The ultimate Southern Ocean experience, this expedition takes you into majestically spectacular wildness. Not even the vast migrations of Africa can rival the awesomeness of seeing a king penguin colony of tens of thousands individuals stretching as far as the eye can see. Or albatross colonies that fill the windward edges of the remote islands they call home. You’ll have other rare sightings here too: massive, in both senses of the word, herds of elephant seals: and a wandering albatross stretching its 11-foot wings. It’s the impossible beauty of Antarctica exponentially increased by unimaginable numbers of animals. A not-be-missed polar experience, for those with the luxury of time.
For most travelers, visiting Antarctica is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So, for those with the luxury of time, optimizing your time and interest by including South Georgia and the Falklands makes sense. And makes for a genuine experience-of-a-lifetime. This voyage has it all.
Incomparable wildlife experience
Only the plains of the Serengeti during the migrations can compare to the wildlife spectacles offered by both South Georgia and the Falklands. In South Georgia you’ll see a single rookery with tens of thousands of king penguins—an astonishing sight and an indelible memory. In the Falklands, you’ll see rockhopper penguins in great number in their “hobbit shire” of the tussock grass. And, in both, you’ll have the rare opportunity to see albatross in great numbers—wandering albatross with their impressive 11-foot wing spans; and beautiful black-browed albatross—in colonies that fill the windward ledges of these southernmost islands. These, plus elephant and fur seals, pelagic birds in great numbers, and various species of whales feasting on the Southern Ocean’s seasonal bounty create unprecedented wildlife viewing experiences for you.
Add the human dimension to the ice
From the ghostly remnants of the whaling stations that once peopled South Georgia, to the warmly welcoming ranchers of Port Stanley on the Falklands, and the penguin-adapted researchers of Port Lockroy, a picturesque science station off the otherwise unpeopled Weddell Sea coast, you’ll experience the contrast between the majestic, uninhabited wildness of Antarctica, and the unique human incursions into the land of the ice.
Every day is active and engaging
You’ll get out on adventures every day we’re in Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands. The Falklands are ideal for walking adventures, with some hikes ending in a “cream tea” served in the parlor of a welcoming farmhouse. In all locations, your expedition leader will enable daily Zodiac cruises and kayak expeditions too, sometimes twice a day—creating the opportunity for you to experience the wonders with all your senses, at water-level or eye-level. You’ll have a choice of activities plus your choice of naturalists to join—for a movable feast of personalities, insights, and interests. Choice also includes opting to relax, too. Enjoy the view from behind Explorer’s panoramic glass windows. Or visit the fitness center with its generous views of the ice vistas, or ease into the sauna or a massage in the wellness center.
Informal ambience, relaxed attitude
Explore under the sure guidance of an expedition leader, eight veteran naturalists, a National Geographic photographer, plus a National Geographic certified photo instructor, an undersea specialist, and a wellness specialist. Their knowledge and passion for the fascinating Antarctic and sub-Antarctic region is the key to your extraordinary experience
Guests traveling aboard National Geographic Explorer arrive this morning in cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, set on the Rio de la Plata, and check in to the fine Alvear Art Hotel (or similar). In the afternoon, we have a guided overview of the city, seeing its Beaux Arts palaces, grand boulevards, and the famous balcony forever associated with Eva Peron. In the early evening we gather for an informal reception and a drink at the hotel.
Today we fly by private charter flight to Ushuaia. This morning's charter flight will bring us over Patagonia before landing in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. If the weather is fine, you'll have a chance to view the spectacular mountains rising out of the Beagle Channel as you enjoy lunch on a catamaran cruise. Then, you'll embark the expedition ship and set sail.
You'll awake this morning into your journey across the Drake Passage. Lying between Cape Horn and the Antarctic Peninsula, the Drake holds a unique place in maritime lore. The Drake Passage is unforgettable-a milestone in any adventurer's personal travel history—with time to hear talks preparing you for the exciting days ahead.
With long hours of daylight, we make the most of our days exploring the Antarctic Peninsula and surrounding islands. Our schedule is flexible, allowing us to take advantage of the unexpected. We’ll sail through the incomparable Lemaire Channel and land on the “White Continent,” exploring via Zodiac, kayak and on foot, and using our arsenal of tools for exploration.
