Though you can see the total solar eclipse along a few key path locations around the globe, none of them offers as unique a “venue” as Antarctica. Combine that with everything else you’ll enjoy during this voyage and you end up with one truly exceptional adventure. Reserve your place as soon and experience that adventure for yourself!
Day 1: Ushuaia
Your voyage begins where the world drops off. Ushuaia, Argentina,
reputed to be the southernmost city on the planet, is located on the
far southern tip of South America. Starting in the afternoon, you
embark from this small resort town on Tierra del Fuego, nicknamed “The
End of the World,” and sail the mountain-fringed Beagle Channel for
the remainder of the evening.
Day 2: Scotia Sea
Several species of albatross follow the vessel into the westerlies,
along with storm petrels, shearwaters, and diving petrels.
Day 3: The Falklands
The Falkland Islands offer an abundance of wildlife that is easily
approachable, though caution is always advised. These islands are
largely unknown gems, the site of a 1982 war between the UK and
Argentina. Not only do various species of bird live here, but chances
are great you’ll see both Peale’s dolphins and Commerson’s dolphins in
the surrounding waters. During this part of the voyage, you may visit
the following sites:
Despite its name, this island is pleasantly rodent-free and hence
bounteous with birdlife. Anything from breeding Magellanic penguins
and gentoos to numerous waders and passerine birds (including Cobb’s
wrens and tussock-birds) live here.
On Saunders Island you can see the black-browed albatross and its
sometimes-clumsy landings, along with breeding imperial shags and
rockhopper penguins. King penguins, Magellanic penguins, and gentoos
are also found here.
Day 4: Port Stanley
The capital of the Falklands and center of its culture, Port Stanley
offers a little Victorian-era charm: colorful houses, well-tended
gardens, and English-style pubs are all to be found here. You can also
see several century-old clipper ships nearby, silent witnesses to the
hardships of 19th century sailors. The small but interesting museum is
also worth a visit, covering the early days of settlement up to the
Falklands War. Approximately 2,100 people live in Port Stanley. Feel
free to wander at will, though be aware that admission fees to local
attractions are not included in the voyage.
Day 5 - 6: Scotia Sea
On the way to South Georgia, you cross the Antarctic Convergence. The
temperature gradually cools, and nutritious water rises to the surface
of the sea due to colliding water columns. This phenomenon sometimes
attracts a multitude of seabirds near the ship, including several
species of albatross, shearwaters, petrels, prions, and skuas.
Days 7 - 10: South Georgia
Today you arrive at the first South Georgia activity site. Please
keep in mind that weather conditions in this area can be challenging,
largely dictating the program. You may visit the following sites over
the next few days:
Near beaches inhabited by various penguins and seals, you have the
chance to follow the final leg of Shackleton’s route to the abandoned
whaling village of Stromness. This path cuts across the mountain pass
beyond Shackleton’s Waterfall, and as the terrain is partly swampy, be
prepared to cross a few small streams.
Salisbury Plain, St. Andrews Bay, Gold Harbour
These sites not only house the three largest king penguin colonies in
South Georgia, they’re also three of the world’s largest breeding
beaches for southern elephant seals. Only during this time of year do
they peak in their breeding cycle. Watch the four-ton bulls keep a
constant vigil (and occasionally fight) over territories where dozens
of females have just given birth or are about to deliver. You can also
see a substantial number of Antarctic fur seals here during the
breeding season (December – January).
In this abandoned whaling station, king penguins walk the streets and
elephant seals lie around like they own the place – because they
basically do. Here you might be able to see the South Georgia Museum
as well as Shackleton’s grave.
A Zodiac cruise in Cooper Bay offers a great opportunity to see
macaroni penguins below a large rookery. Numerous fur and elephant
seals are found on the beach, while majestic light-mantled albatrosses
can be seeing gracefully gliding above.
Day 11: Southward bound
There may be sea ice on this route, and at the edge of the ice some
south polar skuas and snow petrels could join the other seabirds
trailing the vessel south.
Day 12: Weddell Sea pack ice & total solar eclipse (Dec
4, early morning)
The ship positions itself in the center of the shadow of the moon,
and if possible, some distance into the Scotia Sea drift ice. The ice
edge will be about 60°S, 41°W.
Some coordinates for the path of the moon’s shadow:
7.06 UTC: 58.47.7 S – 42.45.2 W, 1.39 minutes, 8 degrees above horizon
7.08 UTC: 60.42.4 S – 40.59.8 W, 1.42 minutes, 9 degrees above horizon
7.10 UTC: 62.22.3 S – 39.48.0 W, 1.44 minutes, 11 degrees above horizon
Day 13 - 14: Last push to Antarctica
Enormous icebergs and a fair chance of fin whale sightings ensure
there’s never a dull moment on this last sea voyage south. Also, your
best chance to spot Antarctic petrels is here.
Day 15 - 17: Awe-inspiring Antarctica
If the ice conditions permit, you now sail into the Weddell Sea. Here
colossal tabular icebergs herald your arrival to the eastern side of
the Antarctic Peninsula. Paulet Island, with its large population of
Adélie penguins, is a possible stop. You might also visit Brown Bluff,
located in the ice-clogged Antarctic Sound, where you could get the
chance to set foot on the Antarctic Continent itself. If conditions
aren’t favorable to enter the Weddell Sea from the east, the ship will
set course for Elephant Island and head into the Bransfield Strait,
between South Shetland Island and the Antarctic Peninsula. Here you
can attempt to access the Antarctic Sound from the northwest. The
volcanic islands of the South Shetlands are windswept and often
cloaked in mist, but they nonetheless offer many subtle pleasures. A
wide variety of flora (mosses, lichens, flowering grasses) and fauna
(gentoo penguins, chinstrap penguins, southern giant petrels) live
here. On Deception Island, the ship plunges through Neptune’s Bellows
and into the flooded caldera. If a landing here is possible, you will
find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, and thousands of cape
petrels. A number of kelp gulls, brown skuas, south polar skuas, and
Antarctic terns can be spotted here too. Your last activities before
venturing into the Drake Passage are likely to find you around the
northern Gerlache Strait. One option is Cierva Cove and the rugged,
ice-gripped mountains of the Davis Coast. Mikkelsen Harbour on the
south coast of Trinity Island is another alternative. Here you may
enjoy a gentoo penguin rookery as well as some fine scenic cruising.
Conditions on the Drake Passage determine the exact time of departure.
Day 18 - 19: North by sea
Your return voyage is far from lonely. While crossing the Drake,
you’re greeted by a vast array of seabirds. But they seem a little
more familiar to you now, and you to them.
Day 20: Ushuaia
Every adventure, no matter how grand, must eventually come to an end.
It’s now time to disembark in Ushuaia, but with memories that will
accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.