About the South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula: Penguin Safari Itinerary
Your adventure begins in Buenos Aires, where you’ll enjoy its heavily European-influenced heritage before being whisked away on a private charter flight to explore Ushuaia prior to embarkation. At sea, photograph massive albatross and pintado petrel as they swoop and soar around the ship, guiding us toward South Georgia. Beaches teeming with king penguins and elephant seals greet us on this fabled island, where we’ll pay our respects to famed explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. Antarctica awaits, with its geographic contradictions and overwhelming enormity. Relax on a Zodiac ride, hike glistening glaciers, share comical moments with inquisitive penguins, or witness the rugged peninsula from a sea kayak. Antarctica will surprise and delight, and never disappoint. Expedition in Brief: • Experience the quintessential wildlife experience of the “Galapagos of the Poles” • Visit South Georgia’s king penguin rookeries – the largest in the world • Reflect at the resting place of the great explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton • Visit abandoned whaling stations and learn stories of inhabitants who called this island home • Enjoy on-board lecturers and educational presentations from polar specialists • Arrive in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the tango capital of the world, and let us take care of the rest of the journey
Day 1 — Buenos Aires, Argentina
You may arrive in Buenos Aires at any time during Day 1 of the itinerary. Upon your arrival in this splendid city, known for its rich architecture and European heritage, you will independently transfer to the group hotel (pre-night hotel included).
Day 2 — Charter Flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, Argentina and Embarkation
After breakfast at the hotel, the group will transfer to the airport and board our private charter flight to Ushuaia, Argentina.
Upon arrival, you will have a little time to explore this quaint port town before heading to the pier.
Embarkation will occur in the late afternoon, after which your vessel will sail down the historic Beagle Channel. This famous channel transects the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in the extreme south of South America. Think of the Beagle Channel as the tasty appetizer before your main course arrives. You will want to get out on deck and keep your eyes open as there are several bird species to capture your attention and test your photography skills.
Days 3 to 5 — At Sea
The expedition team will keep you busy by testing your knowledge of seabirds, penguins and the history of South Georgia as they begin their educational lecture program. Your first days will include time to get acquainted with fellow travelers and learning about the shore landings, Zodiac excursions and kayaking opportunities that await you.
Days 6 to 8 — South Georgia
The first indication that you are approaching South Georgia is the sighting of birds around a group of rocky spires called Shag Rocks. Rising out of the icy ocean waters, have your binoculars and cameras ready to photograph these rocks. Shags, prions and wandering albatross often rest here.
After enjoying South Georgia from a distance, we’ll head towards its dark sandy beaches to find a protected bay for your first land excursion. Landing sites on South Georgia are varied, and are largely determined by the weather conditions of your voyage. Whichever landing sites we visit, they’ll provide you with wildlife encounters that cannot be enjoyed anywhere else on earth.
This is one of the most fertile breeding grounds in the world for sub-Antarctic wildlife, with beaches littered with penguins – in particular king and macaroni penguins. Many rookeries number into the 100s of thousands! It won’t take you long to realize that South Georgia is a paradise for bird lovers as burrowing seabirds, albatross and petrels can be seen in abundance.
You’ll find that South Georgia is also scattered with abandoned relics and evidence of human activity from centuries gone by. Once a popular base for whalers and sealers, Captain James Cook first reported on the abundance of wildlife here in 1775. His report resulted in an almost complete decimation of fur seals and a drastic decline in both whale and elephant seal populations.
Your expedition team will help bring those days to life for you, as you’ll visit old whaling stations and enjoy lectures and presentations on the South Georgia of then and now. Thankfully, you’ll witness that many species have seen a remarkable population rebound on the island.
One of the most significant sites you will visit on the island is located on Grytviken. This is one of the first whaling stations established in sub-antarctic waters. Many travelers find this place of special appeal as it is home to the remains of one of the best known Antarctic explorers, Sir Ernest Shackleton.
Days 9 & 10 — At Sea
Antarctica awaits, along with its own penguin and seal species. While you’re at sea, you can enjoy quiet time or take in presentations by the expedition team, which will cover everything from the history and geology of Antarctica to tips on identifying different species and what makes each of them unique.
