Experience the magic of Antarctic wildlife on a journey to the Atlantic islands and beyond

In the spirit of early Portugese explorers, embark on an epic journey northbound over the South Atlantic Ocean. Set sail from South America’s southernmost tip, Ushuaia, and explore an incredible spread of islands – East and West Falkland, South Georgia, Tristan da Cunha, St Helena, and Ascension. Then, as if the incredibly diverse wildlife and awe-inspiring Antarctic landscapes weren’t enough, drop anchor at the festive and folk music-filled Cape Verde, a destination off the coast of West Africa that defies categorisation.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Ushuaia, Argentina
Finish
Praia, Cape Verde
Countries
Antarctica, Argentina, Cape Verde, Falkland Islands, Saint Helena, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
Style
Comfort
Theme
Polar, Wildlife
Code
GQMAV
Physical rating
Ages
Min 8
Group size
Min 1, Max 132

Why we love this trip

  • This trip gives new meaning to the word remote, visiting places that are quite literally the most isolated on the planet

  • Experience the wildlife wonderland that is South Georgia, with thousands upon thousands of penguins to be seen

  • From the blackbrowed albatrosses of the Falkland Islands to the warblers and herons of Cape Verde, the birdwatching is outstanding from beginning to end

  • Step back in time in the little-known Tristan da Cunha Islands, an undisturbed, UNESCO-protected gem full of seabird colonies, shipwreck history and warm British hospitality

Is this trip right for you?

  • Although our ice-strengthened ships are big and sturdy, Antarctic and South Atlantic waters can be unpredictable and rough. Some people may experience seasickness, especially on open water crossings. Please be prepared with medications to combat this. There is also a doctor on-board should you need further assistance.

  • On this trip, you are likely to experience all weathers; from the colder temperatures of the Sub Antarctic Islands, to the pleasant Spring temperatures on Ascension and Cape Verde, this trip will have it all. Come prepared.

  • Weather depending, you will be making regular excursions in a Zodiac boat to explore the local area and look for wildlife. It can get very cold and wet on the Zodiac, so make sure you are dressed appropriately and that you keep your camera safe and dry. Sturdy sea legs are needed as you make wet and dry landings from the boat, and on steep terrain, snow and other uneven surfaces. Some ships have a lot of stairs, so please hold on to the handrails if seas are rough.

  • This trip takes you to some of the most remote islands on the planet. Although the ship offers internet connectivity, it will be intermittent and can be expensive. This is one of those trips where you put away the phones and devices, and enjoy the feeling of living in the here and now with whatever the ocean delivers.

Itinerary

At the southernmost tip of South America, the quaint city of Ushuaia is the gateway for your voyage, offering a range of museums, shops, cafés and restaurants to explore before you embark your ship this afternoon. Once aboard, we’ll sail through the scenic Beagle Channel, looking out for seals, sea lions and seabirds. Be sure to be out on deck, ready to take it all in as your avian adventure begins.
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Special Information
Please Note: As the ship will be leaving today, it is recommended to arrive at least one day earlier so possible flight delays will not cause you to miss the ship's departure.
While you’re at sea, dynamic presentations by our on-board experts will prepare you for your expedition and all the excitement that lies ahead
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Upon arrival in the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), you’ll be greeted by a feeling of rugged remoteness. Here, your camera will be put to work capturing the abundant wildlife and vibrant landscape. The archipelago contains two main islands, East Falkland and West Falkland, which you will experience up close by Zodiac and during shore landings.
You’ll also have time to wander Stanley, also called Port Stanley, an eclectic outpost with a British country charm.
You’re free to explore on your own and visit the numerous churches and museums, or pop into the pub, where you’ll find friendly locals eager to chat over a pint.
Wildlife sightings in the archipelago should include at least three species of penguins (Magellanic, gentoo and rockhopper), plus two endemic bird species (Cobb’s wren and the Falkland steamer duck). If you’re lucky, you may spot king penguins and herds of elephant seals, as well! Viewing blackbrowed albatross is almost guaranteed, as 70 percent of the global population lives here.

Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Sailing to South Georgia, you’ll cross the Antarctic Convergence, an invisible biological transition region encircling Antarctica. This meeting of oceans, where the cold Antarctic waters mingle with the warmer waters of the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans is what creates the abundance of krill and marine life that attracts whales to the area. Your Expedition Team will keep an eye out for the albatrosses, petrels and fulmars that frequent the region.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)
  • Lunch (2)
  • Dinner (2)
The first sign that you are approaching South Georgia is the sight of seabirds soaring around a group of rocky spires called Shag Rocks. You will want to be out on deck, ready to photograph these jagged rocks jutting out of the icy ocean. Shags, prions and wandering albatross often rest here.
A paradise for birders, South Georgia plays host to a variety of incredible birdlife, including 30 breeding bird species. Beaches here are dotted with penguins—king and macaroni penguins, in particular—and many rookeries number in the hundreds of thousands of birds! Nesting albatrosses and petrels are also plentiful.
South Georgia was a popular stop for many Antarctic expeditions and was once a base for hunting whales and elephant and fur seals. As you’ll witness firsthand, wildlife populations have rebounded, but you’ll still see remnants of old whaling stations and other abandoned outposts scattered across the island.
One of the most historical sites you will visit is in Grytviken, where you will pay your respects at the grave of the great Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. Grytviken is also home to an old whaling station, museum, gift shop, church and small research station.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)
  • Lunch (2)
  • Dinner (2)
Your next few days at sea can be as busy or as relaxing as you like. Attend presentations, peruse the books in our polar library, chat with your shipmates in the lounge, relax in your well appointed cabin or enjoy the expansive ocean views from the deck, spotting whales and seabirds.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (4)
  • Lunch (4)
  • Dinner (4)
With a long history of early oceanic exploration, the Tristan da Cunha archipelago has seen its share of shipwrecks. The most famous was the British Blenden Hall, destroyed in 1821 en route to Bombay (now Mumbai). Fortunately, all but two aboard survived. Isolated and with a rugged, volcanic terrain, most of these small isolated islands, which host an abundance of birdlife, remain uninhabited to this day.
Together, Gough and Inaccessible Islands comprise two wildlife reserves and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making them the most undisturbed islands in the South Atlantic. Zodiac excursions will take you close to the towering cliffs that support some of the most significant seabird colonies on earth. Bird lovers will marvel at the variety of unique species that include the Inaccessible rail (the world’s smallest flightless bird), Gough bunting, brown noddy, sooty albatross, yellownosed albatross, and Tristan thrush, skuas and buntings. Both islands also host northern rockhopper penguin colonies, so have your camera ready to capture the spectacle of 30,000 breeding pairs of these incredible creatures. With the sheer range of birdlife here, it’s no wonder the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha were identified by BirdLife International as Important Bird Areas!
Just a short cruise away, Nightingale Island awaits. Although only one square mile (3.2 sq km), this active volcano, which last erupted in 2004, is such a prolific breeding ground for more than a million seabirds, as well as endemic land birds, it’s almost completely occupied. It’s the only site in the world where you’ll find both Nightingale and grosbeak buntings.
Ever wonder what the most remote place on the planet is like? Just ask one of the friendly residents of Tristan da Cunha Island, a chunk of volcanic rock smack dab in the middle of nowhere! All descendants of the original settlers, some 260 British citizens live here, in the village of Edinburgh of the Seven Seas—an astounding 1,510 miles (2,430 km) from the nearest inhabited neighbor, St. Helena Island. As you wander the lanes of The Settlement (as islanders call the village) or chat with locals at the lone pub, you’ll soon discover why escaping to Tristan da Cunha is akin to traveling back in time, where you’ll find an old-fashioned hospitality unlike anywhere else. You should also find plenty of pinnamins, the local term for rockhopper penguins.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (5)
  • Lunch (5)
  • Dinner (5)
We offer many activities to keep you engaged and entertained while at sea. Whatever you do—or don’t do!—take a moment to reflect on the amazing creatures you’ve encountered so far. Be sure to keep a lookout for the dolphins and seabirds that inhabit these subtropical waters.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (4)
  • Lunch (4)
  • Dinner (4)
The most inhabited of the islands we’ll visit, with 4,500 people living in the capital of Jamestown, St. Helena boasts a wealth of military history. Dubbed the “secret of the South Atlantic,” the island is so remote, it’s where Napoleon Bonaparte was famously exiled from 1815 until his death in 1821. History buffs will want to explore Napoleon’s residence and pay their respects at his former tomb (which has been empty since his remains were returned to France in 1840).
