South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula Penguin Safari

About the Experience

If you already know that a group of penguins on land is called a ‘waddle’ and that a group of penguins in the water is referred to as a ‘raft’ then you’re probably a mini expert and fan. Want to join our ‘huddle’ and visit the island with one of the greatest concentrations of wildlife on the planet?

On South Georgia island, penguins number in the hundreds of thousands. There are a lot of waddles and they blanket the beaches as far as the eye can see. (This is not the ideal place to play Beach Blanket Bingo!) King penguins and elephant seals appear in overwhelming numbers on the fabled island linked to the indefatigable explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton.

The Penguin Safari is the fastest way to get to the seldom-visited South Georgia Island while also setting foot on the coveted 7th continent. It’s truly an Out of Africa safari experience complete with elephant seals!

Birders will get their binocular fill too. Expect a daily feed of the mighty albatross and intricately patterned pintado petrels. These seabirds love to guide the way, swooping and soaring around the luxe Ocean Adventurer like reliable wingmen. Wingwomen?

Whether you are hiking in the shadows of a glacier or keeping pace with an inquisitive gentoo, chinstrap or Adélie penguin, you’ll be forever changed. The surreal Antarctica landscape unfolds like the stanzas of a poem. It must be digested slowly, with reflection. It’s staggering. Each Zodiac excursion offers countless opportunities to witness life above and below the surface in indelible encounters.

You can explore the rugged, resilient peninsula by sea kayak or experience the treeless terrain on foot. Or, plunge right into the Antarctic Ocean to truly embrace the bracing waters.

Did you know that penguins have two days dedicated to them every year? January 20th is Penguin Awareness Day and April 25th is World Penguin Day. Make 2024 the year that you choose to celebrate them in their company! *Tuxedos not required.

Please note: This is not an exclusive Wild Women Expeditions or 100% women-only trip. The Wild Women group size on the Ocean Adventurer (capacity 128 guests) can range from 10 to 40 women. In addition, the ship’s staff and crew (87) will also be co-ed.

Click here to see the full itinerary!
South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula Penguin Safari

About the Experience

If you already know that a group of penguins on land is called a ‘waddle’ and that a group of penguins in the water is referred to as a ‘raft’ then you’re probably a mini expert and fan. Want to join our ‘huddle’ and visit the island with one of the greatest concentrations of wildlife on the planet?

On South Georgia island, penguins number in the hundreds of thousands. There are a lot of waddles and they blanket the beaches as far as the eye can see. (This is not the ideal place to play Beach Blanket Bingo!) King penguins and elephant seals appear in overwhelming numbers on the fabled island linked to the indefatigable explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton.

The Penguin Safari is the fastest way to get to the seldom-visited South Georgia Island while also setting foot on the coveted 7th continent. It’s truly an Out of Africa safari experience complete with elephant seals!

Birders will get their binocular fill too. Expect a daily feed of the mighty albatross and intricately patterned pintado petrels. These seabirds love to guide the way, swooping and soaring around the luxe Ocean Adventurer like reliable wingmen. Wingwomen?

Whether you are hiking in the shadows of a glacier or keeping pace with an inquisitive gentoo, chinstrap or Adélie penguin, you’ll be forever changed. The surreal Antarctica landscape unfolds like the stanzas of a poem. It must be digested slowly, with reflection. It’s staggering. Each Zodiac excursion offers countless opportunities to witness life above and below the surface in indelible encounters.

You can explore the rugged, resilient peninsula by sea kayak or experience the treeless terrain on foot. Or, plunge right into the Antarctic Ocean to truly embrace the bracing waters.

Did you know that penguins have two days dedicated to them every year? January 20th is Penguin Awareness Day and April 25th is World Penguin Day. Make 2024 the year that you choose to celebrate them in their company! *Tuxedos not required.

Please note: This is not an exclusive Wild Women Expeditions or 100% women-only trip. The Wild Women group size on the Ocean Adventurer (capacity 128 guests) can range from 10 to 40 women. In addition, the ship’s staff and crew (87) will also be co-ed.

DAY 1 Ushuaia, Argentina

Day 1 Ushuaia, Argentina

Your dream will begin to unfold in Ushuaia, “the gateway to Antarctica.” You may arrive at any time today but why not take advantage of an extra day or two of pre-trip exploration? This lively adventure hub is the most southerly city in the world and the capital of Tierra del Fuego (“Land of Fire”). Here, travelers (both coming and going) are vibrating with anticipation and exhilaration. This is where the Andes meet the famed Beagle Channel and the grade school maps you coloured with a lot of indigo blue Crayola appear in 3D!

