The incredible bird life of the Falkland Islands is awe-inspiring. Take a look at some of the species you may encounter on a visit to this fascinating place....
One of your toughest decisions will be which voyage to choose? Our advice is to seriously consider if your time and budget will stretch to a longer voyage that includes South Georgia, with all its stunning beauty and accessible wildlife – because we can confidently say you may otherwise find yourself traveling back to Antarctica again at your earliest opportunity; it happens to very many people! But whatever you choose we are confident you will have that ‘trip of a lifetime’.
Astonishing landscape and close encounters with an abundance of wildlife including penguins, whales, seals, sea lions and albatrosses.
To visit our dedicated Antarctic web site please click here
Lemaire Channel and Pleneau Island – Cruising the beautiful Lemaire Channel, keep watch for the humpback and minke whales frequently spotted here. This narrow channel is one of the most visually impressive areas of the Antarctic Peninsula. Steep mountain peaks jut out of the sea on both sides, and the waters are often choked with icebergs and frequented by crabeater seals. A stunning labyrinth of grounded icebergs lies in the shallow waters west of Pleneau Island, presenting a superb Zodiac cruising experience. Crabeater and leopard seals haul out on the ice, and elephant seals and gentoo penguins occupy the island itself.
Deception Island – As you approach Deception through Neptune’s Bellows, a channel just wide enough for the ship to navigate, southern fulmars and pintado petrels soar overhead. Weigh anchor inside a volcano whose collapsed cone was filled by rushing seawater.
Whales are present throughout the season – Minke, Humpback, Sei, Fin, Orca and for the very lucky few, Blue whales. Earlier in the season (November and December) they are more intent on feeding and often you will see dorsal fins, ‘blows’, or the tail flukes as they dive to feed. Later in the season, in late February and March, having ‘filled up’, they tend to be more inquisitive, perhaps ‘spy-hopping’ right beside your Zodiac. The Expedition vessel Akademik Ioffe has a dedicated whale watching voyage ‘Marine Mammals of Antarctica’ departing 9th March 2016 and 17th March 2017.
There are a total of seven species of penguins you can see on the Antarctic Peninsula (4), Falkland Islands (5) and South Georgia (4). All bar the Emperor are regularly seen and will be present all season long.
Of the four species on the Peninsula three species are regulars, chinstrap, Adelie and gentoo. The fourth, the Emperor penguin, is rarely seen – unless you join an early season voyage (October/November) that visits an Emperor penguin rookery (e.g. Snow Hill Island in the Weddell Sea).
South Georgia is home to 4 species; gentoo (200,000), macaroni (6,000,000), king (1,000,000) and chinstrap (12,000).
The Falkland Islands has five species; macaroni (100), rock-hopper (600,000), king (400), gentoo (130,000) and Magellanic (100,000).
Glaciers, icebergs and bergy bits – the variety of colours, shapes and sizes are impossible to adequately describe. Each voyage will spend time Zodiac cruising among icebergs that are thousands of years old, some black, some blue, all amazing and a photographer’s dream.
South Georgia is one of the most stunning places on earth. This small archipelago rears up from the Southern Ocean to a height of almost 3,000 metres and is home to millions of birds. The rugged landscape forms a dramatic backdrop to the many beaches and coves which are home to millions of penguins and petrels, thousands of elephant and fur seals and hundreds of albatrosses.
The sub-Antarctic island group of the Falkland Islands has much to offer. Voyages that visit the Falklands are between 18 and 22 nights in duration and, far more than just a convenient break in the crossing to South Georgia, the islands are a highlight of any of these voyages. The wonderful landscape, often pastures and rolling hills, is reminiscent of more northern climes than of the sub-Antarctic (at least on a warm day!) and offers some great walks. There are many scattered reminders of the 1982 Falklands War (referred to locally as ‘the conflict’) and an excellent museum in Port Stanley details the events of this recent history. But it is the wildlife that is usually the high point of any visit here: five species of penguins, two endemic bird species – the Falklands flightless steamer duck and Cobb’s wren – as well as sea lions and elephant seals. The island group is of global significance for three bird species, having 40% of the world’s Southern Giant petrels, 30% of its Gentoo penguins and 65% of the world’s Black-browed albatrosses.
