PLEASE NOTE THAT THE ROUTE AND DATES FOR THIS TOUR HAVE CHANGED.
After leaving Tristan da Cunha, the new Atlantic Odyssey tour will now run to St Helena and Ascension Island.
Dates and prices have also changed.
CAPE TO CAPE
Antarctica, South Georgia, Gough, Tristan da Cunha and Cape Town
For Photos of our previous tours click here
Most visitors to the Antarctic rate it as their best ever destination. For many this will be a once in a lifetime experience. This journey from Cape Horn to Cape Town, via the Antarctic peninsula, South Georgia, Gough Island and Tristan da Cunha is perhaps the ultimate in south polar expedition cruising.
Our tour will traverse the South Atlantic Ocean from Cape Horn to the Cape of Good Hope visiting three continents. Leaving Tierra del Fuego, the ‘land of fire’, we will search for albatrosses in Drake’s passage. On reaching Antarctica, Adelie and Chinstrap Penguins form large colonies. As we enter the Weddell Sea we will see massive icebergs drifting from the Larsen Ice shelf. Emperor Penguins have recently been found breeding here and are sometimes seen among the ice floes. We then journey past the South Orkneys to South Georgia, home to nesting Wandering, Black-browed, Grey-headed and Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses. Thousands of King Penguins breed along with hundreds of Gentoo and Macaroni Penguins.
We will pass through the feeding grounds of thousands of seabirds to reach Gough Island and Tristan da Cunha. Endemic landbirds breed alongside Brown Noddies and Northern Rockhopper Penguins. Tristan Albatross is endemic and breeding Yellow-nosed and Sooty Albatross are also here. This is the home of the amazing Spectacled Petrel and Great Shearwater. Few birders have been privileged to visit this remote spot. On nearing Cape Town, the rich Benguela current brings us new species such as Atlantic Petrel and Long-tailed Skua with a possibility of Indian Ocean species as we round the Cape. Our final, and potentially ninth penguin species is the Jackass.
Antarctica and the South Atlantic are no longer just the realm of the Amundsens, Scotts and Attenboroughs of this world; it is ours. With limited places, we can expect this cruise to sell out extremely quickly, so please book early to ensure a place.
BUENOS AIRES AND USHUAIA
We will arrive in Buenos Aires in the evening and transfer straight to our hotel, for a two night stay. The next day we will visit Costanera Sur Reserve, on the banks of the Rio Plata, not far from the city centre. Here there are wetland birds including Black-necked Swan, plus small birds such as Vermilion Flycatcher, Guira Cuckoo, Black-and-rufous Warbling-finch and Masked Yellowthroat. The next day we will fly to Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego, spending one night in a hotel there.
Birdwatching on Tierra del Fuego, we will check the bays for Steamer Ducks and Chilean Skuas. The Andes end here and each visit we have seen Andean Condors soaring over the hillsides above Ushuaia. We will depart in the evening on our ship, the Professor Multanovskiy, to cruise the Beagle Channel. We may spot our first Dolphin Gulls, Imperial Cormorants and Magellanic Penguin.
This is one trip where travelling becomes a joy rather than a chore. The attendant seabirds are close, photogenic and extraordinarily numerous. Most enjoy following ships and provide excellent views. Prions, Antarctic Fulmars, Black-bellied Storm-petrels, Pintado and Blue Petrels, and Southern and Northern Giant Petrels all play second fiddle to the large Grey-headed and Black-browed Albatrosses.
Crossing the Antarctic Convergence, seabird species change as we enter colder Antarctic waters. Soon we see our first icebergs, some the size of an English shire. Reaching the Antarctic Peninsula we will land on sheltered islands to visit the vast penguin colonies in our search for Adelie, Gentoo and Chinstrap Penguins. We also hope to set foot on the continent itself, where penguins are joined by beautiful Snow Petrels, and Weddell and Leopard Seals. Landings provide the chance to see Blue-eyed Shag and Southern Giant Petrels nesting, while Brown and South Polar Skuas can be seen making opportunistic sorties over the colonies.
A colony of Emperor Penguins has recently been discovered in the Weddell Sea. As we enter the area we will cruise among drifting sea ice in search of them. They often rest on the ice floes and so we’ll keep a sharp eye open.
