Wildlife Group Tour

Antarctica Cruise - Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula

19 days

from £13,995pp
  • A five star expedition ship at the best price - RCGS Resolute guarantees a comfortable cruise
  • A comprehensive voyage of the wildlife hotspots of South Georgia, Antarctica and the Falklands
  • A dedicated crew with genuine expertise alongside our own Steppes' leaders, soon to be announced

For anybody with a love of wildlife and wild places, an expedition voyage to the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula is the ultimate experience. Nothing quite prepares one for the epic scale of Antarctica or the amazing sense of space. Towering ice cliffs, gigantic glaciers, bergs the size of skyscrapers – little wonder that Roald Amundsen wrote of Antarctica, that “the land looks like a fairy-tale”.

The wildlife is equally as spellbinding. None more so than the penguin colony of Salisbury Plain on South Georgia. Home to over 200,000 king penguins, the visual spectacle is extraordinary; so too the sounds and smells.

Antarctic itinerary - a toast to Ernest Shackleton on South Georgia 

Our main priority for this trip was the itinerary. South Georgia and the Falklands were "must-haves" as the wildlife here is prolific. Huge rookeries of Rockhopper, Magellanic and king penguins can be seen on the open plains of the islands while significant numbers of both fur seals and the larger elephant seals can be found on the dark, volcanic sandy beaches. Seabirds are also abundant around South Georgia and the Falklands, with wandering and black-browed albatross particularly thriving. On South Georgia, the group will trek to Shackleton's grave and raise a toast to "The Boss".

Our next non-negotiable was the Antarctic Peninsula. Sea ice is broken up at this time in the season which increases the number of landing sites along the peninsula and on the South Shetland Islands. Take a gentle trek to a high point, find a quiet spot and reflect on the sense of openness and space. We are very excited at the prospect of following in Shackleton's footsteps and attempting to make a landing on Elephant Island.

Wildlife on the peninsula is remarkable and at this time of year chinstrap, gentoo and Adelie penguins can be seen rearing young chicks. Marine wildlife is also rich in this area with humpback, minke and orca whales frequently seen.

RCGS Resolute - an ice-strengthened, luxury ship

The RCGS Resolute is a purpose-built polar expedition vessel; modern, well-appointed and ice-strengthened, with a capacity to carry 146 passengers (although usually limited to 120). With two separate bar and lounge areas featuring 180-degree views, she has space and facilities to ensure a comfortable experience on board. There is a choice of two dining rooms, one offers a popular bistro menu with quick and easy meals for those prioritising time out on deck. Other facilities include a theatre-style presentation room, gymnasium, wellness centre, hot water spa, sauna and steam room and saltwater pool.

While the emphasis of a Steppes’ voyage in Antarctica will always be the experience had off the ship, we take every step to ensure you are comfortable, well-fed and entertained when on board.

Expeditionary style of travel

Just as important as the destinations visited on the voyage, was finding a partner in Antarctica whom shares our commitment to delivering an expeditionary style of trip. The staff and crew of the Resolute have years of experience - between them, they have seen over 20 million penguins - in operating safe, informative and exhilarating Antarctic experiences. Expeditionary cruising is about making the most of every opportunity, stopping to see wildlife when it appears, changing the order of landing sites to better suit weather and sea conditions. The emphasis is on getting off the ship as much as possible and getting Antarctic snow on your boots, maximising the extended daylight hours. Zodiac safaris, hiking, kayaking, camping on the ice and polar plunges are possible on our Antarctic cruise, the aim is be off the ship at least twice a day when not at sea. On board, there will be a fascinating programme of talks and lectures, ranging from natural history to the history of polar exploration.

Why discover Antarctica with steppes travel?

We know what makes a fantastic holiday to Antarctica. We have been arranging expeditions to Antarctica for over 15 years and the team having visited 11 times so far.
Our Antarctic charter in 2017 was a huge success with 98% of our clients rating the trip as either ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’ in their post-travel questionnaires. For our trip to Antarctica in 2019, we have taken an allocation of 30 cabins - approximately half the ship, on the RCGS Resolute. We have made a few refinements to our 2017 voyage, with the main difference being an upgrade of ship in order to provide a more comfortable platform from which to explore. 

Is January-February a good time to be visiting Antarctica?

