Deep in the South Indian Ocean lies Heard and McDonald Islands. Only a handful of people have
ever visited these islands. These include a few scientists, a handful of tourists and (in a few years
immediately after its discovery) sealers and shipwrecked mariners.
These islands are 4,100 kilometres south-west of Perth, just 1,000 kilometres from the Antarctic
continent and they are a world class Nature Reserve and World Heritage Site. This unique voyage gives you a once in a lifetime opportunity to spend at least three days at Heard Island and neighbouring McDonald Island (no landings permitted on McDonald) experiencing Australia’s only active volcano and highest mountain, Big Ben, along with a multitude of resident breeding
Antarctic Fur Seal, Southern Elephant Seal and King Penguins, all previously heavily exploited are
now recovering. Gentoo, Macaroni and Rockhopper Penguins also breed here. The islands discovery
and history are colourful and there is still a lot of artefacts and evidence from this period. It is a mountainous, wild and strange environment: recent satellite images show glaciers alongside lava flows.
Our last expedition to Heard Island was in 2002 when we enjoyed a number of successful landings.
We will also spend a number of days at sea where we will have the opportunity to watch
and photograph seabirds and cetaceans as we sail through these wildlife rich areas. We will sail as
close as the French authorities will permit to Amsterdam, St Paul and Kerguelen Islands. It’s in this region we have our best chance of seeing one of the world’s rarest seabirds, the Amsterdam albatross.
South Indian Ocean itinerary:
Day 1: Port of Fremantle, Australia
Embark the vessel in Fremantle, Western Australia, complete formalities and set sail.
Days 2 to 10: At Sea
You are invited to join the officers and crew on the bridge as we sail west then south. Indulge in some
birding and wildlife spotting or experience first-hand the work that goes into running our expedition
vessel. Learn about the Southern Ocean, the Subantarctic Islands and their flora and fauna in lectures
from our experts, or just relax in the ship’s bar and library.
While at sea there will be many opportunities to watch for seabirds and cetaceans. This is a seldom
visited region so it is not certain just what species we may encounter. We will be mapping and recording those that we do see. We will sail as close as allowed to Iles Amsterdam and Iles St Paul
where we hope to get sightings of the Amsterdam (Wandering) Albatross along with the Yellownosed
Albatross, Sooty Albatross, Flesh-footed Shearwater, Little Shearwater, Broad-billed Prion, White-bellied Storm Petrel, Antarctic Tern, Soft-plumaged Petrel and many other pelagic bird species.
We will cross the Antarctic convergence before reaching Heard Island.
Days 11 to 13: Heard Island
We plan at least three days of landings on this remote, uninhabited Subantarctic Island. The human
history of these islands immediately after discovery was predictably brutal with sealers hunting these
animals almost to extinction. Australia operated a research station in the late 1940s but the
island is now uninhabited and visited very infrequently. It remains one of the few places on earth
believed to contain no species directly introduced by humans. The number of tourist landings can
be counted on one hand: the last expedition of any significance was our own 2002 expedition which
we spent two magnificent days exploring on a number of landings.
Antarctic Fur Seal and Southern Elephant Seal both previously heavily exploited are now found in good numbers on the volcanic sand beaches. King Gentoo, Macaroni and Rockhopper Penguins also breed here. Other breeding seabirds include Black-browed and Light-mantled Sooty Albatross Southern Royal, Sooty, Indian Yellow-nosed and Grey-headed Albatrosses have been recorded offshore), Cape and Southern Giant Petrels, Antarctic and Fulmar Prions, Wilson’s Storm Petrel (Blackbellied, White-bellied plus Greybacked Storm Petrels have all been recorded offshore), Common and South Georgia Diving Petrels, Blackfaced Sheathbill and the endemic Heard Island Shag. Recorded offshore tubenoses include Southern Fulmar, Blue Petrel, Northern Giant Petrel, Slender-billed Prion, Broadbilled Prion, Snow, White-chinned, Grey, Barau’s, Kerguelen, Mottled, White-headed, Great-winged, Softplumaged and Antarctic Petrels! Subantarctic (Brown) Skua breeds, along with Kelp Gulls and Antarctic Terns.