Poke around the vibrant artisan markets or slide into a café for your first authentic alfajore (an irresistible Argentinian dulce de leche cookie). It won’t be your last! There are several museums including one that is housed in a former prison (Museo Marítimo y del Presidio de Ushuaia). Learn about sailing, whaling and natural history in a museum hop or aimlessly wander the streets and absorb the town’s dramatic setting in a pocket of snow-blanketed mountains purring with travelers ready to embark on their dream. Make sure to try the king crab and local lamb, it won’t disappoint!

 

DAY 2 Embark

Day 2 Embark

In the morning, your luggage will be collected from the lobby of your hotel, safely transferred to the ship and stored in your cabin for your arrival. 

Ship embarkation usually occurs late in the afternoon (4pm). Your fellow Wild Women and jittery shipmates will meet at a designated location near the pier to board the waiting buses for transfer to the ship. Detailed information about embarkation will be posted in your Ushuaia hotel and discussed in highly organized-Virgo form during the (optional) pre-departure meeting on Day 1.

After the goosebump-inducing ship horn blast, our vessel, the mighty Ocean Adventurer will begin her hotly-anticipated sail down the historic Beagle Channel which transects the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in the extreme south of South America. Anticipation will be at an all time high as the thrill and magic of the 7th continent’s secrets are slowly unveiled. This is the world’s most southern continent! 

 

DAY 3 to 6 At Sea

Days 3 to 6 At Sea

Your days at sea will be seamlessly filled with engaging presentations led by the ship’s energetic and expert Expedition Team. Expect dynamic crash courses in photography, wildlife behavior, marine biology, ornithology, geology, glaciology and history. In between the juicy presentations, you are encouraged to spend time on deck searching for wildlife. Or, swap travel stories with the Wild Women gals over a drink at the bar. It seems appropriate to sample the fine reds of Argentina to fully slip into the proper continental groove. 

You will be thoroughly prepped on safety procedures for the Zodiac excursions and shore landings. For those who wish to take advantage of the sea kayaking opportunity (this is an additional fee), instructions will be given to ensure an optimal experience. 

If conditions are cooperative, we will see the seabirds clustered around the rocky spires known as Shag Rocks. The birds provide our first indication that we are approaching South Georgia. 

Have your cameras at the ready to capture these surreal rocky spires rising out of the icy ocean waters like a fantastical movie set. Shags and prions often rest here, and due to nutrient rich upwellings around the rocks, it’s the perfect spot to be on high alert for whales.

 

DAY 7 & 8 South Georgia

Days 7 and 8 South Georgia

South Georgia captivates every traveller that steps foot on its fairytale shores. Home to the greatest concentration of wildlife on the planet, penguins number in the hundreds of thousands, blanketing beaches as far as the eye can see. This is not the best place to play Beach Blanket Bingo.

There is nowhere else like South Georgia, it has the largest density of wildlife anywhere in the world. Dubbed the ‘Galapagos of the Poles’, it’s home to over 30 million breeding birds including the nesting sites of the wandering albatross (notice the resourceful repurposed dung and mud construction materials!). Thousands of seals, four breeding species of penguin and the largest colony of King Penguins on the planet all live semi-harmoniously in this community. On South Georgia, there are no terrestrial predators–birds and wildlife are not threatened by human presence, permitting exceptional up close observations that don’t disturb their natural behavior.

Let’s not forget the backdrop either: jade green bays, powder peaks and surreal glacier ice that deserves its own paint chip! We’ll absorb all the blues (cerulean, azure, periwinkle, cornflower, electric–what do you see in the ice?) by Zodiac and on foot. 

We will spend two days exploring this remote island and the history that bleeds out of its core. South Georgia was an intrinsic part of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated Endurance expedition and was once the centre of the whaling industry with an old whaling station that serves as a ghostly reminder. Our Expedition Team will revisit South Georgia of yesteryear with captivating tall tales.

One of the most significant sites we will visit on the island is Grytviken. This settlement was the first whaling station established in sub-Antarctic waters–it’s also the site of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s grave.

