This 21 or 22 day itinerary includes Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctic Peninsula. It combines the best of the Antarctic Peninsula and South Georgia on one incredible voyage. Antarctica offers lively penguin colonies, feeding whales and unsurpassed adventure activities. Cross the majestic Scotia Sea to visit the world’s largest king penguin colonies.
About the vessel: As a modern and custom-designed ship, the Greg Mortimer (max 120 passengers) is at the cutting edge of nautical technology, featuring patented X-BOW™, hydraulic viewing platforms and environmentally friendly virtual anchoring. Four dedicated sea level launching platforms mean smoother and safer zodiac transfers. It is the perfect place to take five and recuperate after exploring – with creature comforts and well-being considered as part of the overall design. All staterooms have private bathrooms, personal storage options, twin and double-bed configuration options, ample storage, international power outlets and a daily cabin service, as well as all the basic amenities that you’ll need onboard.
09 Nov 2020 to 29 Nov 2020 (21 days – Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctic Peninsula)
08 Dec 2020 to 28 Dec 2020 (21 days – Christmas in Antarctica)
10 Mar 2021 to 31 Mar 2021 (22 days – South Georgia & Antarctic Odyssey)
Spend the day exploring Ushuaia, the southernmost city of the Americas.
After breakfast depart on a half-day city tour of Ushuaia visiting The Mission, Brown and Solier neighbourhoods, where you can see old houses belonging to the first families in Tierra del Fuego. Head 11 km out of town to Martial Glacier. The ride in the chair lift to the trails leading up to the glacier provides wonderful regional views and of Ushuaia town, the Beagle Channel and its islands. Afterwards, continue to the End of the World Museum with exhibitions explaining the history of Tierra del Fuego.
Transfer to the pier where your expedition team will warmly welcome you on board the Greg Mortimer at approximately 4.00 pm.
From the moment you step onto the Greg Mortimer, the crew aims to give you the best hospitality service possible. Meals are served in a large restaurant with family style dining, perfect to swap stories with your new expedition family. Enjoy the range of house wine, beers and soft drinks included with dinner after a long day in the wild, preparing yourself for another exciting day to follow.
Drake Passage crossing: As you commence the Drake Passage crossing, make the most of your time getting comfortable with the motions of the sea. The expedition team prepare you for your first landing with important wildlife guidelines and biosecurity procedures, and start the lecture program to help you learn more about Antarctica’s history, wildlife and environment. The wildlife experiences begin as we enjoy watching and photographing the many seabirds, including majestic albatrosses and giant petrels following in our wake. They rise and fall skilfully, using air currents created by the ship to gain momentum. The Greg Mortimer is also decked out with other facilities for your enjoyment. There is a library on Deck 7 with books and maps and a Wellness Centre complete with gym equipment, sauna and spa. Keen photographers and artists will revel in the multimedia room on deck 5.
Drake Passage & South Shetlands Islands: Nearing the tip of the South Shetland Islands on day four, the excitement is palpable with everyone converging on the bridge watching for our first iceberg. The ocean takes on a whole new perspective once we are below the Antarctic Convergence and are surrounded by the surreal presence of floating ice sculptures. The memory of your first big iceberg sighting is likely to remain with you for a lifetime. Weather permitting, we may attempt our first landing in Antarctica by late afternoon.
Let’s face it – you don’t want windowless rooms when travelling around some of the most beautiful locations around the world. This is why the Greg Mortimer is designed with plenty of dedicated observation spaces – ideal for keen bird spotters, wildlife watchers and those wanting to watch the scenery go past. From the indoor 180-degree lounge and outdoor 360-degree open deck, to the 270-degree open sundeck, there are plenty of observation points to share around the ship! If these are full, then you can take up a spot on one of the two hydraulic viewing platforms on deck 5.
Antarctic Peninsula: Over the next five days a host of choices are open to us and depending on ice and weather conditions, the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula is ours to explore. On Zodiac excursions, cruise along spectacular ice cliffs, observing whales that are feeding near the surface, and landing on the continent and its offshore islands to visit penguin rookeries, seal haulouts, historic huts and a few of our other favourite spots along the peninsula. During this voyage, there will be an opportunity to camp ashore (weather and time permitting). This will give you the chance to sample the style of adventure that Scott, Shackleton and other legendary Antarctic explorers experienced, although with a modern-day spin on it
Because you are so far south, you’ll experience approximately 18-20 hours of daylight and the days can be as busy as you wish. You’ll generally have two landings or Zodiac excursions each day; cruising along spectacular ice cliffs; following whales that are feeding near the surface; and landing on the continent and its off-shore islands to visit penguin rookeries, seal haul outs, historic huts, and a few other favourite spots along the peninsula. There will be plenty of time for sleep when you get home!
There are many exciting places to choose to visit and this itinerary is deliberately flexible to allow us to pick the best spots on the day based on ice and weather conditions. A sample of some of the types of places where you may cruise through, land, hike, photograph or view spectacular wildlife include:
– Beautiful protected bays around the Antarctic Peninsula surrounded by magnificent peaks and spectacular glaciers, areas that are havens for whales so keep your eyes open for humpbacks, orcas, minkes, and crabeater seals, as you explore bays in Zodiacs.
– Wildlife-rich islands where Weddell seals are hauled out on protected snow beds and noisy chinstrap penguins raise their families on rocky platforms; gulls nest on turrets, fur seals and elephant seals hauled out on the pebble beaches.
– Harbours home to gentoo penguins, and that regularly host Weddell seals. The scenery is dramatic towering peaks and calving glaciers surround the harbour. The thundering crack of the glaciers as they calve is sure to stop you in your tracks.