As the icebergs disappear we reach South Georgia, home to thousands of King Penguins and duelling Elephant Seals. Several landings over three days will allow us to see them at very close range, sometimes even on the streets of Grytviken or by Shackleton’s Grave! Macaroni Penguins breed among the tussocks where endemic pintails and pipits breed. Our walk past colonies of Fur Seals will allow us to reach the breeding grounds of the Wandering Albatross. The 12 foot wingspan of the world’s largest flying bird has to be seen to be believed. To sit among them is a real privilege.
Black-browed, Grey-headed and the gorgeous Light-mantled Sooty Albatross all nest on the cliffs. Antarctic Terns roost on the rocks and Wilson’s Storm-petrels fly up to their nests among jagged peaks above awesome glaciers. South Polar Skuas are replaced by Brown Skuas, while gatherings of seabirds can give an indication of where whales are feeding. Prions of various species seek the company of Humpbacks and Minkes. We have seen many other cetaceans, including Orcas, Hourglass Dolphins and the mighty Blue Whale.
Our time at sea is well spent, picking out Grey-backed among the more numerous Black-bellied and White-bellied Storm-petrels. Kerguelan or White-headed Petrel is more likely as we approach Gough and Tristan da Cunha and White-chinned Petrels should accompany us all the way to Africa.
GOUGH ISLAND AND TRISTAN DA CUNHA
On day 17 at sea we reach Gough Island, on the first of four days in the archipelago. A zodiac cruise along the coast of Gough may allow us to circumnavigate the island providing a chance to see the rare Tristan Albatross. The endemic Gough Moorhen can be seen feeding along the shore.
Landing on Nightingale and Inaccessible Islands in the Tristan da Cunha archipelago, we will find Brown Noddies and Atlantic Yellow-nosed and Sooty Albatrosses. Most of the world’s Great Shearwaters nest here, alongside Great-winged, Soft-plumaged and Spectacled Petrels.
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
Arriving in African waters, the cold Benguela current provides food for a new selection of species. Everything from Red-necked Phalaropes to Great White Sharks have been sighted. Arctic, Long-tailed and Pomarine Skuas may swell our trip list to six species of ‘pirates’. A Southern Royal could make nine species of Albatross. Finally, our last penguin, the Jackass should be swimming in the bay at Cape Town.
Sadly, we will fly to London in the evening or you may choose to extend your stay in Cape Town….
On this trip, expedition staff will decide where we should visit based on their experience, wildlife knowledge and ice conditions. Excursions are made using zodiacs, as conditions allow. Walks will be at a leisurely pace on uneven ground or snow. Only basic fitness is required but there is some optional uphill walking. Daytime temperatures at this time average +6°C in Antarctica.
Full-board accommodation is provided with two nights at Buenos Aires, one night at Ushuaia and 25 nights on board the Professor Multanovskiy. The ship takes about 50 passengers, so you will not have the landing problems and queues associated with larger ships. The ship is part of a fleet of Finnish-built research vessels owned by Oceanwide, a Dutch company. Cabins are twins or triples. Both have upper and lower berths. There is a supplement for en suite cabins.
To view the deck plan click here, then click on 'vessels', then 'Professor Multanovskiy', then 'cabins & deck plan'.
PRICE INCLUDES …..
Full-board accommodation, soft drinks at meal times, all excursions with expedition staff and Bird Holidays’ leader, transport, internal flight (Buenos Aires to Ushuaia), international flights from London and airport taxes.
Travel insurance, payable at the time of booking. Personal items, alcoholic drinks, laundry, tips.
Outbound flight from London Heathrow to Buenos Aires, via Madrid, using the scheduled services of Iberia Airlines. Inbound flight from Cape Town to Heathrow using South African Airlines. Outbound flight departs early morning, return flight arrives back early morning. Connecting shuttle flights are available on this tour for £70 return (due at time of booking), from other regional airports. However, due to the flight times it may be necessary to stay overnight at Heathrow. Please call for details.
29 nights including
one overnight flight:
Maximum group size:
Cost with discount
(if you book before
29th November 2009):
Discount if sharing in triple cabin:
Superior cabin supp:
25th March to 23rd April 2010
Phil Palmer, plus local guides in Argentina and expedition staff on board ship
The ship is restricted to 56 passengers
£7950 per person (twin cabin)
£8100 per person (twin cabin)
£800 per person (twin only)
£1560 per person (twin only)
£82 due at time of booking
(£123 for age 65 to 69)
(£164 for age 70 and over)
For Photos click here
To see Phil's review of the 'Complete Guide to Antarctic Wildlife' on Birdguides website click here