Antarctica Penguins Close Up

South Georgia & The Falklands

Pair a rich adventure experience in the Falklands with an in-depth visit to South Georgia.

South Georgia & The Falklands

With Magellan Explorer
15-day cruise
Antarctic Cruise
100 Reviews
5/5
flight icon
Private Flight to Antarctica
Medical Service Icon
Medical Services
24h Doctor Station
Combine the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and South Georgia with this 15-day expedition. Start in the Falklands and enjoy watching rockhopper and gentoo penguins in their native habitat. From your zodiac spot Black-browed albatrosses and petrels high above. Hike into the local settlements and meet the people who have made this island home for generations. From there, set sail for South Georgia and its mountains, which are permanently covered in thick layers of ice and snow. On this island, wildlife is king. Visit one of the world’s largest king penguin colonies and watch elephant seals relaxing on the shores. As we sail from bay to bay, watch out for whales and beautiful seabirds flying overhead.

Your itinerary

Day 1, AM
Stanley
Arrival at Port Stanley
Port Stanley (also known simply as Stanley) has been the capital of the Falkland Islands since 1845 and lies on the eastern coast of East Falkland. Although it is a capital, you’re not going to find a bustling metropolis here. But you will find a very warm welcome from the 2,500 islanders who live here (some 70% of the entire population). Stanley feels like a small slice of the United Kingdom in the South Atlantic. As well as traditional red telephone boxes, and driving on the “wrong side of the road”, there’s a charm about Stanley that harks back to how the rural UK may have been in the 1950s. You’ll be made to feel at home in any of its 4 pubs and you must try a “takeaway” from its fish and chip shop! About a third of the residents are government employees, with another substantial proportion involved in tourism, fishing, and farming. The area around Stanley is worth an excursion. It’s a 4-mile walk or taxi ride to Gypsy Cove where there is a Magellanic penguin colony. You can also visit Cape Pembroke, the easternmost point of the Falkland Islands. Whether you choose to explore the wider area or just take a relaxed stroll around Port Stanley itself, this is a wonderful place to enjoy your last footfall before you reach the Antarctic.
Day 1, PM
Embarking ship
Embark in Port Stanley
Embarkation will usually begin in the afternoon. You'll get to know your ship and friendly, professional crew as well as meet your fellow adventurers. You'll receive an overview of the expedition as well as safety briefings and the opportunity to ask questions. You'll set sail in the evening, heading south from Port Stanley to the open sea and Antarctic waters.
Day 2, AM
Saunders Island
Saunders Island
Saunders Island (known in Spanish as Isla Trinidad) is in the northwest of the Falkland Islands group and is the 4th largest individual island with 50 square miles of land. Saunders Island is geographically stunning, as well as rich with remarkable wildlife. The island is made up of three peninsulas that are joined by narrow necks of land. The three uplands towner over the necks, with the tallest, Mount Richards, being 1,500ft above the waves below. The views from the headlands are astonishing. Saunders Island has been designated an Important Bird Area (or IBA) thanks to the large numbers of breeding species that make their homes here. The beaches are home to thousands of gentoo, rockhopper, macaroni, and king penguins - you can’t avoid hearing their raucous cries from all over the island! There is also a colony of Magellanic penguins on Saunders Islands - these are some of the most southerly of that species in the world. Other significant species to be found on Saunders include Falkland steamer ducks, black-browed albatrosses, and white-bridled finch. In the waters off the shoreline, you can see the delightful Commerson’s dolphins - their black and white markings making them seem like miniature orcas. Visiting Elephant Point will bring you face-to-face with the small colony of elephant seals that live here and gave their name to the beach. You can also often find southern right whales in the sheltered bays here feeding and resting before moving on.
Day 2, PM
Carcass Island
Despite the name, Carcass Island off West Falkland is not a burial site, nor a place where whales were hauled ashore for processing. It is, in fact, a beautiful and unspoiled island some 6 miles long that was named after the ship that first mapped it, HMS Carcass in 1766. Carcass Island lies in the northwest of the Falklands and has been a sheep farm for more than a century. Despite this commercialization, Carcass Island has been carefully and sympathetically managed for wildlife. Coupled with the fact that no rats or cats have ever been introduced here, it makes Carcass a haven for birdlife, and an important area for conservation and protection of species. For a small island, it boasts several habitat types. From cliffs and rocky slopes in its northeast to sheltered sandy bays in the northwest, from 700ft uplands to tussac-rich coastal paddocks. Carcass Island is also home to one of the few areas of mature trees in the whole islands, winter storms tending to make large-scale tree growth difficult. These hardy plants aren’t native species, however, with some interesting varieties from places as far-flung as New Zealand and California. The birdlife is the star of the show on Carcass. With no land predators, several freshwater ponds, and excellent habitat management, this designated Important Bird Area (IBA) is home to many species significant to conservation. These include black-crowned night herons, Falkland steamer ducks, ruddy-headed geese, black-browed albatrosses, and striated caracaras. There is a healthy penguin population on Carcass, including gentoos, Magellanics, and southern rockhoppers. Seals are also a common sight in the waters around the island and hauled up on the sandy beaches, including fur and elephant seals. Dolphins and sea lions are also spotted here.
