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We are Birders - We are Leica

We are Birders - We are Leica

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South Georgia & the Falkland Islands, Earth's Greatest Wildlife Destination

October 20 to November 7, 2016, our last expedition focused on South Georgia Island in the Antarctic – don’t miss this grand finale. 10% off new reservations.


Invitation of Ted Cheeseman to join the Unique Expedition to South Georgia"As expedition leader, I am pleased to welcome friends of Far South Expeditions aboard this uniquely in-depth expedition! South Georgia is the crown jewel of the Antarctic — after 20 years of expeditions there, it is still my favorite place on the planet, and I look forward to sharing its glorious wildlife with you."

Ted Cheeseman, Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris 




Book this trip, reserve space now!Experience the vibrant spring of this Antarctic wildlife paradise. Observe and photograph special wildlife behaviors seldom seen beneath the towering, snow blanketed mountains of South Georgia Island. Southern Elephant Seal bulls fight for breeding rights while females nurse young, vast colonies of loafing King Penguins, Macaroni Penguins launching into the ocean, distinctly marked Gray-headed Albatross attending to their cliffside nests, and awkward Wandering Albatross young attempting first flight. Discover this and much more with our experienced leaders on this island without a permanent human population. Our itinerary includes six landing days on South Georgia and three landing days in the Falkland to observe Rockhopper Penguins bounding from rock to rock, Magellanic Penguins standing watch at their nesting burrows, and Black-browed Albatross soaring above you to land at their nest. To commemorate Shackleton’s famous self-rescue crossing South Georgia, we also offer an optional trek retracing their steps. Through our twenty years of experience in the Antarctic, we commit to an in-depth exploration of one of the densest wildlife spectacles found anywhere in the world, and with only 100 passengers, we create opportunities to completely immerse yourself at each landing.



At a Glance 


Wandering Albatross, South Georgia Island © Ted Cheeseman, Cheesemans Ecology Safaris


  • Immerse yourself in snow-covered, dramatic landscapes filled with wildlife during six landing days in South Georgia and three landing days in the Falklands. We emphasize spending the maximum amount of time possible in the field, both on land and cruising in Zodiacs.
  • Witness and hear the cacophony of chatter of King Penguins in colonies of up to 150,000 bonded pairs.
  • Marvel at the backdrop of snow-capped mountains descending into valleys and glacier-fed rivers emptying into the ocean.
  • Watch from a safe distance as Southern Elephant Seal males fight to maintain control of their territory and mate with the receptive females within their harem. See females with new pups and curious weaners.
  • Visit Wandering Albatross with nearly fledged chicks on Prion Island and the endangered nesting Gray-headed Albatross at Elsehul, an almost impossible task at other times of year because of territorial Antarctic Fur Seals.
  • With only 100 participants, everyone can be on shore together rather than taking shifts as required for vessels with more passengers.
  • Our 14 experienced leaders are polar specialists, photographers, and naturalists who will share their expertise with you through on-board lectures, workshops, guided excursions, and casual interactions on the deck and at the dinner table. 


Optional Extensions 

  • Falkland Island Extension: Pre-trip week-long extension including Carcass, West Point, and Sea Lion Islands along with a day trip to Volunteer Point from October 13 to 22, 2016. See separate itinerary for details.
  • Shackleton Crossing Trek Option during the expedition: Mid-trip two to three days of trekking across the mountainous spine of South Georgia to follow in the footsteps of Shackleton, Crean, and Worsley in the final leg of their epic self-rescue. Prior sign-up is required. Cost is not included. Mountaineering experience is required. See separate itinerary for details. 

Cost: $12,895 to $22,195 per person, shared occupancy, depending on cabin choice, not including airfare, singles extra. See the Costs section on page 13.


Group Size: 100 participants. With 100 participants everyone can land at once, rather than in separate groups, giving you more time on shore. 

Number of Days: 19 days total, including estimated travel time with 16 days aboard the Sea Spirit.


Leader and Staff: Hugh Rose will be our Expedition Leader, part of our diverse and incredibly experienced expedition staff of 14. See Our Expedition Staff information on page 3. Additional staff with biographies and photos will be added.


Ship: The impressively stable and very capable Sea Spirit. See Our Ship on page 6 for more details and the last page for the deck plan.