As we voyage, head up to the Bridge to watch for icebergs and observe expert navigation at work as our skilled Captain and officers sail these historic waters. There’ll also be time to enjoy a massage in the wellness center, workout in the gym, and browse in the library. Each day our naturalists offer talks that add depth to your experience.
Explore the spectacular coastline of South Georgia Island. In keeping with the nature of an expedition, our schedule is flexible with opportunities for walking, hiking, kayaking and Zodiac excursions, making stops every day as we leisurely circumnavigate the island. Teeming wildlife and breathtaking scenery greet our ship as our Zodiacs make landfall. We plan to visit Grytviken, part of the extraordinary story of the Endurance and the final resting place of Sir Ernest Shackleton, as well as Stromness Bay where Shackleton, Tom Crean and Frank Worsley finally reached aid at a whaling station. See huge elephant seals, and, on a single beach, you will visit a vast colony of tens of thousands of king penguins!
Whales beneath, birds above, as you continue on. Our naturalists will prepare us for the exciting days ahead with presentations on the wildlife and history of the Falkland Islands.
The Falklands boast the largest albatross colony in the world, irresistible Magellanic penguins in their burrows amid the green tussock grass and herds of enormous elephant seals. Stroll the photogenic tin-roofed, Victorian-style houses of Port Stanley. Visit the Anglican Cathedral with its organic archway of whalebones, and the Falkland Islands Museum.
As we sail back to Ushuaia, an albatross or two may join the escort of seabirds that cross our bow. There’s time to share photos with the onboard National Geographic photographer, catch up on the book you haven’t had a minute to read, and write emails home, saying “don’t want this to end.”
After breakfast, we disembark in Ushuaia with some time to explore before proceeding to the airport for our LAN charter flight (Ushuaia to Buenos Aires) Please confirm departure and arrival cities with an Expedition Specialist before booking your flights.
All day-by-day breakdowns are a sampling of the places we intend to visit, conditions permitting.
Main Deck with one or two Portholes #301-308
Main Deck with Window #317-320, 335-336
Main Deck with Window #313-316, 321-328, 337-340, 342, 344, 346, 348, 350 Triples: Main Deck with WIndow #341, 343
Upper and Veranda Decks with Window #103-104, 107-108, 201-202, 204-207, 210, 212, 217, 226, 228
Solo A Main Deck with Window #309-312, 329-334
Solo B Upper and Veranda Decks with Window #105-106, 203, 208
Upper Deck with Balcony #209, 211, 214, 216, 218, 220-222, 224
Veranda Deck–Suite #101-102; Upper Deck-Suite with Balcony #213 Triples: #101-102
Upper Deck–Suite with Balcony #215, 219, 230 All cabins are available as triples.
Flight Buenos Aires/Ushuaia return from : 1120 AUD pp
National Geographic Explorer
Vessel Type: Luxury Expedition
Length: 108 meters
Passenger Capacity: 148 (single & twin cabins)
Built / Refurbished: 1982 / 2008
National Geographic Explorer is a state-of-the-art expedition ship. It is a fully stabilized, ice-class vessel, enabling it to navigate polar passages while providing exceptional comfort. It carries kayaks and a fleet of Zodiac landing craft. An Undersea Specialist operates a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and sophisticated video equipment, extending access to the underwater world.
Public areas: Bistro Bar; Chart Room; Restaurant; Global Gallery; Library, Lounge with full service bar and state-of-the-art facilities for films, slideshows and presentations; Mud Room with lockers for expedition gear, and Observation Lounge. Our “Open Bridge” provides guests an opportunity to meet our Officers and Captain and learn about navigation.
Meals: Served in single seatings with unassigned tables for an informal atmosphere and easy mingling. Menu is international with local flair.
Cabins: All cabins face outside with windows or portholes, private facilities and climate controls.
Expedition Equipment: Zodiac landing craft, kayaks, Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), hydrophone, SplashCam, underwater video camera, Crow’s Nest remote controlled camera, video microscope, snorkeling gear.
Special Features: A full-time doctor, Undersea Specialist, LEX Photo Specialist and Video Chronicler, Internet Cafe and laundry.
Wellness: The vessel is staffed by two Wellness Specialists and features a glass enclosed Fitness Center, outdoor stretching area, two LEXspa treatment rooms and Sauna.