We have carefully selected our preferred partner ships Antarctica, the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, they provide exceptional experiences for all who visit. We’ve chosen the best ships and the best operators to deliver you to these wondrous wilderness areas, classified in three categories – Luxury, Expedition and Fly-Cruise.
To visit our dedicated web site www.antarcticatravelcentre.com.au
All vessels have less than 200 passengers, three with a maximum capacity of less than 100.
Note; only 100 guests may go ashore at anyone one time.
Combine more traditional-style ‘cruising’ with an Antarctic adventure. They offer large, very comfortable cabins with en-suite facilities and many suites have private balconies.
Silver Cloud (189)
Silver Explorer (132)
Le Soleal (199)
Le Boreal (199)
Le Lyrial (199)
These operators/ships have a greater emphasis on maximising time off the vessel or out on deck. Cabins are simple and comfortable, the food excellent.
Akademik Sergey Vavilov (92)
Akademik Ioffe (96)
Sea Spirit (114)
Affords a visit to Antarctica – or the Falklands and South Georgia – in a shorter period of time by overflying some of the longer sea crossings, including the Drake Passage, to land closer to the destination.
Combines flights on a specially designed short-runway aircraft with a modern and comfortable expedition vessel.
Hebridean Sky (114)
Ocean Nova (68)
Akademik Sergey Vavilov (70)
Most ships offer kayaking (for an additional cost) for up to 20 guests. It’s an incredible way to gain a very different perspective, with expert guides and a Zodiac close enough to offer assistance, yet far enough away not to disrupt the tranquillity. Occasionally, if you’re lucky, whales will come to investigate but don’t worry as the guides will form the kayaks into a ‘raft’ and you will enjoy a genuine once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Some sites don’t lend themselves to a physical landing or may be best seen from water level. Zodiacs (rubber inflatable boats) offer a safe way to explore and are an integral part of any day on the Antarctic Peninsula.
Note: Please ensure you are adequately dressed as it can get cold; waterproof pants are essential.
Emperor Penguins. As someone with a strong interest in wildlife I’d like to point out that if you want to see an Emperor penguin, who breed on sea ice, you must head south in October on an icebreaker ship with helicopters – without both the chances of seeing an Emperor are close to zero. Many companies appear to promote seeing them when the ship, the itinerary and timing mean they will not see them – as the sea ice, where the colonies breed, breaks up in early November and the colonies disperse.
Antarctica – 200 Guests
These ships combine more traditional-style ‘cruising’ with an Antarctic adventure. They offer large, very comfortable cabins with en-suite facilities; many suites have private balconies. The on-board service is excellent as is the cuisine.
Akademik Ioffe/Ocean Navigator
Antarctica – 96 Guests
Have a greater emphasis on maximising time off the vessel or out on deck. The expedition team works closely with the Russian ship’s captain and crew. Cabins are simple and comfortable, the food excellent. The ships are stable, fast and manoeuvrable.
Antarctica – 114 Guests
Luxury ships generally have larger cabins and a greater range of on board facilities (like cruise ships). A flight from Punta Arenas in Chile to King George Island on the Antarctic Peninsula, or to Mount Pleasant (Falkland Islands) avoids long sea crossing which affords maximum time exploring; the Falkland Islands, South Georgia or the Antarctic Peninsula.
Akademik Sergey Vavilov/Ocean Voyager
Antarctica – 92 Guests
A flight from Punta Arenas in Chile to King George Island on the Antarctic Peninsula, or to Mount Pleasant (Falkland Islands) avoids long sea crossing which affords maximum time exploring; the Falkland Islands, South Georgia or the Antarctic Peninsula. The operators have a greater emphasis on maximising time off the vessel or out on deck. Cabins are simple and comfortable, the food excellent.