Conditions: This is a non-smoking expedition for people who are very interested in spending the maximum time in the field. See the Conditions section on page 16.



Itinerary updated May 2016 





October 20 - 21

Depart home and arrive in Santiago, Chile on the 21st for an overnight. Santiago city day tour (optional).

Santiago Airport Holiday Inn, Santiago


October 22

Fly to Stanley, Falkland Islands. Embark on the Sea Spirit.

Aboard the Sea Spirit

B, L, D

October 23 – 24

Cruise the South Scotia Sea to South Georgia across the rich waters of the “Polar Front.”

B, L, D

October 25 – 30

South Georgia, about six days in a wildlife extravaganza.

B, L, D

October 31 – November 1

Cruise northwest back to the Falkland Islands.

B, L, D

November 2 – 4

Landings on the Falkland Islands – Sea Lion Island, Steeple Jason Island, and New Island.

B, L, D

November 5

Cruise southwest to Ushuaia.

B, L, D

November 6

Disembark the Sea Spirit and fly homeward from Ushuaia.


November 7

Arrive home.



Detailed Itinerary 



A note about expedition cruising: Due to the expeditionary nature of our voyage, specific stops cannot be guaranteed. Flexibility is paramount in expedition travel; the following itinerary depends on the conditions at the time of travel. We strive to land often and stay as long as possible, abiding by the Guidelines for Responsible Eco-tourism from IAATO.


October 20-21, Thursday-Friday ~ Flights to Santiago and city tour 

Plan to arrive in Santiago, Chile by October 21 for an overnight (included). Nonstop flights are available to Santiago (SCL) from many international airports, most traveling overnight and arriving in the early morning. Transfer to our hotel to join our optional Santiago city tour or for a free day to explore historic and colorful Santiago. An evening welcome reception will be held at our hotel.


October 22, Saturday ~ Flights  to Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and Embark 

Take the single weekly flight from Santiago to Stanley in the Falkland Islands that you must book yourself. Upon arrival in Stanley early in the afternoon, we will be met at Mount Pleasant Airport and transferred to the Sea Spirit. You will have time to walk through town and explore this small corner of the English empire that appears as if time has forgotten it. Stanley is an attractive town, and the last center of human population we will see before our arrival in Ushuaia, Argentina at the voyage’s end. We will be welcomed by our Captain and our fine staff and crew, as well as enjoy our first dinner aboard our ship before departing for South Georgia!


October 23-24, Sunday-Monday ~ Sail to South Georgia

By morning we will be far from the Falklands heading southeast with albatrosses at our stern. Familiarization on all aspects of ship life and preparations for what to expect in South Georgia will keep us busy with time in between for viewing from the bridge or stern. If the skies are blue, the weather could be quite balmy, about 15°C, about 50–60°F. Photographers on the stern will have a field day following birds on the wing in their viewfinders. Wandering Albatross should be following us today, plus many Black-browed Albatross and other ‘tubenoses’, plus we always have a chance of a Southern or Northern Royal albatross on the wing. In these waters we cross the Polar Front (aka the Antarctic Convergence), which is excellent birding habitat. Here, two bodies of water meet and as the salty, cold Antarctic water mixes alongside warmer, fresher water from the north and water temperatures plummet from about 4–6° C down to 0° C in a period of about eight cruising hours. The birds we will see, although not in great numbers, will be outstanding, especially the large albatrosses. Fishing fur seals and pods of whales show the richness of these waters. There is a chance of sighting Fin, Antarctic Minke, and Southern Right Whale and more elusive species as well. Fin Whales are very difficult to approach, as they are the fastest of the rorqual whales and can quickly leave us behind. In these waters we have found almost a dozen species of petrels (including three species of storm-petrels and Common Diving-Petrel), six species of albatross, thousands of Antarctic Prions, Southern Fulmars plus Greater and Sooty shearwaters. Snow Petrels are even possible as we round the northeast end of South Georgia. During this time at sea, crossing about 730 nautical miles from the Falklands, we will have lectures on photography, wildlife, and ecology related to the areas we will be visiting. The prevailing current will be in our direction.