– Lemaire Channel – If ice conditions allow, standing on the observation deck of the Greg Mortimer quietly as the ship sails along the narrow Lemaire Channel could certainly be one of the highlights of our voyage. Cliffs tower 700 metres / 2,296 feet straight out of the ocean on either side of the ship. The water can sometimes be so still that perfect reflections are mirrored on the surface and it is clear to see why this Channel is often called “Kodak Alley”. Gigantic icebergs may clog the channel, creating navigational challenges for our Captain and crew; occasionally they may even obstruct our passage.
Elephant Island: Weather-permitting, you’ll set course for Elephant Island and hear the story of how Shackleton’s ship the Endurance was crushed in the pack ice in the Weddell Sea. The ship will then be moved into prime position for the eagerly awaited solar eclipse.
Scotla Sea: En route for South Georgia, head across the Scotia Sea, following the route that Shackleton and five of his men took in order to find help for the rest of their crew. As excitement builds for South Georgia, catch up with fellow expeditioners in the bar, keep watch for wildlife alongside our naturalist from the open bridge, or learn more of the Shackleton story from our historian.
The Greg Mortimer is also decked out with other facilities for your enjoyment. There is a library on Deck 7 with books and maps and a Wellness Centre complete with gym equipment, sauna and spa. Keen photographers and artists will revel in the multimedia room on deck 5.
South Georgia: With ample time to explore South Georgia’s spectacular north coast, we visit the world’s largest king penguin rookeries and the nesting grounds of majestic wandering albatross. South Georgia is one of the world’s most amazing natural environments. Just a speck in the vastness of the South Atlantic Ocean, and lying wholly within the Antarctic Convergence, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are a life-sustaining haven to some of the world’s largest congregations of wildlife. The surrounding sea is one of the most productive areas on Earth and supports the life of millions of seals, whales, penguins and other seabirds. A mountain range forms the spine of this long, narrow island.
Between the mountains, shattered glaciers carve their way through tussock grass to the deeply indented coastline – a landscape that is synonymous with the epic expedition of survival by Shackleton, Worsley, and Crean. Abandoned rusting whaling stations and remnants of explorers reflect a time of long ago, while summer workers conduct scientific and regeneration projects. If conditions permit, you’ll follow Shackleton, Worsley, and Crean’s footsteps and complete the final leg of their walk from Fortuna Bay to Stromness. Some of the places are Grytviken, St Andrews Bay, Godthul, Salisbury Plains, Fortuna Bay and Stromness.
Although the ship is fun, the real enjoyment comes from the many shore excursions that are available. Depending on the weather and itinerary, it’s possible to take two to three landings daily, taking a look at everything from rock formations and ancient ruins to cute groups of penguins. We know time is of the essence in these wild locations, so the Greg Mortimer has been designed with more Zodiacs (15) than any other Aurora ship, which means you can maximise your time on shore.
From four dedicated sea level launching platforms, transfers are quicker, safer and enable you to get closer to the action for a longer period of time. Just remember to charge your camera before you step onto the Zodiac!
When you’re relaxing during a sea day or you have a little downtime on the ship between excursions, what is there to do onboard the Greg Mortimer? Plenty!
On all expeditions, there are experts who lead presentations in the spacious lecture room so you can understand the region a little better. These often include topics as broad as history and culture to biology and climate change, these presentations aim to educate and entertain.
If you’re keen to just watch the surroundings and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, you have access to two bars/lounges where the stunning floor to ceiling windows offer a special perspective on the landscape.
Scotia Sea: We start crossing the Scotia Sea, meanwhile you will be entertained by our expert naturalist and historian. Also, keeping watch for the iconic kelp-skirted Shag Rocks. Interact with expedition staff and fellow expeditioners, enjoy fascinating, informative talks and briefings or relax while watching movies and slide shows in our comfortable theatre.
Located 477 kms east of southern Argentina, the Falklands~Malvinas are a unique mix of wildlife hotspot and inhabited outpost. An archipelago of over 700 islands, but consisting of two main islands, East and West, only seven of the islands are inhabited. The cold nutrient-rich waters surrounding the islands makes them a prime location for marine life including seabirds and seals.
Tussac grass covers much of the island providing an ideal habitat for elephant seals and sea lions that can be found on many of the island’s spectacular beaches. A plethora of birds such as thrushes, finches, tussac birds and Megallenic penguins also inhabit the tussac. Pods of orcas, Peale’s dolphins and leopard seals are regularly seen in the waters around the island.
The island’s southern giant petrels, with a wingspan of two metres, act as a welcoming party to ships as they approach Sea Lion Island. Rockhopper, gentoo and Magellanic penguins come to Sea Lion Island to breed. Macaroni, king penguins and Striated and Crested Caracaras are also common seen on the island.
Dawn greets us in the Falkland Islands capital, Stanley; where you can either enjoy more time exploring the Falkland Islands, or continue on to Punta Arenas or Santiago, Chile.
Be mesmerised by the frozen continent. Walk among handsome chinstrap and peaceful gentoo penguins. Kayakers paddle through glassy channels or Zodiac-cruise amid grounded bergs and watch for blows of humpbacks, minkes and orcas. Pinch yourself, you’re on the world’s most spectacular continent!
You may choose to spend this last sea day editing your photos, enjoying the onboard facilities, or listening to an informative lecture.
Puerto Williams: During the early morning, we slip into dock in Puerto Williams. Farewell your expedition team and transfer to the airport for your flight to Punta Arenas. Transfer to your hotel for your overnight stay.
Bid new friends goodbye as we all continue our onward journeys, hopefully with a newfound sense of the immense power of nature.