Arakur Hotel & Spa
Tierra del Fuego , ‘Land of Fire’ is often the gateway to Antarctica. There are several fine hotels in Ushuaia. Given the short season, November to March, they
cost quite a lot relative to standards. The best hotels book out early.
International Association Antarctic Tour Operators
IAATO is a world leading authority on Antarctica and any high quality operator will be a member and operate within the IAATO guidelines.
We are very happy to have been accepted as an associate member of IAATO.
It’s worth making it clear at this point that in Antarctica size matters;
<100 No more than 100 clients ashore at any one site
<200 Ships with over 200 clients can only visit a handful of sites; and if all 200 clients have to visit the same site and go ashore at the same time you’ll either spend half the time ashore, or visit half the number of sites as a 100 client vessel.
<500 Ships with over 500 clients cannot go ashore. You will see the Peninsula but not experience it.
South America Travel Centre can look after all aspects of your holiday, including flights and travel insurance.
We start by asking you what your interests are and where you are interested in, when, for how long, what style of ship and cabin type Once we have a good understanding of just what you’re looking for, we can find a voyage and ship that will deliver interest and enjoyment in an experience to exceed your expectations.
Please book early. Many of the ships can be booked out up to 8-10 months in advance.
If you’re thinking of travelling during any major holidays like Christmas and New Year our advice is simply to book as early as you can, even 12 months or more, and we can add flights as soon as they become available.
Australian citizens do not require a visa to enter Chile, a Reciprocity Fee is required for entry into Argentina (Currently US$125 paid for online prior to travel). You will need to hold a valid passport and have a return ticket when you arrival.
Vaccinations are advised for common diseases like Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid as well as Influenza. There are no compulsory vaccinations.
We advise you to consult a Travel Doctor specialist prior to departure to assess any health risks in relation to your medical history and travel plans.
We have access to a wide range of airfares and have excellent relationships with our key airline partners. Our two main airline partners in Latin America are LATAM Airlines, QANTAS Airlines and Air New Zealand. We can also arrange internal flights for you within Latin America.
Irrespective of whether you book directly with us or with your preferred travel agent, we’ll request the details of all of your fights to ensure if there are any changes your transfers and other arrangements are adjusted accordingly.
The Antarctic season runs for late October through until March – the southern hemisphere summer. In some ways there’s no ‘best time’ to travel to Antarctica.
In simple terms the Antarctic Peninsula, Falkland Islands and South Georgia open up in November (October for Emperor Penguin voyages) and the season runs through until March when the shortening days and the encroaching sea ice close this magical place to all but the hardiest.
November; If you would like to witness the dominant Elephant seals battling to control their harem of female on the beaches of South Georgia – then you must take an early season voyage – leave it too long and the bulls will have ‘set sail’. On the Peninsula the penguins are arriving and starting their courtship displays.
December; The beaches and hillsides are busy with tens of thousands (occasionally more) of courting penguins, the daylights hours are long.
January; After a relatively brief period of calm, with both parents incubating the eggs, the colonies erupt into activity once again, feeding hungry, fast growing, chicks is a full time job.
February; Seals, skuas, petrels and penguins are all busy attending their sub-adult young the ‘summer’ will soon be over. The penguin chicks slowly lose their down to be replaced with their adult ‘feathers’.
March; Whales who’ve been busy feeding throughout the Antarctic summer seem to have more time to investigate the visitors (us). Leopard seals have an easy time catching juvenile penguins taking their first swims and then the brief season comes to a close.
The weather is as unpredictable. Surprisingly it’s generally not that cold. Any voyage can experience extreme conditions followed shortly by beautiful clear days. In fact the best conditions often follow a storm. Calm conditions will often lead to low cloud or fog. The Drake Passage can be the ‘Drake Lake’ or the ‘Drake Shake’ and there’s no certainty as to which one you’ll experience (for those who simply don’t want to consider the Drake Passage a Fly-Cruise voyage is the answer).
