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Antarctica Wildlife: Falklands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula

23 days from £9868pp

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Antarctica Wildlife: Falklands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula:
Trip Dossier

This cruise provides an in-depth experience of not only the snow-drenched mountains and icebergs of the Antarctic Peninsula but also the bleakly beautiful landscapes of South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. These windswept sub-Antarctic islands are brought to life by the chattering and wheeling of birdlife: beaches are choked with penguins in their tens of thousands, and the vestiges of a human history of struggle and endeavour are everywhere to be seen.

Sail east from Ushuaia to the Falkland Islands and spend a couple of days exploring the rugged coastline and draughty plains, spotting Magellanic and gentoo penguins, maybe a nesting albatross or two. Pop into Port Stanley, the Islands’ friendly ‘retro’ capital.

South Georgia is a more savage landscape with jagged, harshly glaciated mountains. Former centre of the sealing and whaling industries, there are mournful reminders of the human struggles here, with shipwrecks and pioneering scientific stations. It was here that Shackleton scaled the unforgiving range of ice-clad peaks to seek help for his ship-wrecked crew. You may even have the opportunity to walk in his footsteps. But it is the multitude of wildlife that really stuns you here: elephant seals, King and macaroni penguins, albatross and even re-introduced reindeer abound.

Continue to the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula where rugged, primeval mountain peaks are scoured by glaciers which calve battleship-sized icebergs into the sea, while providing rich breeding grounds for seabirds, penguins and seals.

The specific itinerary shown below, departure dates and costs are based on the Plancius.  Other ships operating the same route on different dates and with different prices include Silver Explorer, Sea Spirit and Ocean Diamond.  Click on the Departure Schedule tab above for more information.


Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Buenos Aires. Transfer to your hotel in the chic Recoleta district.

Day 2

Guided city tour.

Day 3

Fly south to Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego), overnight in hotel.

Days 4-5

Embark MV Plancius. Sail along the Beagle Channel.

Days 6-7

Visit the Falkland Islands.

Days 8-9

At sea.

Days 10-13

Visit South Georgia.

Days 14-16

Sail through the Scotia Sea via the South Orkney Islands.

Days 17-19

Visit the South Shetland Islands.

Days 20-21

Sail through the Drake Passage.

Day 22

Disembark in Ushuaia; fly to Buenos Aires.

Day 23

Transfer to the airport for international flight home.

Detailed itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Buenos Aires. Transfer to your hotel in the chic Recoleta district.
You will be met at the airport and escorted to your hotel in the chic residential district of Recoleta by one of our local representatives.

Buenos Aires is an elegant, cultured and cosmopolitan city famed for its interesting museums and the fascinating port district of La Boca, with its cobbled streets and brightly painted houses. It was here that the tango was born, and Diego Maradona honed his footballing skills.

The centre of town is home to the colonial heartland, government buildings and churches, as well as chic shopping districts, which have a nostalgic Parisian feel. The bohemian quarter of San Telmo is full of quaint old houses interspersed with antiques shops, tango bars and classy restaurants. Slightly further out of the centre is the Recoleta district, even more evocative of French belle époque and Italian influence.

Buenos Aires

Day 2

Guided city tour.

Your small-group guided city tour takes you along Avenida 9 de Julio, one of the widest boulevards in the world and studded by the Obelisk, an emblematic symbol of the city. Along this majestic highway is the 19th century Teatro Colón which, in terms of its architecture and design, as well as its excellent acoustics, is considered one of world’s best. On to the Plaza de Mayo, enclosed on 3 sides by the metropolitan cathedral, the town hall and the Casa Rosada, the presidential palace. The tour continues to bohemian, arty La Boca, which was settled and built by Italian immigrants and has streets lined with brightly painted corrugated iron-clad houses. Visit the district of Recoleta.

Buenos Aires

Day 3

Fly south to Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego), overnight in hotel.

Fly to Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego, southern Patagonia. The city has grown rapidly in recent years, partly as a result of government incentives to settlers, and its establishment as a Free Port, and partly a tourist centre - most Antarctic cruises, like yours, leave from the port here. The setting is spectacular; jagged mountains hem in the town down to the shore of the Beagle Channel. Spend a night here prior to embarking on your cruise ship.


Days 4-5

Embark MV Plancius. Sail along the Beagle Channel.