When sea and weather conditions are suitable we plan landings at Atlas Cove, abandoned site of the ANARE base at Spit Beach and Long Beach. All these sites have artefacts and evidence from the
sealing period; they also have good concentrations of wildlife. Please note the planned landings
at Heard Island will require all ship’s staff and passengers who go ashore to be wearing completely sterile clothing and boots, the vessel will provide these for all and the cost of this is reflected in the landing fees for the voyage.
Weather dependent we hope to spend some time around McDonald Islands (no landings permitted). The McDonald Islands are 44 kilometres west of Heard Island and are small and rocky. The volcano on McDonald Island, after being dormant for 75,000 years, became active in 1992 and has erupted several times since dramatically changing the shape and size of the island.
Days 14 to 24: At Sea
We continue back to Albany and hopefully with strong westerlies behind us we anticipate a fast
sailing. Travelling along the Antarctic convergence for part of this we will maintain high vigilance
for the all the sea and bird life we will encounter along the way. With favourable weather you might
find yourself out on deck enjoying the sun and you have time to relax and reflect on an amazing journey
into a wilderness on the edge of the earth. Recap the highlights with the crew and enjoy a farewell dinner as we sail the last leg of our journey.
Day 25: Port of Albany, Australia
Finding final harbour once more in the deep water Port of Albany, we disembark and our adventure end with fond farewells and memories that will be long-treasured. After clearing Australian Customs, a
coach will transfer you to the airport or to the nearby bustling town. For travel arrangements post
expedition, we ask that you make bookings after 1 p.m. to allow time for disembarkation procedures and the vagaries of the weather.
During our voyage, circumstances may make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the proposed
itinerary. This can include poor weather and opportunities for making unplanned excursions. Your
Expedition Leader will keep you fully informed.
Spirit of Enderby
The Spirit of Enderby is a fully ice-strengthened expedition vessel, built in 1984 for polar and oceanographic research and is perfect for Expedition Travel.
She carries just 50 passengers and was refurbished in November 2004 to provide comfortable accommodation in twin share cabins approximately half of which have private facilities. All cabins have outside windows or portholes and ample storage space.
On board there is a combined bar/library lounge area and a dedicated lecture room. The cuisine is excellent and is prepared by top NZ and Australian chefs.
The real focus and emphasis of every expedition is getting you ashore as often as possible for as long as possible with maximum safety and comfort. Our Expeditions are accompanied by some of the most experienced naturalists and guides, who have devoted a lifetime to field research in the areas that we visit. The ship is crewed by a very enthusiastic and most experienced Russian Captain and crew.
The name Spirit of Enderby honours the work and the vision of the Enderby Brothers of London. The Enderby Captains were at the forefront of Antarctic exploration for almost 40 years in the early 1800’s. It also celebrates Enderby Island, arguably the greatest Subantarctic Island in the world.
a) our fleet of RIB’s, (rigid inflatable boats) sometimes referred to as zodiacs. These extremely safe and stable craft will land you at some of the most amazing places.
- Heritage Suite: Has a large lounge area, a separate bedroom with double bed, a single bed in the lounge, writing desk, wardrobe, drawers. There is a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. There are large forward and side facing windows to allow great views.
- Mini Suites: Have a separate bedroom with a double bed and a single bed or a sofa in the lounge, wardrobe, drawers, a desk and a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. The Mini Suites have windows.
- Superior Plus cabins: Have two lower berths, wardrobe, drawers, desk, a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows.
- Superior cabins: Have bunks (an upper and lower berth), wardrobe, drawers, a desk, a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows.
- Main deck cabins: Have two lower berths, wardrobe, drawers, a desk, washbasin and porthole. The nearby showers and toilets are shared with other Main deck cabins.
- Main deck triple: Has one bunk (one upper and one lower) and one lower berth, wardrobe, drawers, a desk and wash basin. The nearby showers and toilets are shared with other Main deck cabins.
Vessel Type: Expedition
Length: 72 meters
Beam: 13 meters
Speed (average): 10 knots
Built / refurbished: 1984 / 2004
Capacity: 48 (twin & triple cabins)