October 25-30, Tuesday-Sunday ~ Explore South Georgia Island

Arrival time at South Georgia will depend on weather conditions and currents, from as early as pre-dawn October 25 to sometime on October 26. One of the most remote islands in the world, South Georgia is the heart of this expedition, as we spend six to seven days in this wild landscape of penguins, albatrosses, and seals. The mountainous rugged interior, a geologic continuation of the Andes chain, is carved by more than 150 glaciers into spectacular fjords and ringed by islands. South Georgia has incredible possibilities for landings all along the northeastern leeward coastline, the focus of our exploration during these days.



Our timing in this voyage is carefully chosen to experience South Georgia in a seldom seen but extremely vibrant time. We are of course on an expedition cruise where the weather and conditions as we find them will determine our schedule. But we plan to make the most of our time in South Georgia by paying close attention to the changes in breeding seasons particularly of Antarctic Fur Seals and Southern Elephant Seals. We travel before the peak of fur seal breeding in November and December, when males stake out territories in the northern reaches of the island at densities so high that travel ashore becomes both dangerous and disruptive. Meanwhile the peak of Southern Elephant Seal breeding is in October, and, during this time, the world’s largest seals vie to be ‘beachmasters’, dominating stretches of beach where females come to pup. We will make it a priority to experience this! We will stop in the northeast of the island for an introduction and a chance at some of the special sites unavailable to us once fur seals are in the height of their breeding, then we will travel south to experience the scale and density of breeding colonies in St. Andrews Bay and Gold Harbour. From there, we will take our time exploring back northward, absorbing the great richness and variety offered by South Georgia to voyagers so fortunate as ourselves.


Potential Landing Sites in South Georgia 


Elsehul: Our first landings in South Georgia will be at beaches that will become prohibitively dense with fur seals later in the season. Elsehul is a perfect example, where the sublimely beautiful Gray-headed Albatross nest on steep tussock grass slopes. Here Gray-headed Albatross are the first to lay eggs, so we are sure to find them sitting on nests looking out over the dramatic cove of Elsehul. They sit above a prime fur seal breeding beach, and, at this date, the Antarctic Fur Seals should not be so territorial as to refuse our passage. The opportunity to see Gray-headed Albatross on their nests up close is one that few can hope for in a lifetime of travel. Black-browed Albatross also nest here, along with Macaroni, Gentoo and King penguins; we can expect to see Gentoos on nests in the saddle between Elsehul and south-facing Undine Harbour. This little sheltered cove sits on the northwestern extremity of South Georgia on the eastern side of the rugged Paryadin Peninsula, blocking southern ocean westerly winds with 400-meter walls built of ancient sedimentary rocks folded and stacked during the formation of the Andes.


Right Whale Bay: Fur seals are beginning to set up territories in Right Whale Bay at this time, a beach that in the height of the breeding season looks to be alive with a constant frenetic movement of seals. At the east end of this dramatic walled cove a colony of King Penguins resides, many loafing in front of a waterfall pouring out of the interior of the island.



Salisbury Plain: 60,000 pairs of King Penguins call this glacial plain home, making it a beloved site for any who explore South Georgia. Salisbury is located in the Bay of Isles, looking out on the Wandering Albatross breeding islands of Prion and Albatross. If you sit down quietly, you may find yourself the subject of King Penguin curiosity as one brave individual might try to see if your shoelaces will detach with a tug. King Penguins have a staggered breeding season, where each adult’s activities are dependent upon what they did the season before. Those that had no chick or an early fledging chick the previous season will be courting and mating, whereas those that did have a chick in the previous year may delay breeding. These early breeders have the best chances of successfully fledging a chick this year. Molting penguins can be found lining the fresh water streams that run from the glaciers to the sea. Hopefully snow will still be on the ground around the colony, a canvas of white upon which the penguins walk. The Kings share the beach with fur seals and elephant seals, and many a giant-petrel will be patrolling the shores for the penguins that did not make it through the winter.

