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South Georgia In Depth – Photography Symposium

Itinerary
Dates & Rates

South Georgia has rightly been called ‘the most staggering wildlife show on earth’. After our in depth exploration, we are certain you will agree. This seldom-visited corner of the planet is a place we know intimately and look forward to visiting every season. Even our experienced expedition staff, some with more than 100 journeys south, cherish every visit to South Georgia. Traditionally, our visits to South Georgia last only three or four days and are part of a much longer itinerary that includes time spent in Falkland Islands and Antarctica, but, after many years of careful preparation and planning, we can now offer our guests the unique opportunity of ten full days of exploration – more than double the time traditionally spent in South Georgia.This particular departure 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. 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 penguin chicks, 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.

Onboard Photographic Symposium

An additional highlight of this departure will be the shipboard photography symposium open to all guests. This program runs alongside our regular series of presentations on history, ornithology, geology and the natural world. The members of the photographic team each have a special area of expertise including wildlife photography, landscape and composition, along with technical elements including gear and equipment and computer based processing, file management and storage. We make regular use of our ship-board multi-media studio for breakout sessions and to review and critique our images throughout the voyage. Our photographic goals on this departure will be formed and led by the light available both onshore and on the water. With a varied and diverse itinerary and flexible plans, we aim to make the most out of the beautiful light, even if outside conventional shore landing times. For the photography buffs, this trip is not to be missed!

Itinerary

Day 1: Punta Arenas, Chile to Port Stanley, Falkland Islands - Our journey commences this morning in the southern Chilean city of Punta Arenas. We meet at a central location and transfer to the airport for our 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 are met on arrival and transferred to the pier. Stanley is currently home to just over 2,000 residents and is reminiscent of a rural town in coastal England or Scotland. It is charming 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, is a sobering reminder of recent history. There is time to explore the town, before we make our way to the ship for embarkation. 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, dinner and cast off, bound for South Georgia – and the adventure of a lifetime.

Days 2 - 3: At Sea - We chart a southeasterly course bound for South Georgia. This stretch of the South Atlantic is rich in its bio-diversity and showcases an abundance of astonishing wildlife. We will be joined by hundreds of seabirds including the wandering albatross. Giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels are also constant companions as make our way to South Georgia. Photographing these magnificent birds from the deck of the ship takes patience and skill and our photography expert will be on hand to show you the best techniques. Join the ship’s Captain on the bridge and learn about the operations of our modern research vessel. Throughout the day our onboard experts educate us with a series of presentations about the environment, wildlife and history and the locations we hope to visit in the coming days. History is a key theme of this voyage and the epic story of Shackleton is central to our journey. 

Days 4 - 7: 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 in their small lifeboat – the James Caird, after completing 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-eastern coast. We can now indulge in an in-depth exploration, navigating the ships 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 location 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 staggering abundance of king penguin 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 wildlife per square foot than any other place on the planet. You have to experience it to believe it.

The majestic ‘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 albatross - 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 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.

Days 8 - 9: Fortuna Bay, Stromness, Grytviken and central North Coast - Our adventure takes us next to Fortuna Bay, a majestic three-mile long and one-mile wide fjord. It was 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 are known to nest in the area. They are spectacular birds with magnificent plumage.

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 lifelong wish was to be buried beside Shackleton. However his wish never materialized due to the outbreak of WWII, a week after Wild’s passing in South Africa. Our voyage falls exactly four years following the transport of Wild’s ashes to South Georgia aboard our ship, and some 95 years after his last voyage with Shackleton in 1921.

Days 10 - 13: St Andrews Bay, Gold Harbour and Southeast Coast - 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 at the far eastern extremity of the island 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 ten epic days of exploration, we chart a course for South America and the most southerly city in the world - Ushuaia.

Days 14 - 16: Return to South America (Ushuaia) - 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. For some, it’s a chance to catch some well-earned rest after a busy 10 days of exploration. The wonderful lounge and bar on our ship provides fantastic panoramas and is a great place to sit with a book and a coffee. The educational presentations continue and we enjoy an entertaining and memorable voyage recap by our Expedition Leader. 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.

Days 17: Ushuaia, Argentina - 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.