Walk to the nearby port and embark on the ship Plancius. Set sail along the Beagle Channel, so named after the HMS Beagle which later took Charles Darwin on his explorations around the South American continent. Cruise through the wildlife-rich waters of the open ocean. Lectures introduce passengers to the various bird species and marine life that will become features of the expedition.

Beagle channel

Days 6-7

Visit the Falkland Islands.

The first port of call is the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas). Dolphins are often seen along the coast and wildlife includes rockhopper penguin, black-browed albatross and blue-eyed shag. You also have the opportunity to explore the Falklands capital, Stanley. Founded in 1844 this tiny outpost of colonial officials and sailors is now home to just 2,000 people and has a quiet Hebridean feel to it. Miraculously it was virtually unscathed during the 1982 war.

Port Stanley

Days 8-9

At sea.

At sea. The expedition team prepares you for landings and zodiac cruises along the coast of South Georgia. Learn about penguins, reindeer and the island's connection to the expeditions of Sir Ernest Shackleton.

chinstrap penguins

Days 10-13

Visit South Georgia.
Sharing many of the biological characteristics of Antarctica, South Georgia is a narrow island with 2 mountain ranges rising 2,300m from the ocean – a land of alpine glaciated peaks, ice-scalloped fjords and protected valleys.

It is at the now rusting whaling station at Stromness that Shackleton first raised the alarm of his wrecked ship, having famously trekked across the mountains with its towering, high peaks and equally impressive glaciers, also has many low-lying grassy areas, deep fjords and beaches.

The island, first sighted by Captain James Cook in 1675, attracts an outstanding concentration of wildlife. You can expect to see King and gentoo penguins, elephant seals and albatross.

south georgia

Days 14-16

Sail through the Scotia Sea via the South Orkney Islands.

Sail through the Scotia Sea. Stop at the South Orkneys, much visited long ago by scientists and whalers, where towers of black rock shield the flooded caldera of an active volcano and wildlife abounds.

volcanic cone

Days 17-19

Visit the South Shetland Islands.
An iceberg looms into view followed by the mountains of the South Shetland Islands. The main stop here is at Deception Island, the centre of which is a volcanic caldera that last erupted in 1969. Explore the Antarctic Peninsula where silence is so complete that interruptions become indelible memories: noisy penguins squabbling over prized pebbles on Cuverville Island, the boom and crack of a calving glacier in Paradise Harbour, for example.

The soaring peaks and stark rocks of Lemaire Channel are just the excuse you need to grab your camera gear for a shooting session from the deck, if the channel is free of ice. Exactly where the ship lands will vary from one expedition to the next and according to the polar conditions as the ship edges its way southwards through the slush and abstract patterns formed by the sea ice. Wildlife you may encounter includes gentoo, chinstrap and Adélie penguins, petrel, shag, elephant and fur seal, and perhaps whales.


Days 20-21

Sail through the Drake Passage.

At sea: head back towards Ushuaia via Drake Passage, hundreds of kilometres of open water and the shortest crossing between Antarctica and the rest of the world. Very occasionally the crossing is gentle, but the odds are against it. Force 5/6 winds are considered normal conditions. Whales and dolphins can often be seen as well as an abundance of marine birds such as petrel, albatross and penguin. During this part of the voyage, there are briefings and presentations on the Antarctic ecosystem.


Day 22

Disembark in Ushuaia; fly to Buenos Aires.

Disembark, transfer to airport and fly back to Buenos Aires. Overnight.

Day 23

Transfer to the airport for international flight home.

Essential information

The nature of the Antarctic travel

Many factors play a role in shaping the expedition's progress - the prevailing wind, weather and ice conditions, for example. Ideally, depart the ship by zodiac to explore the peninsula with at least 2 excursions daily - on land, by zodiac or a combination of both, lasting anything between 2-4hrs. There are no man-made jetties in Antarctica so landfalls are 'wet landings' where you scramble ashore from the zodiac in wellingtons and waterproofs. You are then free to explore on your own or in groups, before later being picked up again by zodiac. Evenings may be spent relaxing, reliving the days' events with a briefing or lecture, or out on the deck, keeping an eye on the dramatic, ever-changing scenery. Itineraries will vary from the original plan if conditions demand/permit.

It’s a long time at sea, but the variety and intrinsic fascination of what can be seen is spell-binding.