Each day will be a surprise. Landing sites will vary and be wholly dependent on the weather. Nature doesn’t follow a predictable plot! Stand in awe amongst hundreds of thousands of penguins. It’s a safari that is truly Out of Africa!

Each excursion offers countless opportunities to witness life above and below the surface. Your camera will be working overtime just like your pounding heart! Amid the serene, otherworldly  silence of Antarctica, the noisy interludes seem more amplified than a Rolling Stones concert. Just wait until you tune into your first penguin argument. Their squabbles over coveted pebbles are animated and not unlike human bickering! Of course the sudden boom and shearing of a calving glacier creates an instant hush as everyone (even the penguins having a heated debate) realizes the ultimate, domineering power of nature.

 

DAY 9 & 10 At Sea

Days 9 and 10 At Sea

Say goodbye to the royal king penguins, as your next destination is Antarctica! Our days at sea are juiced with presentations and workshops led by our chill Expedition Team, who will provide all the intel you crave on the wildlife and landscapes of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Sea days provide the perfect time to unwind with your fellow Wild Women over tea or coffee. Or, truly unwind with wine! There are seven dominant wine regions in Argentina: Mendoza, Salta, Neuquén, Río Negro, Catamarca, La Rioja and San Juan. Here’s your wine-sipping challenge: Name the eight species of whales commonly found in Antarctic waters!

 

DAY 11 to 13 Antarctic Peninsula

Days 11 to 13 Antarctic Peninsula

Sailing towards the peninsula, there is an abrupt dip in temperature as we cross the Antarctic Convergence, the invisible biological boundary encircling the continent before entering the bracing waters of the Antarctic Ocean. Here, the unforgiving north-flowing polar region waters  mix and mingle with the warmer south-flows of the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Seabirds, whales and other species are magnetically drawn to the nutrient and krill-rich waters. 

They have the longest wingspan of any bird on the planet (7 to 8ft /2.1 to 2.4m for the black-browed albatross while the wandering albatross can measure up to 12ft/3.7m) so you should be able to spot them! If you need to give your craning neck a rest, scan the moody waters for breaching minke whales and bobbing icebergs. Chinstrap, Adélie and gentoo penguins are also found here, along with Weddell, fur, crabeater and leopard seals. 

Perhaps you’ll test your own wingspan and sign up for a genuine deep dive: an authentic polar plunge in Antarctic waters!

Plunge 101: The polar plunge is scheduled once during each voyage and the optimal location is chosen with careful monitoring and analysis by our Expedition Leader and Captain. The Polar Plunge sometimes takes place onshore or, in many cases, from the gangway or Zodiac (brave participants wear a tethered harness and their hearts on their sleeve!).

Safety is paramount on the Ocean Adventurer—the onboard physician always attends the Polar Plunge. Guides in survival gear circle the area in Zodiacs as fearless guests take their turn jumping or cannon-balling into the polar waters.

For those who would prefer to dip a kayak paddle into the ocean (instead of their body), we can kit up for a paddling excursion (for an additional fee)!

Fun facts: 

The black-browed albatross can live up to 70 years!

Fur seals are the only seals with visible ears in the Antarctic.

Gentoos are the fastest diving bird in the world (35km or 22 miles/hour) which is unofficially on pace or possibly faster than Canadian Olympian swimmer Penny Oleksiak.

 

DAY 14 & 15 Crossing the Drake Passage

Days 14 and 15 Crossing the Drake Passage

After more than a dozen dizzying days of remarkable wildlife encounters and landscapes, our journey home begins with a sigh and a monumental moment.

Crossing the Drake is an unofficial rite of passage. The Drake Passage has nothing to do with Canada’s rapper and media darling, Drake, though some millennials might assume an affiliation. Named after the legendary English explorer, Sir Frances Drake, the Passage splits the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula from the southernmost tip of South America. As Melissa Etheridge sang, “the only thing that stays the same is change.” The Passage is famously unpredictable—it can be rough and turbulent or as calm as a curled up cat in a sunny spot—so be prepared!

Spend time on deck watching for seabirds and whales, lean back into some insightful presentations by the Expedition Team or simply relax and reflect.

 

DAY 16 Disembark in Ushuaia

Day 16 Disembark in Ushuaia

After breakfast on the ship, we will arrive in Ushuaia starry-eyed from all that we’ve seen and felt at sea. The ship is scheduled to arrive at the pier between 7am and 8am. Please note: It can take up to one hour to disembark.

