Gentoo Penguin
Gentoo Penguin

Gentoo Penguin

Despite their ungainly waddle on land, Gentoos hold the speed record underwater!

Our Expert Says… "One of the most obvious penguins that we see - I call it the "beach penguin" as it doesn't tend to go so far from shore as others. By the end of the season, the gentoo chicks are very curious and will actively approach visitors to see what they are! This makes them a really popular species with Antarctic travelers."

The Gentoo Penguin is another iconic Antarctic species, related to the other two brushtail penguins, the Adelie and Chinstrap penguins, the gentoo was first described by naturalists in 1781 when visiting the Falkland Islands. Incidentally, the Falklands gentoos are a little larger than gentoos found elsewhere, although they are not a subspecies - rather a “locality type” of the species.

What you will see
Highlights
Our trips

Pictures of Gentoo Penguin

Gentoo Penguin

Highlights where the Gentoo Penguin can be seen

Whalers Bay

Whalers Bay is a small natural harbor on Deception Island, one of the South Shetland Islands. An active volcano, the crater forms a natural sheltered inlet that was historically used by sealers and then whalers from the 1820s. The geography makes it a perfect place for ships to shelter in rough weather, and Whaler’s Bay contains some of the most significant whaling artifacts and remains to be found in the whole of Antarctica. As your ship sails through the narrow “break” in the volcanic caldera known as Neptunes Bellows, the wide, circular beach of Whaler’s Bay is found to the right. The beach runs uninterrupted for one and a quarter miles and was used as a runway in the 1950s and 1960s when the site was the main hub of British Antarctic air movements. The hangar that was built in 1960 can be visited at the northern end of the beach where you can also see a roller that was used to maintain the runway. At the southern end of the beach are large, rusted oil tanks, and behind them are buildings from the period 1906 to 1931. There was a significant whaling industry here, with the sheltered and shallow beach making it an ideal place to land whale carcasses and process them. While you explore all this remarkable human history, please remember that you are standing on an active volcano! The instruments you may see around the beach in the Whalers Bay area are seismic monitors, and the island is monitored for activity 24 hours a day. The last eruption was in 1969, and this was responsible for some of the mudflows and damage to the buildings and metal tanks that you see here. The penguins don’t seem to be worried, though! Chinstraps and Gentoos can always be seen along the beach here, and it’s not unusual to encounter fur seals who have hauled out to rest and watch the humans. There are also plenty of Antarctic seabirds to see, including petrels, skuas, Antarctic terns, and kelp gulls.

Wordie House, Winter Island

Nestled onto the only flat part of Winter Island, Wordie House is a hut built in 1947. It was named by a British Antarctic expedition of the time after James Wordie, who was the chief scientist on Shackleton’s famous 1914 Antarctic exploration. Winter Island is less than 1,000 yards long and is one of the Argentine Islands off the coast of Graham Land. Before it closed in 1954, the hut was used to take meteorological readings using instruments stored inside special screens, one of which still stands today. These readings were among the most important and longest set of weather data ever recorded about the Antarctic and helped scientists gain a greater understanding of the meteorology of the continent. Wordie House was made a “Historic Site and Monument” in 1995 and has been looked after by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust since 2009. There are almost 500 original artifacts still on the site, including original cans of coffee, records, pots and pans, plates, and many more £everyday” items. This makes Wordie House a true time capsule from the golden age of Antarctic exploration and scientific research. The hut is now fully weathertight, and work continues on preserving this unique station. Visits to Winter Island and Wordie House are managed by the nearby Ukrainian station Vernadsky, and you may well be briefed by the Base Commander or other official before you board your boats for the landing. Uniquely for such a historic site, visitors are allowed to roam freely under the supervision of their expert Antarctic guides. They will answer all your questions about the history of the hut, as well as the artifacts that you can find here. Visitors to Winter Island can also expect to see seabirds such as skuas and kelp gulls, as well as seals and penguins.

Elephant Island

Elephant Island is one of the outermost of the South Shetland Islands. The roots of its name are argued to be one of two reasons. Either the fact that Elephant seals were seen hauled out here in large numbers by the first person to discover and map the island, Captain George Powell in 1821, or that the island’s shape is uncannily like that of a baby elephant’s head with trunk extended! The island remained unexplored for many years thanks in part to its lack of resources (just small numbers of seals and penguins and no native plants) and partly because of its steep volcanic rocks, presenting few landing points. However, in 1916 Elephant Island became immortalized as the scene of the beyond-all-odds survival story that was Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated Antarctic expedition. After their ship Endurance was lost to the treacherous ice in the Weddell Sea, the 28 crew were forced to make a perilous escape attempt. After months in open boats and stuck on drifting ice sheets, the team arrived at Elephant Island. Here they set up a base to stay while Shackleton and five members of his crew set sail in an open lifeboat for South Georgia - a journey of over 800 miles - to seek a rescue ship. This stunning tale of endurance, determination, and the human spirit is brought home to visitors to Elephant Island by the Endurance Memorial at Point Wild. You can also see breathtaking views of the Endurance Glacier - named after Shackleton’s lost ship - as well as the stunning rocky terrain and its gentoo penguins and seals.

Stanley

Stanley (sometimes called Stanley) is the capital of the Falkland Islands and is quintessentially British - albeit reminiscent of a Britain from yesteryear. But there’s something remarkable about seeing the red “telephone boxes” and signs for “fish n chips” sitting in a landscape that’s more like Patagonia than the pastoral English countryside. Stanley is home to 70% of the Falklands’ population, about 2,500 people. There’s a gentle pace to life here, but if there’s a cruise ship or two in the harbor then it can feel quite lively! As well as pubs and “chippies” there are some definite signs that you’re not in Europe. Visit Christ Church Cathedral, opened in 1892, and you’ll enter through an arch built from the jaws of two huge blue whales. A stroll to Victory Green in central Stanley will bring you face to face with a mizzen mast from the original SS Great Britain. Brunel built the world’s first propeller-driven iron ship in 1843, and it was badly damaged by gales when rounding Cape Horn in 1886, limping back to the Falkland Islands where it lay abandoned for almost a century. Walk down Pioneer Row and you’ll see the original settlers’ cottages, not only still standing but in perfect condition. Originally shipped the 8,000 miles from the UK as kits, they were erected quickly by the first settlers to provide warmth and shelter from the sometimes forbidding weather. But no matter what other unique and unusual sites you see in this southern hemisphere town, the Union Jack flags flying and the garden gnomes in gardens won’t let you forget that this is a piece of Britain at the edge of the Antarctic.

Our trips to spot the Gentoo Penguin

Price
Minimum Price

USD 4400

Maximum Price

USD 18000

Duration (days)
Minimum Days

5

Maximum Days

26

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