Many travelers want to visit Antarctica because it’s a bucket list item, or because it’s continent number seven for them. Or maybe there’s a pull because it seems like the last wild place where nature rules. You could hang a left on the map from Argentina instead, however, and see teeming wildlife in the Falkland Islands and South Georgia Island.
There are several advantages in taking a luxury expedition trip to this area instead. For one, you will skirt the rough Drake Passage instead of having to plow headlong across it like you do to reach Antarctica. Plus you don’t hit it until late in the cruise, instead of at the beginning when you’re just developing your sea legs. You depart from Puerto Madryn and return to Ushuaia, so you get to stay in two different towns. If you loved Antarctica after going already, this would be a way to return to the region and have a new experience.
This area is also teeming with wildlife. South Georgia Island is home to 65 species of birds and 20 species of sea mammals. Do you love penguins? You’ll see thousands of King Penguins on that island, a whole undulating sea of them at times.
They’re just the start, however, and if you go out with a high-end, experienced operator like Poseidon Expeditions, you’ll have two naturalists on board providing background and wildlife info as you move from place to place.
The first stop is the Falkland Islands, known as the Malvina Islands by Argentina. This British colony has around 3,000 inhabitants on about 4,700 square miles of land, so the people are just a tiny fraction of the mammals here. You’re assured of seeing penguins, fur seals, and elephant seals, plus there’s usually a good chance of spotting some whales. Plenty of large sea birds make their colonies here as well.
That’s just a warm-up to what awaits after crossing to South Georgia Island though. From the tour description:
The islands are said to host upwards of 100 million seabirds, including numerous species of albatross, penguins, prions, petrels, and terns. On beaches such as those at Salisbury Plain and St. Andrews Bay, over 100,000 elephant seals and three million fur seals jostle for space among innumerable penguins including stately king penguins and sprightly macaroni penguins.
There’s a museum here outlining the history of whaling in this region teeming with the creatures, plus it was the final resting place for the explorer Ernest Shackleton. After cruising around this area for a few days and making stops, you cross the ocean back up to the Falklands to explore more of that island chain. Then at the end you return to Argentina, to the southernmost city in the world: Ushuaia.
Prices start at $9,995 for a triple cabin but if you’ve got the funds to splurge, go for the Owner’s Suite pictured above. That will run you more than $20,000 per person, but you get 43 square meters/ 463 square feet of space, with a separate living room area and sliding doors to your own private deck. There’s a king bed, a Bose stereo system, and a TV with DVD player or a connection to look at your animal photos/videos on a big screen. You also get a whirlpool tub in the bathroom.
If you don’t need all that space, the deluxe suites and premium suites also have their own balcony. Go here to see more information on this expedition cruise.
Of course this doesn’t have to be an either/or decision. If you have plenty of time and love to be at sea, you can take Poseidon’s Ultimate Wildlife Vacation that’s nearly three weeks long. It hits the above areas and Antarctica.
Follow this link to receive an incredible 2-for-1 discount as a Luxury Latin America reader, on Poseidon Expeditions’ next expedition cruise to South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. Availability is limited.
[Photos courtesy of luxury expedition cruise company Poseidon Expeditions.]