Days 11 to 13 — Antarctic Peninsula
The most common reaction to arriving at the White Continent is a sense of reverence and awe. The experience is hard to put into words. You will discover that Antarctica is a land of extremes: at one moment you’ll be overcome with a feeling of complete silence and loneliness, the next you’ll be laughing at the comical antics of a curious penguin.
Glacier hikes, visits to research bases and, of course, communing with seals and penguins are sure to keep you smiling each and every day. Perhaps you’ll catch sight of the fearless penguin-eater, the leopard seal, or come eye–to–eye with a curious minke whale while out on a Zodiac. Each day and each landing will present a new collection of creatures to entertain you and keep your camera busy.
If you find yourself wanting more, then perhaps you’ll treat yourself by booking our kayaking Adventure Option (reserve in advance when booking your trip), or if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, a little shock therapy courtesy of a Polar Plunge might be what you need!
Days 14 & 15 — Crossing the Drake Passage
After more than a dozen days of memorable wildlife encounters, your journey home begins. Crossing the Drake is your unofficial rite of passage, putting a final stamp of completion on your Antarctic adventure.
Day 16 — Disembarkation in Ushuaia and Charter Flight to Buenos Aires
We will arrive in Ushuaia in the morning after breakfast. After disembarkation, we will taste a little of Patagonia by touring Tierra del Fuego National Park before we transfer to the airport for the return group charter flight to Buenos Aires.
Welcome Aboard the Ocean Diamond
The Ocean Diamond is a modern, stable super-yacht, excellent for experiencing Antarctica. The ship carries a maximum of 189 passengers and features onboard amenities such as a massage and wellness program, a heated swimming pool and a well-stocked polar library. The Ocean Diamond is staffed with outstanding officers, expedition leaders, and guides.
- Guests: 189
- Staff & Crew: 144
- Length: 124 meters
- Breadth: 16 meters
- Draft: 4.9 meters
- Propulsion: 2 Wichmann Engines, 7375 horsepower
- Ice Class: 1D
- Cruising speed: 15.5 knots
- Lifeboats: 4 fully enclosed
Cabins & Amenities
- Remote headsets available for remote presentations.
- Massage & Wellness Program, Photography Program
- Optional camping, kayaking, snowshoeing, skiing & mountaineering.
- Polar Library & Expert in Residence Program
- One-year enrollment in Friends of Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI)
- All cabins and suites have private facilities & exterior views.
- All cabins have flat-screen TV, DVD player.
- Passenger elevator.
- Bar staffed by a professional bartender.
- Theater-style auditorium.
- Photography program includes the services of a resident photography instructor.
- Polar Library contains the largest collection of polar books & DVDs.
- Massage & Wellness program offers yoga classes, aromatherapy treatments & massage therapy.
- Cruise Price does not include international airfare. Port charges are included. All cabins are outside, with two lower beds and private shower and toilet. Rates are per person based on double occupancy.
- Single cabin prices are 1.7 times the cost of the appropriate twin-share prices listed above except for superior and above which are 2x the price listed above.
- All trips subject to possible fuel surcharge.
- Kayaking – $995 (for those who want to kayak during entire voyage & have previous experience) OR
- Paddling – $225 (for those w/o experience who want to kayak one time during the voyage)
- Camping – $295
- Adventure options must be pre-booked and paid for prior to start of the trip. Space is subject to availability. Some activities require experience.
- Shipboard accommodation with daily housekeeping
- All shore landings per the daily program
- Leadership throughout the voyage by our experienced Expedition Leader
- All Zodiac transfers and cruising per the daily program
- Formal and informal presentations by our Expedition Team and guest speakers as scheduled
- Photographic Journal on DVD, documenting the voyage
- A pair of waterproof expedition boots on loan for shore landings
- An official Quark Expeditions parka to keep
- Coffee, tea and cocoa available around the clock
- Hair dryer and bathrobes in every cabin
- Comprehensive pre-departure materials, including a map and an informative Antarctic Reader
- All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program
- All luggage handling aboard the ship
- Emergency Evacuation Insurance for all passengers to a maximum benefit of US$100,000 per person
- Pre-night hotel in Ushuaia with breakfast included
- Group transfer to hotel upon arrival in Ushuaia
$5,900 – $8,650
$14,295 – $27,795
$12,500 – $24,900