Day 3, AM
New Island
New Island
New Island - also known as Isla de Goicoechea in Spanish - is one of the Falkland Islands. A long, thin island with both steep cliffs and sandy bays, it’s 150 west of the Falkland’s capital, Stanley. Despite its position on the westerly edge of the islands, New Island was one of the first to be visited and colonized. There is some evidence that whalers from America may have landed here as early as 1770. In 1813 a ship from Nantucket was wrecked here and the crew survived for two years before being rescued. They built a simple stone shelter which now forms part of the oldest building in the Falklands. With stints as a base for guano miners and whaling companies, New Island proved to be uneconomical to exploit in these ways and was left for the wildlife to thrive. Now a wildlife reserve and registered Important Bird Area (IBA), New Island is a beautiful sanctuary for many Falklands and Antarctic species to breed and live. Penguins, in particular, take advantage of the shallow beaches and rolling shores on the eastern coast. Five species can be seen here, including large breeding colonies of gentoo and southern rockhopper penguins. King penguins are also found here, as well as petrels, shags, dolphin gulls, Falklands skuas, and many more. Sea lions and elephant seals can also be found hauled up on the beaches or swimming idly in the sheltered bays.
Day 3, PM
Weddell Island
Weddell Island claims to be the largest privately owned island in the world, at over 102 square miles. It’s also the third largest of all the Falkland Islands. It was named after British explorer James Weddell, after whom the Weddell Sea in Antarctica was also named. Weddell Island was historically run as a farm, but farming activity declined in the 20th century. Recent owners have begun to return the island to sustainable farming as well as managing the habitats for wildlife and replanting native tussac grasses where birds in particular love to nest. One interesting creature to be seen here is the tiny Patagonian fox. Distinctly not a native species, these foxes were introduced to the island in the 1930s by an eccentric previous owner who also brought with him skunks, rheas, and parrots! Only the foxes remain, and although they do prey on very young lambs, their future on the island has still not been decided. Weddell Island is a very important plant habitat for the Falklands. It contains more than 60% of all the native Falkland plant species, including some very rare species. The birdlife here is also prolific and plays host to most of the Falklands species as well as some occasional visitors from South America. Gentoo and Magellanic penguins are resident, and another 54 species have so far been recorded on Weddell. The whole island is open for exploration, and you are welcome to either stay close to the small settlement to enjoy the views or to hike across the island in the hope of spotting some of its rarer bird species.
Day 4, AM
Bleaker Island
Bleaker Island
Bleaker Island (known as Isla Maria in Spanish) has had at least 3 changes of the name since the Falkland Islands were first discovered and colonized. It was first named Long Island - a rather unimaginative title because that’s what it is, long and thin. Its name was changed to Breaker Island and it appeared like this on maps and charts until 1859, when a new chart was published with the name changed to Bleaker. What was probably a printing error has stuck ever since! There was evidence that sealers had been using Bleaker Island as a base, but there was no permanent settlement attempted until 1880 when a house was built and a sheep farm set up. The island has been used for rearing ship ever since, and now has some cattle as well. It’s run as an organic farm and tourist destination, with stewardship of the land to allow both commercial farming and wildlife preservation at its heart. A formally-designated Important Bird Area (or IBA), Bleaker Island is home to a large breeding colony of Imperial Cormorants more than 16,000 strong. Other species to be found here include Gentoo penguins who nest on the appropriately-named Penguin Hill above Sandy Bay. There are also Southern Rockhopper penguins to be found near Long Gulch and Magellanic penguin burrows are widespread. There are also many smaller bird species here, including Falklands grass wrens and pipits, black-chinned siskins, and dark-faced ground-tyrants. There are also some birds of prey including southern caracaras.
Day 5, AM
South Georgia
Sail to South Georgia & Lectures
On the journey to South Georgia, your naturalist guides will entertain and educate you with a range of lectures about South Georgia, its wildlife, geology, and history. You'll also have plenty of time to be on deck - wrapped up warm, of course - watching as Antarctic bird species flying overhead, as well as spotting whales and other marine mammals as you approach the coast.
Day 6, AM
South Georgia
Sail to South Georgia & Lectures
On the journey to South Georgia, your naturalist guides will entertain and educate you with a range of lectures about South Georgia, its wildlife, geology, and history. You'll also have plenty of time to be on deck - wrapped up warm, of course - watching as Antarctic bird species flying overhead, as well as spotting whales and other marine mammals as you approach the coast.
Day 7, AM
Elsehul Bay
Elsehul Bay on South Georgia Island is known for two things - its remarkable numbers of seals, and its remarkable number of names! At various times, and on various maps, it has been known as Elsehul, Else Cove, Elsie Bay, Elsa Bay, Else’s Hole, and (somewhat bucking the trend) Paddock’s Cove! It’s a small bay on the northern coast of South Georgia and is only half a mile wide. Despite its small size, it is home to the world’s largest breeding colony of Antarctic fur seals. As you arrive in the bay your ears will be ringing with the barks and cries of huge numbers of juvenile and adult seals. Adding to the barrage are the cried from the dozens of species of seabirds that also call Elsehul Bay home, including wandering albatrosses, black-browed albatross, grey-headed and sooty albatrosses, as well as thousands of other resident breeders. The shore here is a patchwork of tussac grass and mud - so many seals moving around makes for some tricky conditions! Depending on the time of year you visit, the aggressive males may still be in the bay, or, if the mating season is ended, they may have left, leaving the pups and females in peace.