The Antarctic season runs from November to March and during this time there is not a bad time to visit. Travelling in late January/early February, however, has many added benefits:

  • Heightened whale activity - at the very beginning of the season the whales are only intent on feeding and so sightings are less frequent. As the season progresses the whales become more inquisitive, making for memorable sightings and exceptional photographic opportunities. 
  • Reduced sea ice - by late January, the sea ice is less thick making access to some of Antarctica's more secluded sites possible. The bigger bergs are visible all year round and are a favourite subject for photography.
  • Penguin chicks are active - the chicks are gaining in strength and confidence by this time in the season and so are very mobile and active. Interaction with parents and other chicks makes for great sightings.
  • Good time for seeing massive numbers of king penguins - by the time our Antarctic charter reaches South Georgia, the king penguin colonies will be heaving as the birds will have all returned from feeding in the southern ocean. Some will already have chicks while others will be mating.
  • Beaches in South Georgia are more accessible - elephant seals mate during November and December and so at this time, access to South Georgia's beaches can be a challenge - it is not advisable to get in between a 2,000 kg elephant seal and the object of his affection. When our Antarctic charter anchors off South Georgia the mating should be over and so access to the rugged beaches will be less hazardous.


Departing on:
  • 30th January 2019

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

STARTFINISHPrice Excluding Flights £Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour LecturerStatus 
30th Jan 2019 17th Feb 2019 £ 13,995 call call Sue Flood Available
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • All excursions and landings
  • Loan of wellington boots, expedition jacket & over trousers
  • Optional overnight camping inc equipment; subject to weather
  • Post voyage photographic expedition log
  • Services of expedition staff onboard
  • Voyage on a full board basis

what is excluded

  • Airport taxes payable locally
  • Drinks, laundry and items of a personal nature
  • Flights to and from the UK and Ushuaia
  • Pre and post voyage accommodation package
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Travel insurance
  • Visas

TO ALLOW FLEXIBILITY, OUR GROUP TOURS DO NOT INCLUDE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS AS STANDARD. WE CAN ARRANGE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS ON YOUR BEHALF AND THE ABOVE IS AN INDICATION OF COST, BASED ON RETURN FLIGHTS DEPARTING FROM LONDON. ALL INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS FROM THE UK ARE ATOL PROTECTED.

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Welcome aboard in Ushuaia
Have the morning at leisure to explore Ushuaia, the most southerly town in the world. The location is fantastic, with views over the Beagle Channel and across to the Chilean Island of Navarino

Later today transfer to the pier and embark the comfortable expedition ship - RCGS Resolute. Meet with the captain and crew then settle into your home for the next couple of weeks and enjoy a welcome drink. Set sail in the early evening charting a course through the scenic Beagle Channel, plan to be on deck for this part of the journey as the light of the late, setting sun is a photographer's dream.

Situated on the southern shore of Tierra del Fuego, Ushuaia is the most southerly town in the world. Founded in 1884, the town was a penal colony until 1947. The location is fantastic, with views over the Beagle Channel and across to the Chilean Island of Navarino. Ushuaia can be either the jump off point for Antarctic cruises or the base from which to explore Tierra Del Fuego National Park and The Beagle Channel.


Expeditionary Cruising
This is an expeditionary voyage so the itinerary is flexible. Expeditionary cruising is about making the most of every opportunity, stopping to see wildlife when it appears, changing the order of landing sites to better suit weather and sea conditions. The emphasis is on getting off the ship as much as possible and the aim is to be off at least twice a day when not at sea.

There will be a team of naturalist guides leading the daily excursions and giving daily lectures and informal talks during the trip. Having spent many years guiding in Antarctica they have many tales to tell and are always happy to share their experiences. There will be plenty of time to pick their brains during sea crossings or when they join you for meals.


You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 2

Southern Ocean towards the Falklands
Today is at sea, sailing northeast towards the Falkland Islands. During the journey watch as hundreds of seabirds fly near the ship, you are likely to see the wandering albatross, giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels. Photographing these magnificent birds from the deck of the ship takes patience and skill but your onboard photography expert will be on hand to demonstrate the best techniques.

During the sailing spend time with the onboard Antarctic experts. Learn about the wonders of Antarctica through a series of lectures on the environment, wildlife and history of the locations that will be visited in the coming days.


You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 3

West Falkland Islands
During the night you will arrive in the Falkland Islands. After breakfast, set out on your first shore excursion to explore the islands of the west Falkland archipelago, home to a wide range of avifauna, including the black-browed albatross.

Have the chance to spot penguins for the first time, including the comical rockhoppers, on the island of West Point. On Carcass Island, observe nesting Magellanic penguins, as well as oystercatchers, geese, striated cara cara and flightless steamer ducks - all permanent Falkland residents.


You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 4

East Falkland Islands
Today make a stop in Stanley, the charming capital that resembles an English village complete with pub, red telephone and post box. Wander through the quaint streets of brightly painted houses, have a look in the small shops or stop for a pint in the pub. Consider a stop in Stanley's famed philatelic museum, with its impressive collection of historic stamps or choose to take a walk along the harbour front, which is lined with a range of monuments, including the mast of the SS Great Britain.


