You will be warmly greeted by the crew and expedition staff as you embark Ortelius in Ushuaia in the afternoon. As we set course towards the Falkland Islands, we will settle into shipboard life and enjoy our first meal on board.
On our way to the Falkland Islands, the ship is followed by several species of albatrosses, storm petrels, shearwaters and diving petrels.
In the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) we plan to spend the whole day on the fascinating western side of the archipelago. A hike along the Shore of Carcass Island will give us views of Magellanic and Gentoo-Penguins, as well as close encounters with water fowl and Night herons and passerines. In addition, on Saunders we will be able to observe four species of breeding penguins (Gentoo, King, Magellanic and Rockhopper), Black-browed Albatrosses and King Cormorants.
On our way to South Georgia we will cross the Antarctic Convergence. Entering Antarctic waters, the temperature will drop by as much as 10 degrees C in the time span of only a few hours. Near the Convergence we will see a multitude of southern seabirds near the ship; several species of Albatrosses, Shearwaters, Petrels, Prions and Skuas.
(Arrival early morning on day 8). We visit the areas where the German explorers, von Neumayer, Drygalski, Filchner, Kohl-Larsen, have worked and put their marks ( e.g. Grytviken, Royal Bay/Moltke Harbour, Drygalski Fjord and more). The sites that we visit give us a good opportunity to see a wide spectrum of landscapes and wildlife, like King and Macaroni Penguins, Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses, Fur Seals, and Elephant Seals. There will be opportunities for walkers in the group to hike on South Georgia. All hiking excursions are subject to weather and landing site availability. The voyage in South Georgia ends at Drygalski Fjord, which is a great scenic place for zodiac cruising.
Where the ship is again followed by a multitude of seabirds. At some point we might encounter sea-ice, and it is at the ice-edge where we might have a chance to see some high-Antarctic species like the McCormick skua and Snow petrel.
We may land at Half Moon Island at the South Shetland Islands, where we can observe Elephant, Weddell and Fur Seals as well as Chinstrap Penguins, Blue-eyed Shags, Wilson's Storm Petrels, Kelp Gulls, Snowy Sheathbills, Antarctic Terns and Antarctic Brown Skuas. At Deception Island, we will sail into the crater through the spectacular narrow entrance Neptune's Bellow into the ring of the caldera to reach Whalers Bay. Deception itself is a sub-ducted crater, which opens into the sea, creating a natural harbour for the ship. Here we find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, thousands of Cape Pigeons and many Dominican Gulls, Brown and South Polar Skuas and Antarctic Terns. Wilson's Storm Petrels and Black-bellied Storm Petrels nest in the ruins of the whaling station in Whalers Bay.
At sea towards the Antarctic Peninsula.
On our way south, we sail to Danco Island and Cuverville Island in the Errera Channel, a small precipitous island, nestled between the mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula. It contains a large colony of Gentoo Penguins and breeding pairs of Brown Skuas. We also hope for a continental landing at Neko Harbour in Andvord Bay. We are aiming to sail further south to Paradise Bay with its myriad icebergs and deep cut fjords, while having chances of seeing large Whales. We will have opportunities for zodiac cruising between the icebergs in the inner parts of the fjords. We may land at the Argentinian station Almirante Brown, which is most of the time not manned. Sailing South through the Lemaire Channel we will visit Petermann Island (named after the German geographer August Petermann), our most southery point of this voyage. We are heading back North with direction Neumayer Channel ( named after German scientist Georg von Neumayer). We aim for the historic British station Port Lockroy on Goudier Island. We also hope for a landing on the neighbouring island Jougla Point which is inhabited by Gentoo Penguins and Imperial Shags. Sailing north again through Neumayer Channel and Gerlache Strait. We pass by the Melchior Islands with a final glimpse at the beautiful landscape with icebergs, where we may encounter Leopard Seals, Crabeater Seals and whales. We leave from here to the open sea with direction Ushuaia.
On our way north we are again followed by a great selection of seabirds while crossing the Drake Passage.
We arrive in the morning in Ushuaia and disembark.