Antarctica, the Falklands, and South Georgia
It's hard to describe the beauty and grandeur of Antarctica or the abundance of wildlife that live in this part of the world. As you'll see in the photos, nothing survives here without the sea. All of the native animals live on food from the sea and live in the sea when not reproducing or raising babies.
There are about 200 photos in total posted for this trip. It you don't have time or the bandwidth to poke through all of the different pages, check out the Top 20 Photos page. All of the pages have thumbnails for a quick look and quick loading. Hope you enjoy.
Our trip started on December 13 when we headed to Miami, on the first flight of many, and we returned home on January 7, 2003. In addition to almost five solid travel days getting to and from Ushuaia, Argentina, we actually spent 22 days on the boat exploring the area. We had the most unbelievable luck as far as weather goes, especially on the Drake Passage with very calm seas (only 12 - 14 foot seas.) "The Drake," as it's called, is notorious for rough seas and 30 foot waves crashing over the sides of the boat. We mostly enjoyed partly cloudy skies, a few days of bright blue skies and sunshine, and 2 or 3 days with some fog, rain or snow. Temperatures were warmer than we expected, but not unusual for the beautiful weather we experienced, approximately 38° - 45° in the Falklands, 32° - 38° in South Georgia, and about 31° - 34° in Antarctica.
The normal plan, when not at sea, was to visit two or three different locations or landing sites per day. We would spend 2 - 4 hours per site to wander around, hike, or just hang out and visit with the animals. Days at sea normally included interesting lectures and videos about Antarctica and early explorers to the area. The expedition leader and ship captain were very flexible with plans and weather; if the weather was bad or the landing was too rough, we'd move on to an alternate site nearby. Consequently, we were able to get to many places that few have been.
Most trips, to conserve on time and costs, go straight to the Antarctic Peninsula. We enjoyed the Falklands early in the trip, though I think we wouldn't have been as impressed by the end. South Georgia is a must-see if at all possible -- there are some simply astonishing scenes there that you won't find anywhere else in the world.
Here is a high level view of our trip, from the Lindblad Expeditions overview:
Day 1: San Francisco/Miami/Santiago, Chile
Day 2: Santiago
Arrive in the cosmopolitan capital and discover its mix of Spanish Colonial and modern architecture. Take a brief city tour and visit a couple of museums. Spend the night here.
Day 3: Santiago/Ushuaia/Embark Ship
Fly to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. Enjoy a traditional Argentinean barbecue and a visit to the Tierra del Fuego National Park. Embark the Endeavour before dinner and set sail.
Day 4: At Sea
Days 5 & 6: Exploring the Falkland Islands
Visit this wildlife-rich area with species we won't see elsewhere, and visit one of the largest albatross colonies in the world.
Day 7: Port Stanley, the Falklands
In this Victorian town, stop at the Falkland Island museum and the Anglican Cathedral with its distinctive whale bones archway.
Days 8 & 9: At Sea
Days 10–13: South Georgia Island
Renowned for its beauty and vast colonies of King penguins, this is also the final resting place for legendary explorer Ernest Shackleton.
Days 14 & 15: At Sea
Day 16: South Orkney Island
Once known as the “Inaccessible Islands,” the South Orkneys are remote and rugged, home to Adélie penguins and thousands of seabirds. (They were still locked in with ice, so we couldn't get close enough to make a landing here.)
Day 17: At Sea
Days 18–22: Exploring Antarctica
Explore the Antarctic Peninsula and the surrounding islands by ship, Zodiac, kayak and on foot. We’ll make landfall on the “White Continent,” and follow a flexible schedule that lets us take advantage of the unexpected. (We had such good weather and calm seas that we were able to arrive in the area an entire day early. We were able to visit sites on both the east (very unusual to visit here) and west sides of the Antarctic Peninsula.)
Days 23 & 24: At Sea
As we cross the Drake Passage, keep a lookout for seabirds.
Day 25: Ushuaia/Disembark/Santiago
Disembark and explore the world’s southernmost city. After lunch fly to Santiago for your connecting overnight flight.
Day 26: Arrive Miami and then on to home and San Francisco