You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 5

At Sea Sailing to South Georgia
Continue southeast heading for the wild and remote island of South Georgia which is rich in wildlife. Pass the time scanning the horizon in search of whales and other marine mammals, as well as seabirds that are constant companions wheeling around the ship.

The on-board experts will continue their informal lectures during these days at sea. Learn of the daredevil exploits of some of the earliest Antarctic explorers in whose footsteps you will be following.


You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 6

Sailing to South Georgia
Feel the anticipation grow as the ship crosses the Antarctic Convergence and the temperature drops dramatically. The jagged spikes of Shag Rocks may be your first sighting of South Georgia's westernmost extreme.


You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 7

Discovering South Georgia
Welcome to South Georgia, an island that has been described as 'the most staggering wildlife show on earth'.

Your three days of exploration of South Georgia begin in the vicinity of Elsehul Bay where majestic snow-covered mountains dominate the skyline. Large numbers of fur seals and the much larger elephant seal line up on the dark sand beaches. The landings in the next few days will be determined by the local weather conditions.


You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 8

South Georgia
One of the highlights of South Georgia is the king penguin colonies. Living in the tussock grass, king penguins and their chicks may number up to 200,000 birds in some locations, including Salisbury Plain, St Andrew's Bay and Gold Harbour. As you wander among the penguins, don't be surprised if the inquisitive creatures come and peck your boots as their curiosity gets the better of them. Nothing can quite prepare you for the cacophony of noises and smells of these huge colonies.

The island is also home to large numbers of nesting albatross which can be seen filling the skies, coming and going from the nest.


You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 9

South Georgia
As well as the wildlife, South Georgia is a thrilling location for history buffs. During your time on the island visit the graves of the Antarctic explorers, Sir Ernest Shackleton (known as 'The Boss') and Frank Wild.

The rusting relics of the early whaling industry can be seen slowly disintegrating at old stations on the beaches at Leith, Husvik and Stromness. A highlight is a visit to Grytviken - the largest of the whaling stations, situated at the head of Cumberland Bay. There may be an opportunity to spend time exploring the small museum and accompanying church with its fascinating library.


You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 10

Three Days Sailing to Antarctica and Elephant Island
Today, the Resolute begins the longest sea crossing of the trip, sailing from South Georgia to the Antarctic Peninsula. There will be time to look through your photos from South Georgia and prepare for time on the Antarctic peninsula. Weather and ice will dictate the crossing of the Scotia Sea, taking in the South Orkney Islands or Elephant Island.


You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 11

Sailing to Antarctica
Depending on the route you may pass by the South Orkney Islands. The isolated islands represent the peaks of a submarine mountain range called the Scotia Arc, connecting South Georgia to the South Shetland Islands.


You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 12

Sailing to Antarctica and Elephant Island
Sailing ever closer to the frozen continent, large icebergs announce the ship's arrival into Antarctic waters. If conditions allow see the dark cliffs of Elephant Island appear on the horizon. Shackleton and his men were encamped here for many months, having lost HMS Endurance in the thick sea ice, far to the south in the Weddell Sea in 1915. From the tiny beach at Point Wild, Shackleton and six companions set off on the rescue mission to South Georgia, aboard the tiny lifeboat, James Caird. To this day, the epic ocean crossing is considered one of the greatest in history. If conditions allow, attempt a landing at Point Wild on Elephant Island.


You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 13

Exploring the South Shetlands
Around 60 miles off the coast of the Antarctic mainland lie the South Shetland Island chain. To explore this archipelago, landings will be attempted at either King George Island, Half Moon Island, Yankee Harbour or Hannah Point. Weather conditions permitting, sail into the flooded volcanic caldera of Deception Island. There are some outstanding hikes at these locations and the old whaling station and aircraft hangar at Deception Island are fascinating sites.


You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 14

Exploring the Antarctic Peninsula
After much anticipation enter the icy waters of the Antarctic Peninsula close to Mikkelson Harbour or Cierva Cove. Over the next three days there will be a choice of activities on offer, dependent on weather and ice condiitions, ranging from walks and zodiac rides to kayaking (this is at an extra cost and needs to be booked before travel).

In the bays and harbours of the peninsula lives an incredible abundance of wildlife. Large rookeries are home to chinstrap, gentoo and Adelie penguins and seals live on the ice floes, including the powerful leopard seal. Gulls, skuas and cormorants are also found nesting and feeding at many sites along the Antarctic Peninsula.


You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 15

Exploring the Antarctic Peninsula
Take to the zodiac boats to explore the spectacular bays and coves of the peninsula before landing ashore to explore on foot. While the weather and ice conditions will determine where is best to visit, highlights include Wilhelmina Bay, Orne Harbour, Cuverville Island and the Errera Channel.