Prion Island: An unforgettable experience will be on Prion Island in the Bay of Isles. Each pair of Wandering Albatross has a private estate with at least 30 square meters of open space around the nest site for courtship and takeoffs and landings, a real contrast with the King Penguin’s territory of less than one square meter. Here also nest the Southern Giant-Petrels, quietly incubating as long as you keep your distance. Tragically, the Wandering Albatross are declining rapidly in numbers, disappearing at sea due to illegal pirate fishing vessels mining ‘white gold’, as the Chilean Seabass or Patagonia Toothfish is sometimes called. We will stay on the boardwalk and tread very lightly during our visit to Prion Island in respect for the albatross and petrels and for the sake of the burrow-nesting birds that make their homes on this rat-free island. The charming South Georgia Pipit, the world’s southernmost passerine (perching bird), will look upon us curiously, singing a rare songbird’s tune. Our visit to Prion comes just before the young overwintering albatross fledge, to start years of seafaring life before finally returning here as young adults with hopes of breeding. 


Fortuna Bay: At this beautiful site in the lee of the central rib of South Georgia’s impressive mountains, we have good chances for clear skies and calm conditions. Fortuna Bay ends in an extended glacial alluvial plain covered with a fine grass upon which a beautifully photogenic King Penguin colony resides. King Penguins spread across what appears to be a lawn is a remarkable sight! We will search for nesting Light-mantled Albatross on the protected steep tussock slopes.

Shackleton Walk to Stromness: Shackleton, Crean, and Worsley were very near the end of their dramatic and perilous self-rescue when they stumbled down into Fortuna Bay from the interior of the island. They had just one short hike remaining, a westward walk of about three miles over to Stromness Harbour to reunite with civilization after over 17 months in the Antarctic. This very enjoyable historic walk will take us over a 300-meter ridge with a stunning view across the König Glacier and down to the now rusting inactive whaling station at Stromness to reunite with our ship.


Shackleton Crossing 2-3 day trek: This option requires sign-up before the expedition commences. A small group will follow in the footsteps of Shackleton, Crean, and Worsley in the final leg of their epic self-rescue from the sinking of the Endurance. For Shackleton, 100 years ago, the interior of South Georgia was utterly unknown. This special crossing will leave our ship in King Haakon Bay and travel over the mountainous spine of South Georgia for two to three days (depending on conditions) to Stromness to reunite with our ship. Himalayan mountaineer Tashi Tenzinga and one other Cheesemans’ expedition staff will guide the crossing. Cost is extra. See separate itinerary for details. Mountaineering experience is required.

Hercules Bay: Macaroni Penguins are the most numerous of any penguin on South Georgia yet the most difficult to visit. They have the habit of nesting on steep tussock slopes and are especially fond of inhospitably exposed beaches. We hope to be able to slip into Hercules Bay for a visit to see the striking Macaronis just as they are returning from eight months at sea. A waterfall drops down the back of Hercules Bay adding to the dramatic scene.

Grytviken and King Edward Point: Grytviken was one of the most active whaling stations in the history of whaling. But the flensing plan is now empty and the boilers silent. Over 60 years of whaling history is now well told in the excellent exhibits of the South Georgia Museum. Tim and Pauline Carr are largely responsible for what we see in the museum, the product of 14 years of a labor of love for them. The natural history exhibits are enriching, and after browsing and perhaps doing a little museum store shopping, take a short walk around the bay to visit the whaler’s graveyard where Shackleton and his right-hand man, Frank Wild, lie. The history of Antarctic exploration comes alive as we listen to tales of the adventures of Sir Ernest Shackleton. This famous explorer crossed the rugged backbone of South Georgia from the west to arrive at Stromness seeking help for his men stranded on Elephant Island. The crew of the Endurance, hand picked by Sir Ernest Shackleton in England for his 1914–1917 expedition, survived on the nutritious, though unappetizing, meat of penguins and seals while waiting for rescue on Elephant Island. Their ship, the Endurance, was crushed by ice in the Weddell Sea. Shackleton and his men had set off in small boats and landed at Elephant Island with hardly any landing room below the steep cliffs along the shore. From here, Shackleton and a handful of men continued in a small boat to South Georgia, returning to Elephant Island 105 days later to rescue the men. In the graveyard where Shackleton is buried, many young Southern Elephant Seals now snooze atop the whalers who no longer threaten them.


