gumboots on loan; Airfare between Punta Arenas, Chile, and Port Stanley, Falklands at the start of the expedition, Group transfers in Port Stanley between the flight and ship, and from the ship to the Ushuaia airport on disembarkation; Baggage handling aboard ship; All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges while aboard the ship.

Depending on conditions it is very likely there will be opportunities for some optional expedition snowshoeing on South Georgia. The ship will provide all necessary equipment and gear to loan for those wanting to snowshoe - no prior experience is required.

This voyage will also feature an Enhanced Photography Program, where in addition to the standard photographer in residence, a professional photographer will be aboard as one of the expedition guides. This expands the opportunities for those keen passengers looking to learn more and get more out of their images.

Any airfare beyond the group Punta Arenas to Port Stanley group flight; baggage fees; visa and passport fees; governmental arrival and departure taxes; pre-cruise or post-cruise hotel accommodations; airport transfers not noted; items of a personal nature including laundry, postage, communications or medical expenses; sodas and alcoholic beverages; excess baggage charges; travel insurance (evacuation coverage at a minimum is mandatory); gratuities to the staff and crew (suggested at $10-15 per day per tour participant suggested).

An optional kayaking program is available to a limited number of participants. The cost is $795 and includes the use of all gear, including drysuits. The kayaking option must be pre-booked, and at least some prior experience sea kayaking is required. Please inquire about this unusual expedition option - it truly adds a new dimension of adventure to an already action-filled expedition.

All cancellations shall be in writing (fax or e-mail are acceptable). The Boat Operator imposes these terms based on the short season, the small number of departures, and the expense of operating in the Antarctic. In this respect, you are strongly encouraged to purchase Travel Protection Insurance. A comprehensive insurance package is available through GALAPAGOS TRAVEL for all U.S. residents. You will receive a policy application along with your deposit receipt.

All deposits and payments are non-refundable. If a cancellation occurs 90 days or less prior to departure, and full payment has not yet been received, the full penalty still applies and unpaid monies are due immediately. Refunds cannot be made to passengers who do not complete the tour for any reason whatsoever.

All expedition participants are required to carry emergency medical and evacuation coverage at a minimum.

Fuel surcharges were the norm for many ship operators for several years. However One Ocean Expeditions has never charged a fuel surcharge, and while they cannot guarantee that one will not be assessed in the event of unprecedented fuel costs for an expedition is it extremely unlikely.


Galapagos Travel is happy to assist with international flights from your home airport to Punta Arenas at the start of the voyage, and from Ushuaia home at the conclusion.

Options to extend your time in Chile, Argentina, or the Falkland Islands are amazing.

Traveling through Chile at the start of the voyage affords opportunities to spend time in Santiago, Easter Island, and Punta Arenas (the jumping off point for the spectacular Torres del Paine National Park) as you might wish. At a minimum we strongly suggest an overnight in Punta Arenas prior to catching the once-a-week flight to the Falklands. We are happy to assist with hotel and airport transfers here as needed.

Flights between Punta Arenas and the Falkland Islands are weekly, on Saturdays. If you would like additional time in the Falklands you are limited to flying there on October 8 (or October 1). Based on several short visits to Port Stanley we can't say the town is worth an extra week, but the opportunities to spend several days each on some of the outer islands are incredible. If opting to fly to Port Stanley a week early you would no longer be on the included group flight on October 15, so would receive a discount off the expedition cost.

Arriving in Ushuaia at the end of the voyage provides opportunities to optionally experience the Tierra Del Fuego National Park. Flights home will pass through Buenos Aires affording further opportunities (including Iguazu Falls).

The One Ocean Expeditions staff includes an Expedition Leader plus another 10 or so Polar experts, including naturalists, a geologist/glaciologist, ornithologist, historian, marine biologist, "adventure concierge," kayaking guide, and photographer.

The ship is smoke-free with the exception of some outside deck areas. Smoking is not permitted anywhere inside the ship, including individual cabins. You are welcome to visit the Bridge as often as maritime regulations and the safety of the ship permit.


Photo credits: Mark Grantham.

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