Day 8, AM
Grytviken, Fortuna Bay
Grytviken only exists because of the whaling industry. It was opened as a whaling station in 1904 because Fortuna Bay was considered to be the best natural harbor in South Georgia. The site operated for almost 60 years and over 53,000 whale carcasses were landed and processed here. Although founded by a Norwegian, the name “Grytviken” is actually Swedish! It means “Pot Bay” and was named by the Swedish survey expedition of 1902 because they found several old British try pots here - large vessels used to render down seal blubber. The whaling station was abandoned in 1966 as uneconomical after stocks of whales in the region had dropped to critical levels due to over-hunting, and there are no permanent residents. However, a few officials do live here during the tourist season to manage the South Georgia Museum which is located here. There is more famous Antarctic human history to discover at Grytviken. Just outside the settlement lies the grave of Sir Ernest Shackleton, the famous Antarctic explorer, who died here from a sudden heart attack in 1922. There is also a marker next to his grave marking the spot where the ashes of his key crew member and fellow explorer Frank Wild were interred. As well as the museum, Grytviken also has a church - remarkably still used for occasional services. While most people come here for human history, natural history doesn’t disappoint. Fortuna Bay is known for its large king penguin colonies and is a popular haul out for many elephant seals, as well as innumerable seabirds.
Day 9, AM
Gold Harbour
On the southeastern coastline of South Georgia Island, Gold Harbour is a small bay that leads up to the Bertrab Glacier. Known as Puerto de Oro in Spanish, the Harbour was never named officially until the 20th century, but the name seems to have been in use by whalers and sealers and has become formally adopted. The main theory behind the name Gold Harbour is that the cliffs around the bay shine yellow in the hour after sunrise and again before sunset. There’s no “gold in them thar hills”, but an alternative theory is that that whalers and sealers did financially very well out of the early years of exploitation. Nevertheless, Gold Harbour is arguable one of the most beautiful places in the whole of South Georgia. As well as its stunning geology and spectacular illumination at sunrise and sunset, it’s also home to a huge amount of wildlife. The beach here rings with the cries of king penguins, gentoo penguins, and elephant seals, all of whom like to breed in the sheltered bay. They aren’t the only ones, though. Wheeling across the skies in front of the hanging ice cliffs of the Bertrab Glacier are hundreds of pairs of sooty albatross, who come here every year to mate and raise their chicks.
Day 9, PM
Cooper Bay
Cooper Bay is a small inlet containing Cooper Island off the southeast end of South Georgia island. It was first mapped and named by Captain Cook’s 1775 expedition. From this small bay, you will get a commanding view of Cooper Island itself whose 1,300ft summit is always above the snowline, giving some stunning polar vistas even in the height of Antarctic summer. Cooper Island is heavily protected for wildlife as it’s one of the only places in South Georgia without a rat population. This means it’s a haven for antarctic bird species who love to nest in the tussac grass that covers the island. It’s also home to a large population of fur seals who were never hunted and who have therefore continued to breed and live here undisturbed. As well as seals, from Cooper bay you can watch black-browed albatross wheeling serenely above the waves and returning to their 20,000 plus colony, as well as Antarctic prions and snow petrels hunting for food. You may well also spot macaroni penguins who also live here in large numbers.
Day 10, AM
St. Andrew's Bay
Saint Andrews Bay (more usually abbreviated to St Andrews) is a bay on the eastern shore of South Georgia, part of the British Terriroty of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands. This 2-mile wide bay is overlooked by Mount Skittle, an impressive 1,600ft rocky mountain that forms the northernmst point of the bay itself. The use of Saint Andrews as the name for the bay can only be traced back to the early 20th century, but it’s highly likely that the first people to sight and map it were the British expedition led by Captain Cook in 1775. St. Andrews Bay is renowned for its huge breeding colony of king penguins, thought to be over 150,000 strong. The sights and sounds of so many birds together is not to be missed! Fur seals and southern elephant seals are also frequently seen here, both in the water and hauled up on the shores. The rugged, rocky backdrop to the bay makes for some stunning photographs, and really evokes the remoteness of South Georgia.
Day 10, PM
Ocean harbour
Ocean Harbour, on South Georgia’s northeast coast, was once known as New Fortune Bay (indeed, its Spanish name is still Puerto Nueva Fortuna). By the 1950s, surveyors reported that it was known locally as Ocean Harbour, probably after the Ocean Whaling Company that once used the inlet as its base of operations on South Georgia. Because of the potential for confusion with nearby Fortuna Bay, its name was changed to the one in local usage. Ocean Harbor has some notable human history, including a cemetery which contains the oldest grave on the island, that of sealer Frank Cabrial who was buried here in 1820. There are also old try pots still visible, used for the rendering of seal blubber. More recent relics can be seen that date back to its time as a whaling station, including the remains of a narrow-gauge steam locomotive that was used to haul coal and supplies to and from the ships. There’s also a wreck in Ocean Harbour - the Bayard. She was a three-masted, iron-hulled ship over 200ft long that broke free from her moorings during a storm in 1911 and wrecked on the other side of the harbor from the coaling station where she was tied up. Now, in a sign of nature reclaiming the past, blue-eyed shags can be seen nesting on the grass that grows in abundance on the rotting deck of this 1000 ton former coal hauler.
