This is David’s and One Ocean Expeditions’ most extensive Antarctic Photo Tour. We depart from Ushuaia and make our first stop in the Falkland Islands. Here, we’lll find a relatively warm climate where an abundance of unusual wildlife thrives. Sixty species of migratory birds and the rare rockhopper penguin inhabit these islands all making for great photo opportunities.
Our voyage on the well-appointed Akademik Ioffe continues through the Antarctic convergence to the pristine island of South Georgia, one of David’s favorite photo locations in the world. Towering glacier-covered mountains are merely the backdrop to spectacular wildlife sightings including rookeries of the pompous king penguin, several seal species and the laughable macaroni penguin. We hope to see the South Orkney Islands, often cloaked in mist, as we make our way to the South Shetland Archipelago and Antarctica.
We all experience a deep sense of awe when we first glimpse the much-anticipated continent. Even David, with 12 previous photo expeditions to the frozen continent, is still overwhelmed by its formidable beauty and size. We are greeted by thousands of icebergs that look like modern art sculptures lining the bays of Paradise Harbour or Hope Bay. Meanwhile an overwhelming profusion of wildlife is on display from penguins torpedoing through the water to predatory leopard seals staking their claim on ice floes. We hope to stand on the mainland of the White Continent itself. From this vantage point, it is easy to understand why legendary explorers such as Roald Amundsen and Sir Ernest Shackleton were so captivated by this haunting region. As with all our voyages, safety is our top priority. For that reason weather, ice or other conditions may require us to change our itinerary and shore excursions as we go but that is half the fun of Polar exploring. Predictability is a word that has no relevance in this environment and is especially relevant to photography.
Day 1 / Ushuaia
Today is the first day of our adventure. As we board the vessel in Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city near the tip of Argentina, and start to become familiar with ‘our home’ for the next 18 days we cannot help but wonder about the exciting journey ahead of us. In the early evening, we set sail and begin our voyage leaving behind Ushuaia and charting a course through the Beagle Channel.
Day 2 / At Sea
While spending time out on deck we’ll practice our follow-focus techniques as the sea birds following the ship test the skill level of even the most seasoned wildlife photographer. Sailing northeast, we will likely be joined by the wandering albatross, who we will come to know well on this journey. We’ll also have the chance to spend plenty of time with our onboard polar experts and naturalist. They will be educating us as we go on the wonders of Antarctica.
Days 3 – 4 / Falkland Islands
Arriving in the Falklands overnight, by morning we are all excited to make our first shore excursion. Our plan will be to explore the islands of the West Falkland Archipelago, home to a profusion of seabirds and migratory birds including the black-browed albatross. Our first penguin sightings will be on the island of West Point with its bustling rookeries of rockhoppers. On Carcass Island, we will observe nesting Magellanic penguins along with oystercatchers, geese and the flightless steamer duck who is a permanent Falkland resident.
The next day we will make a stop in Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands. This location always provides photo opportunities as we wander through the charming streets of brightly painted houses. We’ll also learn how this quiet harbor was once a major port in the 19th century for ships attempting to round the formidable waters of Cape Horn. No visit to Port Stanley is complete without making a stop in the famed philatelic museum with its impressive collection of historic stamps.
Days 5 – 6 / At Sea
Now we sail southeast bound for the island of South Georgia. These days at sea are never dull. Much of our time is spent scanning the horizon in search of whales and other marine mammals as well as seabirds. We’ll have time now to review and critique some of the images captured so far at sea as well as in the Falklands.
Our friendly onboard experts continue to fill minds with heroic stories of some of the earliest daredevils to explore Antarctica. We will also learn about Polar conservation – a theme particularly close to the hearts of our One Ocean Expeditions’ guides and crew. The anticipation grows particularly as we cross the Antarctic Convergence and notice a dramatic drop in temperature.
Days 7 – 9 / South Georgia
Regardless of your personal favorite photo subject, be it wildlife, landscapes, details/macro, or even architecture South Georgia will blow you away. Majestic snow-covered mountains greet us on the island the most rugged in this region. We will cruise the protected waters of the eastern coast looking for suitable landing spots such as Salisbury Plain and St Andrews Bay. The highlight of both these excursions is the mind-boggling abundance of king penguin adults and young that live in these locations by the hundreds of thousands, covering every inch of the shore.