We encourage you to continue your adventure–explore the city a little deeper or discover the wilds of Tierra del Fuego National Park, the most southerly national park of South America. This bountiful park offers several hiking trails (choose from an easy stroll or strenuous quad-quivering climb) that wind around peat bogs, lagoons, woodland, rugged coastline, glaciers, pounding waterfalls and still lakes. Birders will go bonkers for the airshow of austral parakeets, Andean condor, Magellanic oystercatchers, kelp geese and torrent ducks.

Or, tightly embrace your Wild Women mates, decide where you’ll go next and head to the airport for a reflective flight home!

Airport transfers will be provided or you can opt for a transfer to town, depending on your post-trip plans.

 

Disclaimer: We don’t like to blame Mother Nature but she has her off days and weather conditions can change in a snap and affect our arrival times. Airline schedule changes have also been known to occur in Argentina too so pack a little patience with your extra granola bars. We advise not booking flights until mid or late afternoon.

Friendly reminder: Embracing the unexpected is an integral part of expedition travel. There are no guarantees that we can achieve everything we set out to accomplish. A measure of flexibility is something all of us must bring to a voyage (this doesn’t mean you have to demonstrate a downward dog to participate!). There are nearly 200 recognized sites in the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetlands and the places mentioned in this itinerary may be changed to others equally as riveting! 

Your first homework assignment: 29 Penguin Facts That Every Good Penguin-Lover Should Know

 

About the Ocean Adventurer

The Ocean Adventurer has long been a fleet favorite among guests and crew who’ve appreciated the charm of this nimble vessel, its ample outdoor deck space, numerous cozy spots to socialize onboard, the outdoor jacuzzi and, of course, the intimacy of a 128-passenger vessel. In 2017, Ocean Adventurer underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation including a refreshed look and feel throughout, plus a completely remodeled lounge, dining room and bar. All cabins received brand new bathroom facilities. Six new deluxe cabins, as well as three new suites, were also added. Major technical enhancements featured two new Rolls-Royce engines, which yield increased speed and fuel efficiency, and a minimized carbon footprint.

 

Click here to see upcoming trip dates to book your spot!
Category 1, Lower Deck Twin $16995USD

A Lower Deck Twin cabin has two lower berths, private facilities, and a porthole with exterior views. Please note that porthole covers may be closed during sea days or during inclement weather as a safety precaution.

  • Size (sqf): 117-132
  • Occupancy: 1-2
  • Bed Configuration: 2 twin beds
  • Class: Standard
  • Location: Lower Deck

CABIN DETAILS FOR LOWER DECK

Category 2, Main Deck Porthole Twin $17,995USD

A Main Deck Twin Porthole cabin has two lower berths, private facilities, and a porthole with exterior views. Please note that porthole covers may be closed during sea days or during inclement weather as a safety precaution.

  • Size (sqf): 113-132
  • Occupancy: 1-2
  • Bed Configuration: 2 twin beds
  • Class: Standard
  • Location: Main Deck

Category 3. Main Deck Window Twin $19,995USD

A Main Deck Twin Window cabin has two lower berths, private facilities, and two windows with exterior views.

  • Size (sqf): 115-160
  • Occupancy: 1-2
  • Bed Configuration: 2 twin beds
  • Class: Standard
  • Location: Main Deck
Category 4, Upper Deck Superior Twin $20,995USD

A Superior cabin has two lower berths, private facilities, and windows with exterior views. Note: this cabin has either corner or parallel bed configuration.

  • Size (sqf): 132-163
  • Occupancy: 1-2
  • Bed Configuration: 2 twin beds
  • Class: Premium
  • Location: Captain's Deck , Upper Deck

CABIN DETAILS FOR CAPTAIN’S DECK

Category 5, Captain's Deck Deluxe Twin $20,995USD

A Deluxe Cabin has two lower berths, private facilities and windows with exterior views.

  • Size (sqf): 144-179
  • Occupancy: 1-2
  • Bed Configuration: 2 twin beds
  • Class: Premium
  • Location: Captain's Deck
Category 6, Bridge Deck Suite Twin $27,995USD

A Suite has a double bed, windows with exterior views and private facilities. 

  • Size (sqf): 215-267
  • Occupancy: 1-2
  • Bed Configuration: 1 double bed made of two single berths
  • Class: Premium
  • Location: Captain's Deck