Day 11, AM
Prion Island
Prion Island, like many places in the Antarctic, was named after what was first seen there. In this case, during an expedition of 1912, the island was named because the naturalist Robert Cushman Murphy noted the large numbers of prions he found here. The prion is a small petrel also sometimes known as a whalebird, and they get their unusual name because of their saw-tooth bill - the word prion in greek means “saw”. Prion Island sits in the 9-mile-wide Bay of Isles off the northern coast of South Georgia. It is only 1.5 miles in length but it has been designated a Specially Protected Area in its entirety. Because it is rat-free, birds can raise their young here without fear of their nests being raided by non-native scavengers. Because of the need to protect the wildlife, there are strict restrictions on visitor numbers, and only 50 people per day are allowed ashore during the season when Prion Island is open to visitors. You’ll also find that your naturalist guides will ensure that no one is carrying anything on to the island that could harbor an invasive species. To protect the native flora and to avoid damage to petrel and prion burrows, the South Georgia authorities have built a boardwalk, and you will be required to stay on it at all times during your visit. Don’t worry, though, as the animals seem to have decided that they enjoy using it too and nest and feed right up to its edge, so you’ll have plenty of close encounters! Another important species that breeds here is the wandering albatross. Indeed, Prion Island is such an important breeding center for them that the whole island is closed to visitors between 20th November and 7th January each year to allow them to pair off without disturbance. This time also coincides with the breeding season for Antarctic fur seals who also benefit from the seclusion. Other species you can find on Prion Island include South Georgia Pipits and South Georgia Pintails, snowy sheathbills, skuas, Antarctic terns, and gentoo penguins.
Day 11, PM
Salisbury Plain
Salisbury Plain (known as Llanura de Salisbury in Spanish) is a large coastal flat plain leading to the Bay of Isles, off the northern coast of South Georgia. Although this area of the coast of South Georgia was discovered by Captain James Cook in the 1770s, there were no detailed maps made of the region until a British Admiralty survey of the 1930s. A chart produced in 1931 is the first time this area was named, and it’s likely to be named after the “original” Salisbury Plain, a grassy, chalk plateau in southern England used for military training and home to Stonehenge. The Salisbury Plain in South Georgia was formed by the glacial runoff from the nearby Grace Glacier. This glacier was named by American ornithologist Robert Cushman Murphy for his wife during his expedition of 1912. Salisbury Plain is world-famous for its remarkable king penguin breeding colony. In 1912, Cushman estimated there were 350 pairs here. Now one of the world’s largest gathering of king penguins, official estimates are as high as 100,000 breeding pairs nesting here in peak season. Seeing the Plain filled with these regal birds is one of the highlights of any trip to South Georgia and to the sub-Antarctic. Not to be outdone by the king penguins, southern elephant seals and Antarctic fur seals also use Salisbury Plain to raise their young and can also be seen in good numbers.
Day 12, AM
Drake Passage
Day at Sea & Lectures
Days spent at sea are perfect for unwinding, relaxing, and doing as little or as much as you want to do. If fitness is your thing why not visit the ship’s gym? If you’re more into pampering, perhaps a spa treatment or two is all the energy you want to expend. Out on deck, you can look out for whales or dolphins and simply drink in the sights, sounds, and smells of the South Atlantic. Our advice is to take advantage of these relaxed days - you’ll soon be enjoying long and busy days of Antarctic exploration and adventure!
Day 13, AM
Drake Passage
Day at Sea & Lectures
Days spent at sea are perfect for unwinding, relaxing, and doing as little or as much as you want to do. If fitness is your thing why not visit the ship’s gym? If you’re more into pampering, perhaps a spa treatment or two is all the energy you want to expend. Out on deck, you can look out for whales or dolphins and simply drink in the sights, sounds, and smells of the South Atlantic. Our advice is to take advantage of these relaxed days - you’ll soon be enjoying long and busy days of Antarctic exploration and adventure!
Day 14, AM
Drake Passage
Day at Sea & Lectures
Days spent at sea are perfect for unwinding, relaxing, and doing as little or as much as you want to do. If fitness is your thing why not visit the ship’s gym? If you’re more into pampering, perhaps a spa treatment or two is all the energy you want to expend. Out on deck, you can look out for whales or dolphins and simply drink in the sights, sounds, and smells of the South Atlantic. Our advice is to take advantage of these relaxed days - you’ll soon be enjoying long and busy days of Antarctic exploration and adventure!
Day 15, AM
Disembark & goodbyes
Disembark in Port Stanley
Sadly, it's time to head back to dry land. There are often a few tears and always many hugs when it comes to bidding farewell to your fantastic crew and the new friends you will have made on board. You'll leave the ship here and transfer to the airport at Port Stanley for your onward flight.