Itinerary details

Voyage:
South Georgia In Depth – Photography Symposium
Duration:
16 nights / 17 days
Start:
Punta Arenas, Chile
Finish:
Ushuaia, Argentina
Vessel:
Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Dates & Rates

Dates & Rates Cabins (all Prices in US$ Dollar)
Date Triple Share Twin Semi
Private
Twin Private Superior Shackleton
Suite
One Ocean
Suite
Start Oct 15, 2016
End Oct 31, 2016
(K H S P Y W)
10,395 12,395 13,295 14,095 14,995 16,995

P = Photography.
C = Camping.
E = Enhanced Photography.
H = Hiking.
Y = Yoga.
K = Kayaking.
S = Snowshoeing.
ST = Ski Touring.
W = Whale watching.
LC = Represents a lower probability for camping.

DETAILS FOR SPECIAL ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES ON THIS VOYAGE:

Sea Kayaking – pre-booked option, fee of US$795. Maximum number of clients is 16.

Overnight Sea Kayaking – pre-booked option for those already enrolled in the standard sea kayak program. Additional fee of US$300. Sea kayak & camping experience is necessary and participation in option is dependent upon our Sea Kayak Guide approval onboard. Max number of clients is 6, min 4.

Ski Touring – pre-booked option, fee of US$750. Back country experience essential and participation in this option is dependent upon our Ski Touring Guide approval onboard. Gear is not provided by our. Please review our required gear list prior to departure. Max number of clients is 12, min 6.

Expedition Snowshoeing – pre-booked option, fee of US$45, gear is provided. Maximum 12 people.

Expedition Field Photography- pre-booked option, fee of US$45. Maximum of 18 people.

Overnight Camping - no pre-booking necessary, no additional fee, gear is provided. No maximum.

Hiking- no pre-booking necessary, no additional fee,No maximum.

Traditional Snowshoeing - no pre-booking necessary, no additional fee, gear is provided. 10 pairs of snowshoes will be available.

As with all of our expeditions, safety is our top priority. For that reason weather, ice or other conditions may require us to change our itinerary and shore excursions as we go, however that is half the fun of Polar exploring. Predictability is a word that has no relevance in this environment.

Included

  • -  Itinerary/pre-departure information

  • -  Extensive program of relevant educational presentations

  • -  Advice from experienced team of naturalists

  • -  Advice and encouragement from resident photographer

  • -  All Zodiac excursions

  • -  On board welcome reception

  • -  On board welcome dinner

  • -  One Ocean Farewell Dinner (hosted by our Captain)

  • -  All meals during the voyage prepared by onboard professional chefs

  • -  Afternoon tea with fresh snacks each afternoon

  • -  Coffee, tea, hot chocolate throughout the day

  • -  Onboard medical officer

  • -  Access to our special programs on board (such as hiking, photography)

  • -  Overnight camping- please note that this activity is free of charge, we provide all

    the necessary equipment and gear and you can decide once on board if you wish to participate – no pre booking required. Camping is only available on some departures.

  • -  Use of multimedia station. We have a multimedia room where you can download your photos at the end of the day if you wish,

  • -  Please note that the kayaking activity is an extra cost at US$795 per person (if you wish to participate please let us know at time of booking as we have limited space).

  • -  Foul weather gear set – rain jacket, bib pants and Lacrosse gumboots (wellington boots) Or SeaLine water proof backpack, Bushnell waterproof binoculars and Lacrosse gumboots (wellington boots) (Carrying Wellington boots in your luggage can add to weight limit imposed by the airlines .

  • -  Transfers from the meeting point in Ushuaia to the pier to board the ship on day 1 of the cruise and transfers from the pier to the meeting point or airport on the last day of the cruise

Not included

  • -  All airfares

  • -  Visa and passport fees, airport departure taxes

  • -  Pre-cruise or post-cruise hotel accommodation

  • -  Personal laundry charges

  • -  Personal expenses

  • -  Postage, telephone calls, drinks, medical expenses

  • -  Meals / accommodation / transfers in welcome/departure cities

  • -  Trip interruption / cancellation insurance

  • -  Travel medical insurance including medical evacuation (mandatory)

  • -  Gratuities to staff and crew