That is not the only wildlife on display. Fur seals can be seen poking their heads above the water, skuas and giant petrels swoop in the skies above, and the albatross our constant companion is never far away. We hope to explore an old whaling station at Grytviken (Greet-vik-in) and visit the grave of the most famous Antarctic explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton.
Days 10 – 12 / Sea and South Orkneys
As we cross the Scotia Sea, sailing ever closer to Antarctica, we hope to visit the South Orkney Islands. Linked to the Antarctic Peninsula by an enormous sub-marine mountain range these islands, often shrouded in mist, are protected by large icebergs and sea ice. If we are lucky, there will be an excursion to Coronation Island to observe penguins nesting in moss beds alongside graceful snow petrels. We may also stop at the remote island of Laurie and visit the Argentinean meteorological station located there.
Days 13 – 16 / South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Mainland
Elephant Island, en route to the South Shetland Islands, will be our next destination if conditions are suitable. Here, we will learn more about the famous Antarctic adventures of Sir Ernest Shackleton. This island was a place of refuge in 1916 for Shackleton and his crew after his ship was destroyed by pack ice in the Weddell Sea.
By now we should be encountering large icebergs to train the camera on and we’ll want to be prepared for the unexpected such as a group of penguins hanging out on a berg or even a leopard seal, or both! David will always be available to help with any photography questions and will give presentations when time and conditions allow.
Next, we will spend some time cruising among the South Shetland Islands just off the Antarctic Peninsula. Dazzling wildlife sightings await us on our excursions to some of these islands including King George, Half Moon, Barrientos or Livingston. Adelie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins thrive here, as do several species of seal. We even hope to see the gentle humpback whale dining on krill off King George Island.
Weather permitting, we will visit the flooded volcanic caldera of Deception Island. With rugged scenery, great sites of geologic interest and an overwhelming display of whaling and scientific exploration history, Deception Island is a perfect museum of natural and exploration history. The surroundings are often monochromatic on Deception Island and can make for great B&W photographs. Old water boats and water barrel staves embedded in the black sand beaches are just a few of the interesting features we’ll encounter here. For those wanting to stretch their legs, a spectacular hike to the crater rim offers a challenge.
Finally, after so much anticipation, we will arrive at the Antarctic mainland in Paradise Harbor or Hope Bay. The scenery here from the colossal icebergs to the seemingly endless Antarctic ice sheet is truly breathtaking. Weather permitting, we hope to undertake a shore excursion and set foot on the White Continent itself.
This area provides some of the most dramatic landscape we’ll encounter during the voyage and the name paradise Harbor says it all. Sunsets turn into a sunrise with little time in between. Grab the camera, a hot beverage and hang out on deck watching and of course photographing this beautiful transition. Sleep is optional!
Day 17 – 18 / Drake Passage
As we leave this magical place and make our way back across the Drake Passage. This is a good time to catch up on photo editing and if time allows David will give a presentation on basic Photoshop techniques to polish off your treasures. We have no doubt that time will be spent sharing and reflecting on the wonderful experiences of the last few days and sharing some of your images with each other, including photos you may have captured of each other. After rounding the infamous Cape horn well sail up the Beagle Channel where we celebrate the conclusion of our Polar expedition at a special dinner.
Day 19 / Ushuaia
In the early morning, we will arrive back in Ushuaia. It is time to say farewell to David your crew and fellow travelers. Guests will be transported to their hotels or to the airport for return flights home.
When: Jan 31 – Feb 18, 2015
Time: 18 Nights – 19 Days
Price based on cabin selection. Click here for descriptions.
Triple Share: $13,895
Twin Semi Private: 16,595
Twin Private: $18,295
Shackleton Suite: $20,095
One Ocean Suite: $22,695
Please email us for more information on reserving your spot or with any questions. Thanks!
Click map to view larger.
David’s personal instruction prior to and during the tour.
All meals during the voyage.
All landing cost.
Regular image review during the photo tour as time allows.
End of voyage recap slide show and voyage log notes.
Airfare to and from Ushuaia, Argentina
Lodging before and after voyage
Beverages on-board the ship
Fee for kayaking (optional…not recommended for photographers)
We will be available and happy to answer all your questions, prior to and after booking. This expedition is operated by One Ocean Expeditions a company David has sailed and worked with many times over the years in both Antarctica and the Arctic. David will be the Expedition’s Photographer in Residence.
We’ll be sailing on the ship Akademik Ioffe. Click here to see a larger view and specifications.