Dates & Prices

Select date and participants
Number of guests
2

Your Host: Magellan Explorer

Welcome aboard the Magellan Explorer, an ultra-modern expedition cruise ship built for the Antarctic. An Antarctic trip aboard the Magellan Explorer is unlike the rest. Instead of boarding your cruise ship right away and spending long days crossing the Drake Passage to get to the Antarctica, you’ll take a two-hour plane ride from Punta Arenas straight to the continent itself. This flight will save you time, and you’ll be able to head straight to the Antarctic action. A Magellan Explorer is a pioneer air-cruise is designed for adventure and with your comfort in mind. To manage environmental impact, the Antarctic Treaty limits the numbers of visitors on shore to maximum 100 at one time. A Magellan Explorer air-cruise comfortably accommodates only 73 guests so everyone can go ashore at the same time. This means that you will spend more time ashore, rather than waiting your turn to disembark the ship. The Magellan Explorer cruise ship offers 7 different categories of accommodation, including dedicated single cabins. All cabins except for the Porthole cabins have a private balcony for your enjoyment. All cabins feature a wardrobe, an individually controlled heating system, a private bathroom, a sitting area, and heated floors. The Magellan Explorer cruise ship also features a beautiful glass-enclosed observation lounge deck for guests to awe over the incredible Antarctic views. Guests are welcome to take part in the polar discussions in the presentation room with state-of-the-art audio visual equipment. The polar cruise ship also offers a library, a boutique gym built by the professionals at Anytime Fitness, a sauna, and a medial clinic. The Magellan Explorer comes equipped with a fleet of 10 Zodiac boats, perfectly suited for an Antarctic adventure and a closer look at the flora and fauna. The observation deck aboard the cruise ship also leads to the bow of the ship where guests and crew can better spot marine wildlife. A Magellan Explorer air-cruise is the most modern way to explore the amazing Antarctic region. Time-saving, comfortable, and intimate, this air-cruise rethinks polar exploration for those who have a limited amount of travel time.

Amenities

Observation Lounge Icon
Observation Lounge
Cocktail Symbol
Bar
Library Icon
Library
Conference room icon
Conference Room
Fitness Center Icon
Fitness Center
Sauna Icon
Sauna
Zodia Symbol
Zodiac Fleet

Sustainability

All CO2 emissions of your trip (e.g. local transport, hotel) will be 100% compensated for you by a Gold Standard climate protection project.

Similar Experiences