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
Arrive today in Santiago. We check in to the fine, centrally located Mandarin Oriental (or similar), and have the morning to relax. Santiago is nearly surrounded by the Andes, which form an inspiring backdrop to our afternoon guided overview of this vibrant city. We explore the Plaza de Armas, the main square, and nearby Presidential Palace, enjoying wonderful views from the many hills that dot the city. In the early evening we gather for an informal reception and a drink at the hotel.
Today we fly by private charter flight to the Falklands, arriving in Mount Pleasant with a transfer to Stanley, the capital. We have time to stroll the photogenic tin-roofed, colonial-style houses of Stanley, seeing the Anglican Cathedral with its organic archway of whale bones before embarking National Geographic Explorer.
Each Falkland Island is a variation on the theme of topographical beauty with white-sand beaches, vaulting cliffs, windswept moors, and the sunlit yellows and greens of waving tussock grass. While the Falklands boasts a human population (3,000 people in total; 2,500 of whom live in the capital, Stanley) the animals—specifically thousands of irresistible gentoo, rockhopper and Magellanic penguins, as well as magnificent albatross with 11-foot wingspans and curious fur seals—vastly outnumber them and constitute a major draw for wildlife.
During our days at sea, we learn about the fascinating history of Antarctic exploration, as well as the flora, fauna, and geology of South Georgia—and the riveting story of Sir Ernest Shackleton and the Endurance. Our naturalists help us identify the seabirds that follow us: wandering albatross, prions, and black-browed albatross. There’ll also be time to browse the library, enjoy a massage in the wellness center, or workout in the gym.
Steeped in Shackleton and whaling lore, covered mostly in glaciers, South Georgia explodes with life: gentoo and macaroni penguins, enormous snorting elephant seals, and a thriving fur seal population. Here on South Georgia—the Serengeti of the Southern Ocean—you can observe one of the world’s great wildlife spectacles: literally tens of thousands of stately king penguins on a single beach! This is also the setting for the historic adventure story of Sir Ernest Shackleton aboard the ill-fated Endurance, and we’ll visit his gravesite at Grytviken to hoist a toast.
With whales below, birds above, we voyage towards the seventh continent. 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. Each day our naturalists offer talks that add depth to your experience.
With long hours of daylight, we make the most of our days exploring the Antarctic Peninsula and surrounding islands. We’ll sail through the incomparable Lemaire Channel (conditions permitting) and land on the “White Continent,” exploring via Zodiac, kayak and on foot, and using our arsenal of tools for exploration. Our schedule is flexible, allowing us to take advantage of the unexpected—watching whales play off the bow, taking an after-dinner Zodiac cruise, or heading out on an unplanned excursion. We anticipate offering opportunities each day to hike, kayak among the ice floes, and experience close encounters with wildlife. You may have the thrill of watching our powerful ship crunch through the pack ice, or step ashore to thousands of Adelie and chinstrap penguins. Our expert staff will craft an expedition where you will learn, see and experience more.
As we sail toward 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, the southernmost city in the world. This morning's charter flight will bring us over Patagonia for spectacular views on the way 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.
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.
Free Bar Tab & Crew Tips Included on Voyages aboard NG Explorer or NG Orion
We will cover your bar tab and all tips for the crew on all National Geographic Explorer and National Geographic Orion voyages.
Terms and Conditions apply, special offer is subject to availability, please contact us for more details.