With regards to clothing as the saying goes ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing’ – dress well.
We found our itinerary absolutely perfect. By that I mean not only were our superb boutique hotels great, the guides in each city friendly, courteous, well-spoken and knowledgeable but the time in each city or location and the balance between site seeing “work" and leisure time “play” was also perfect. The most difficult question by friends on our return has been “what was the highlight”. An impossible question when considering the merits of, inter alia, Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls, Christ the Redeemer, Inti Raymi Festival, Lake Titicaca. The purpose of our trip to South America, in truth, was to see as much as we could of the continent with a view to probably not returning as we explored other opportunities. I have to now say that the chance of us revisiting South America is extremely high.
I write to thank you for organising our recent trip to South America. Everything went like clockwork, and the arrangements were very satisfactory. The guides always turned up at the right time, and the people meeting us at the airports were always there. We had a wonderful trip, and we will have to plan another one now, so that we can see Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay and maybe more. But first it’s back to work to earn some more money! For me the greatest highlight was Machu Picchu; it far exceeded my expectations. Once again, thanks so much, Alistair Macindoe.
We had a fabulous time!! The countries we visited have such a rich and fascinating cultural & geographical diversity. We loved learning about the Incans and visiting the ruins in Peru, we loved seeing all the creatures of the Galapagos Islands and the volcanoes of Ecuador. We loved the magnificent scenery of the Atacama. What a fantastic palette at sunset! The adobe hotel, Altiplanico, was wonderful & San Pedro de Atacama was a funky place. We appreciated the structure of our holiday too, there was a nice blend of guided time and free time. It was nice to be in one place on the boat in Galapagos after moving to a different place each day through Ecuador. Some of the haciendas we visited would be lovely to stay for a longer time. Everything went very smoothly in terms of timely airport transfers & pickups, informative and friendly guides/drivers at all times. The local people were very friendly & were helpful with our attempts at speaking Spanish. We enjoyed the cuisine very much & look forward to trying some home-made Locro de papa soup & Pisco sour. Thanks for helping us with a great holiday. Kind regards Della & John
Having local guides and local knowledge was sensational and gave us a great insight into the cities and countries we visited. We loved the whole trip. One very big positive was every single time we arrived at a destination, there was someone already there to meet us and a transfer waiting to take us to the hotel or airport. We didn’t use trains and only used buses in Cuba which were very good for what we were doing. Our SATC consultant and her knowledge and experience was invaluable in both the lead up and the trip itself, with numerous hints and tips being very useful as well. The detail and documentation provided was excellent throughout and we used it extensively on our trip.
One of the most delightful things after travelling long distances is to be met at the airport, bags carried and be taken to the accommodation. It is just so good to see that sign with your name. Our latest itinerary with South America Travel Centre, in June 2016, took us to Costa Rica, Guatemala and Honduras. Costa Rica was about flowers, wildlife, volcanoes and zip lining. Guatemala and Honduras were about Mayan ruins with some wildlife in between. Although it was the rainy season, we found that rain sometimes occurred as a thunderstorm in the late afternoon, lasting about an hour. It was always a delightful surprise to find that our accommodation is not in a multistorey type edifice but in an architecturally interesting building with fascinating décor and views. We found this at each place we visited. Many of the breakfast rooms had a wonderful view of water, forest or volcano where we could sit and enjoy the local tropical fruits. Breakfast always included tropical fruit and fruit juice. We have returned home with photos galore.
The incredible amount of work you put into the planning and organising really paid off. The South America Travel Centre documentation provided in the pouch before the trip was excellent. The selection and sequence of things worked well. The spiral bound book was used a lot during the trip. And on arrival back home, a pleasant surprise CD from your company. The chosen hotels were all very good to excellent to grand, and again the guides always made sure that we were properly checked in. Hotel locations are very important as this allows easy walking around the neighbourhood to explore at one’s own pace. Overall a ‘high five” for you and your team and agents. Thank you very much for your efforts and hope that our paths will cross again at some point in the future.