What to see and when

The theatre of wildlife in Antarctica as a whole displays an ever changing narrative of birth, struggle, pleasure, fulfilment and death. You may witness the comedy of a waddling penguin building its nest, a mother bird feeding its young or reuniting with a returning mate; a wily seal escaping the clutches of a hunting whale.

A large variety of marine birds visit the continent including 17 species of penguin, of which 4 breed in Antarctica (emperor, chinstrap, gentoo and Adélie). Mammals abound here: blue, orca, humpback, minke and southern right whales prowl the chilly ocean, while Weddell, Ross, crab-eater, leopard and elephant seals sprawl on the beaches.

Plant life in Antarctica proper is restricted to lichen, mosses and algae but there are hundreds of colourful varieties of these. There’s a greater range of plant-life thriving on the sub-Antarctic islands: in spring the Falklands are awash with flowers.

What to see as the season unfolds

December – January:
• Long days of summer light, milder temperatures.
• Penguin chicks hatch in the Falklands and South Georgia, then the Antarctic Peninsula.
• Seal pups born on South Georgia and the Falklands.
• Whale sightings increase.

February :
• Excellent whale-watching opportunities.
• Penguin chicks begin to fledge.
• Fur seals increasingly numerous on the Antarctic Peninsula.
• Colourful snow algae break the snow white domination of the landscape.
• Spectacular sunrises and sunsets add a rosy glow to the ice.

Specific to your cruise:

Drake Passage and the Antarctic Convergence: Over 35 species of bird may accompany your crossing. Species include giant petrels, Antarctic fulmars, and the black-browed and wandering albatrosses with wingspans up to 3m.

Falkland Islands:
65 species of birds breed here including 6 species of penguin, 12 of albatross and smaller petrels, over 30 of land-feeding birds. Marine birds form large colonies on the remote western islands. There are no native mammals: introduced species include rabbits, foxes, otters, guanacos and domestic and farm animals. The coasts are frequented by Southern sea-lions, Falkland Islands fur seals, and elephant seals. The harbours host leopard seals, killer whales, pilot whales, several species of dolphins and spectacled porpoises.

South Georgia:

Breeding colonies of King, gentoo and macaroni penguins are to be found. Adélie, chinstrap, Magallenic and rockhopper penguins may also be spotted, with Antarctic giant petrels, snow petrels, snowy sheathbills, Antarctic and slender-billed prions, albatrosses and mollymawks. Elephant seals and over a million fur seals breed on the beaches, while leopard seals hunt around the penguin colonies.

South Shetland Islands:
Visitors include chinstrap, gentoo, macaroni and Adélie penguins; giant petrels, Wilson’s and black-bellied storm petrels, brown and south polar skuas, Cape pigeons, Antarctic terns, blue-eyed shags, Dominican gulls, elephant, fur,
leopard and crab-eater seals; humpback, minke and orca (killer) whales remain offshore.

Antarctic Peninsula:
Chinstrap, gentoo and Adélie penguins abound. Breeding birds include skuas, Antarctic terns, giant petrels, snowy sheathbills, Antarctic shags, kelp gulls, Wilson’s storm, Antarctic and snow petrels.


2 flights (4hrs); 19 day cruise.


The hotels in Argentina are good, practical mid-range options. The MV Plancius is a former oceanographic ship which has been fitted out for guests with contemporary décor. A key attraction is the range of optional active sports and adventures she offers guests who don’t want to spend all their time just looking.


Breakfast daily; full board days 4-21.


We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 25 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by the latter on their return.

Included excursions

• City tour of Buenos Aires.
• Shore excursions on the Antarctic cruise.

Summary of nights

23 days, 22 nights: Buenos Aires 2; Ushuaia 1; Antarctic cruise 18; Buenos Aires 1.

Included in the journey price

• Services of our team of experts in our London office.
• Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides.
• All land and air transport within Latin America.
• Accommodation as specified.
• Meals as specified.
• Excursions as specified, including entrance fees.

Not included in the journey price

• Tips and gratuities
• Meals other than specified.
• International flights to Latin America.
• Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
• Optional excursions.

Optional excursions

These activities are offered on selected departures:
• Kayaking.
• Camping.
• Scuba diving.
• Hiking.
• Mountaineering.
• Snow-shoeing.
Previous experience is advised or required for some of these activities. It is advisable to pre-book (and pre-pay) any optional activities which are charged for, as many of these have limited numbers and can fill up before the cruise commences.