Wandering down by the wharf, you may feel the urge to climb the 699 steps up Jacob’s Ladder, learn about the island’s past and present at the museum, or visit the oldest Anglican church in the southern hemisphere. Or, perhaps, the breathtaking vistas from the massive High Knoll Fort—built in 1874 on the site of the 1798 citadel—may beckon.
In terms of wildlife, birders especially will want to keep their eyes peeled for the island’s unofficial national bird: the St. Helena plover. Locals call this endemic species the wirebird, thanks to its thin, wirelike legs. The world’s oldest living land animal—a 184-yearold giant tortoise named Jonathan—also lives here!
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)
  • Lunch (2)
  • Dinner (2)
These sea days take you to the islands farthest north in the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, Britain’s second oldest remaining colony.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)
  • Lunch (2)
  • Dinner (2)
At first glance, Ascension may seem stark and completely barren (Charles Darwin, on a brief visit in 1836, famously called it arid and treeless). Indeed, most of the island’s 34 square miles (88 sq km) are surreal, covered with lava flows and cinder cones, but you’ll spot several surprises along the coast: sandy beaches dramatically tucked in between mounds of striking black volcanic rock. The biggest of these is Long Beach, in the capital of Georgetown. Unsuitable for swimming, the beach is a major nesting site for giant green turtles, who journey from their feeding grounds in Brazil. Wildlife lovers will want to have their binoculars out to view, from a safe distance, some of the thousands of females who lay their eggs in the sand.
This rocky outcrop is also the most important seabird breeding site in the tropical Atlantic, supporting more than 400,000 birds and 11 species. Expect to see the endemic Ascension frigate bird, which breeds mainly on nearby Boatswain Bird Island, as well as a large sooty tern colony nesting on coastal cliffs and sea stacks, plus both the masked and the brown booby.
If conditions allow, a short Zodiac cruise off Ascension’s east coast will bring you near Boatswain Bird, a small but significant nature reserve that’s the nesting ground for a vast number of vulnerable endemic seabirds such as black noddies, Madeiran storm petrels, three species of boobies (masked, brown and red footed), and, of course, boatswains (tropicbirds). As you approach the island, some spectacular sights will emerge: the sea rushing through an impressive natural arch, and, hopefully, pods of bottlenose dolphins frolicking in the warm waters.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)
  • Lunch (2)
  • Dinner (2)
Bid adieu to your avian adventure, as your final destination, Cape Verde, awaits! As your ship surges north, crossing the equator, spend some time swapping stories and photos with your shipmates.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (5)
  • Lunch (5)
  • Dinner (5)
Nearing Cape Verde (also called Cabo Verde), you may hear the folk music, or morna, that this island nation, which is about 310 miles (500 km) off the west coast of Senegal, is known for. We’ll stop in Santiago, the main and most geographically diverse of the 10 volcanic islands. As you stroll the streets of the capital of Praia, be sure to take in the colorful colonial architecture and pause to chat with the friendly locals.
If we’re fortunate, as we explore this fertile island, dominated by two volcanic mountain ranges, you may also spot Cape Verde shearwaters, which only breed on the archipelago, as well as the endemic Cape Verde warbler, Alexander’s swift and Bourne’s heron.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
After breakfast aboard the ship, it’s time to part ways with your Expedition Team and newfound friends. With a reputation for morabeza (“hospitality” in Creole), Cape Verde (Cabo Verde) offers many activities, restaurants and hotels for passengers itching to explore more. Eager to experience North Africa or return to the comforts of home? From here, you can catch a direct flight to a number of international destinations.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Please note: We would expect to disembark in Praia after breakfast this morning but bad weather can cause delays, so it is recommended that you don't book onward travel until much later on this day, or stay at least one night in Praia before travelling further.

Meals

32 breakfasts, 31 lunches, 32 dinners

Transport

Expedition vessel, zodiac

Accommodation

Expedition vessel

Dates & availability

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Important notes

BOOKING CONDITIONS
This expedition has an increased deposit requirement of 20% of the full voyage cost (before any discount). The balance is due 120 days before departure.

If a booking is cancelled 120 days or more before departure - the cancellation fee is the full loss of the deposit paid.

If a booking is cancelled between 119 days and departure - the cancellation fee is 100% of the total price of the voyage.

Other fees may apply for air tickets and other arrangements booked in conjunction with a Polar voyage.

Your voyage is operated by our sister company, Quark Expeditions.

Essential trip information

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