You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 16

Exploring the Antarctic Peninsula
When on land there are numerous activities one can pursue. Spend time with photographer, Sue Flood to capture memorable images of the landscape and the wildlife of the peninsula or take a hike to the top of a snowy mountain saddle to simply take in the peace and solitude of Antarctica. One of our favourite past times is to sit quietly to watch the comings and goings of a penguin colony. At this time of year the chicks are gaining in strength and confidence and so are very mobile and active. Interaction with parents and other chicks makes for great sightings.


You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 17

Drake Passage
Today leave the enchanting landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula behind and head north, across the notorious Drake Passage. Renowned as being the point where the Pacific collides with the Southern Ocean, this stretch of water is often seen as a rite of passage for all Antarctic travellers. If the crossing is a rough one (a 'Drake Shake') then there will be plenty of activity on board (such as lectures and photographic workshops) to keep you entertained. If the crossing is calm (a 'Drake Lake') then spend time out on deck to watch the sea birds and look for whales.


You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 18

Drake Passage
Tonight, raise a toast to Antarctica with a special farewell dinner. If the weather is good travel around Cape Horn before heading back into the Beagle Channel towards Ushuaia.


You will be staying at RCGS Resolute, full board

Day 19

Ushuaia
Arrive back in Ushuaia early in the morning. Disembark after breakfast and transfer to the airport for the flight to Buenos Aries. Depending on the flight times you may have some time to explore Ushuaia.

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

RCGS Resolute

RCGS Resolute

Built in Rauma, Finland, the RCGS Resolute has a modern stabilization and an unsurpassed ice classification offering comfortable expedition cruising for up to 146 passengers....

View Accommodation

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Antarctica

James Armitage, Travel Expert

"The help and great knowledge James offered really made the holiday special"

"James listened and managed our expectations and therefore made sure we were prepared for all eventualities when going on our holiday to Brazil"

"James was brilliant and all the advice was spot on."

Read More

John Faithfull, Travel Expert

"Personalised service. Seemed to really want to get it right for us. Very impressed when I first called and John spent 40 minutes finding out what we wanted to do and tailoring it for us."

"The expertise that John has really gave us faith in where we were going, the regions, the hotels, the trips. John knew about it all, he described them in detail, and when we asked for different regions he was straight in there with suggestions and ideas. The way the whole trip was planned and presented to us, never any pressure to book or any problem to change plans /ideas."

"John Faithful was wonderfully helpful and conscientious in arranging the itinerary and was always ready to suggest alternatives or rearrange matters without any hesitation; this and his detailed knowledge gave one great confidence."

Read More

Sue Grimwood, Travel Expert

"It was tremendously helpful to be able to speak to someone who had been to Antarctica before - Sue had been on the ship we had booked, so was able to give us some very useful information. We felt that at every stage of the booking process that we were in safe hands. "

""I was uncharacteristically worried about this trip - neurotic some might say - and I was given 110% support and help with everything. I had been disappointed by not being able to get a space on the 2014 trip and so Sue was stuck with me for 2 years - a testament to her patience and professionalism. I was confident in Sue - she knows Antarctica and speaks from experience, that is worth a huge amount. Emails, which I would send were responded to almost immediately.""

Read More

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Tour Expert

Stephen Venables

Stephen Venables
Stephen Venables made mountaineering history in 1988 when he climbed a new route up the massive East Face of Everest with a four man Anglo-American team. He was the first Briton to reach the summit without supplementary oxygen. He has also made many other first ascents throughout the Himalaya, in the Andes and on South Georgia. During one of his eight visits to the island he took part with Reinhold Messner and Conrad Anker in the IMAX film ‘Shackleton’s Antartic Adventure’. He has also skied and climbed on the Antarctic Peninsula. He has published twelve books, including ‘Island at the Edge of the World – A South Georgia Odyssey’ and has appeared in several BBC documentaries. He is a past president of the South Georgia Association and of the world’s oldest mountaineering organisation, the Alpine Club.

Sue Flood

Sue Flood
Your guide on the trip is Sue Flood, a photographer, author, wildlife filmmaker and conservationist. Sue was an Associate Producer on the award winning BBC series 'The Blue Planet', and also more recently worked on Planet Earth. Both The Blue Planet and Planet Earth featured several animal behaviours which were filmed for the first time, and Sue obtained unique images for the series. Her photographic highlights include diving with humpback whales in the South Pacific, face-to-face encounters with leopard seals in the Antarctic, filming polar bears in the Arctic, and photographing the wildlife of Zambia. But above all, Sue is great fun to be with - while your photographic prowess will improve under her tuition, you are also guaranteed a fun and rewarding time in her company.

Other tours by this lecturer:

Enquire about this Wildlife tour:

Group Size:

Min 33 / Max 146

Tour Expert:

Stephen Venables, Sue Flood

Departure Date (S):

  • 30th January 2019

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