Travelling alone

Cruise ships will accept individuals travelling alone who are willing to share a cabin with a person of the same sex, they will be charged the per person price based on two travelling together. If you prefer your own cabin you can opt to pay a single cabin supplement.


The unit of currency in Argentina is the Argentine peso. The ship works with euros and US dollars.


Meals on board ship are included. Water, coffee and tea are complimentary but other drinks are charged. You pay for your extras (in US dollars, euros or by credit card) at the end of the cruise. There isn’t much else to pay for on board.

How to take it

Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns, and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip, and in most shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds.

We recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency. Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused. You can take sterling, but the exchange rate is not always competitive or even available, restricting the number of places where you can change money.

On the cruise ship you can pay your bill for extras with a credit card (Most accepted excluding Diner’s Card), in euros or US dollars cash.


Tips are expected and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income.

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have an allowance for cruise ship staff, hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants.It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants. On the cruise, a tip of $US 8-10 per person per day for the crew and guides is considered appropriate. 

Tipping guidelines can be found in our Briefing Dossier.


Travel insurance is essential. Make sure your insurance covers you for the full amount if you have to cancel.

Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page.

Airport taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Journey grade

The cruise ship has well equipped cabins and passengers are welcome on the bridge. This voyage is for flexible, independent-minded travellers looking for an expedition-style experience.

The cruise:
Antarctica is very remote: once committed to your journey, you are at the mercy of the weather and ocean conditions, the melting and freezing of ice-packs, and the movement of icebergs. This is expeditionary cruising: you will be facing the same environmental challenges as the early explorers, albeit in much greater comfort, and with the assistance of modern technology and communications.

You must be in good health generally and you should be able to walk over slippery and rocky terrain for several hours per day. That said, the expedition is ship-based and physically not very demanding. Although you spend as much time as possible ashore, you are welcome to remain aboard the ship if you like. To join most excursions, you must be able to get up and down the steep gangway from the ship to the water level to board the Zodiacs. Staff will assist you in and out of the boats. This will become progressively easier with practice.

There is a doctor on board but if you fall ill while on the cruise or have an accident it could be a long time and maybe an arduous journey before you return to a destination with good medical facilities, so bear this in mind if you have a pre-existing condition.


Buenos Aires is hottest January-March (very humid with tropical showers, occasionally over 40°C during the day). It can be a bit cooler in November.

Patagonia/Tierra del Fuego is at its best in summer (December-February) when days are long and mild. March and November can be sunny and clear, but it may be windy.

The Falkland Islands and South Georgia have a chilly climate characterised by strong winds, rainfall totals are small. The islands are at their warmest in Jan, the mid-point of the southern summer, averaging 10-15°C. A little-known fact is that the islands are bathed in the same number of sunshine hours as southern England.

Antarctica is visited by ship from late October to March, the southern hemisphere summer. Outside this period days are short and dark. The Peninsula has a typical maritime climate and average temperatures during the cruising season vary between 1°C and -15°C. Antarctica is a desert, so you won’t see much precipitation.

Clothing and special equipment

The southern hemisphere summer is hot in Buenos Aires, so take loose-fitting light clothing for maximum comfort at this time. An umbrella is a good idea in case of a tropical shower. Spring and autumn are milder and less predictable.

South America is in general a relaxed continent and you won’t need clothes for formal dining but you may wish to take some smart casual wear if you intend to visit top of the range restaurants.

On the cruise:
Protective clothing is the single most important way of ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable cruise and the key is to dress in layers. For Antarctic landings we recommend a breathable, thermal base layer to wick away perspiration; a warm mid-layer such as a fleece or down sweater and a wind and waterproof (but breathable) outer shell garment. Trousers should have a thermal lining (or wear a base layer of thermal leggings) and you will need waterproof trousers to wear over them. Plus of course warm socks, hat, scarf, gloves and sunglasses. Rubber boots are essential for Antarctic landings; these can be pre-ordered and are loaned on board free of charge. Dress on board ship is informal and it’s sensible to bring a spare change of warm, dry clothing for wearing out on deck between landings.

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts. Good equipment is very important and hard to come by in South America.


Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements.

You can also find helpful information on Masta Travel Health website.


Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins. Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

APIS and ESTA - important flight information:

ESTA - if flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online.

This costs $14 per person. This must be done by you personally.
Passports must also be machine-readable (MRP). Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.

APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.

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