Godhul: Gentoo penguins are now the principal resident of this site where whaling once dominated. Beginning in 1908, whaling vessels anchored here leaving remains now of wooden platform boats called jolles and a beach thick with whalebones. Two waterfall fed small lakes sit on the gentle shoreline before jagged peaks rising into the island’s interior. We can expect the sky to ring with the reedy beautiful Light-mantled Albatross courtship calls as they sail in synchronized flight overhead. These subtly beautiful torpedo shaped birds favor nests in the steep tussock slopes above the inlet.


St. Andrews Bay: There are places in the world so far beyond description that any attempt rings hollow. St. Andrews Bay is such, with upwards of 150,000 pairs of King Penguins forming not a colony, but a landscape. You will be mesmerized as you view the many penguins walking along the beach and the gentle sloping landscape as you stroll from the landing site, the air filled with calls and life all around you. But as you walk over the glacial moraine bordering the north end of the colony, the mass of penguin calls hit you, all blended together into one vast wave. Here you will see the bounty of the rich, vast southern ocean. It must be seen, heard, and experienced to be believed.

At this time of year, King Penguins will be far from the only attraction at St. Andrews. The world’s largest seal, the Southern Elephant Seal, gathers here by the thousands creating one of the densest concentrations of life on the planet. We can expect to see thousands of females with young pups nursing. Many large male ‘beachmasters’ seek to own a stretch of beach and are willing to fight in great tonnages of seal jousting, because here lie their best hopes for breeding. The male elephant seal puts so much into his territorial defense that his life expectancy is less than half that of the female. But, if he is a successful beachmaster, this short life is one of great glory! We are very fortunate to be able to experience the elephant seal breeding season, usually long past when most travelers to South Georgia have the chance to visit. St. Andrews Bay also has a reputation for volatile weather as it lies at the foot of three glaciers. Cold air can pour off these glaciers turning a calm quiet morning into a howling harrowing landscape of katabatic winds in an astonishingly short time. So while here, do pay attention to our expedition leaders!


Gold Harbour: Simply, Gold Harbour is a glorious place, with something, indeed many things, for everybody who enjoys nature. This is one of the most protected sites in South Georgia, with great chances for clear blue skies. Fair or foul, under these skies we will find a beach at least as densely packed with Southern Elephant Seals as St. Andrews Bay (though a smaller beach, so fewer numbers overall), about 25,000 pairs of King Penguins, many of whom line a glacial meltwater river winding behind the beach, a Gentoo Penguin colony, steep but hikeable slopes with Light-mantled Albatross nesting on their flanks, and a tumbling icefall bordering the back of the Harbour making for stunning landscapes and the occasional explosion of glacial blocks tumbling down to the coast. More than a few will likely elect to skip lunch, unable to leave this wildlife rich scene.


Royal Bay: Several landing sites attract us to Royal Bay, though the exposed bay is very weather dependent. A growing King Penguin colony has topped 30,000 pairs at Brisbane Point in recent counts, with constant activity bouncing in upon the cobblestone beach boulders through what can be heavy surf. A fjord-like glacially carved valley empties into Moltke Harbour, a backdrop to as many as 1,000 elephant seals. If calm conditions prevail, we will enjoy landings here, but Royal Bay has a reputation for strong winds so we may find ourselves retreating for a return to Gold Harbour, a mighty fine compensation during rough conditions!


Cooper Bay: At Cooper Bay we will strive to get close to the marvelous Macaroni Penguins, the more southerly equivalent of the Rockhoppers, which nest at this accessible landing. A hike up through tussock slopes will reward us with Macaronis in a frenzy of early breeding season activity. Cooper Bay is also home to South Georgia’s only colony of Chinstrap Penguins. We are sure to see them traveling through the surf and will likely meet some on the beach or loafing on an iceberg. However, the Government of South Georgia has restricted access to the colony due to a 2004 outbreak of avian cholera, and the colony will probably still be closed to landings. Cooper Bay sits just inside from Cooper Island, a rat-free island that is extremely important breeding habitat for burrow-nesting seabirds and South Georgia Pipits. 


Drygalski Fjord and Larsen Harbour: Southern South Georgia differs strikingly in geology from the remainder of the island, and in the sheer walled Drygalski Fjord we can really see this difference. As we cruise up the fjord we can see granite, gabbro, and metamorphic rocks to starboard (ship’s right), remnant of the Gondwana continental margin. To port (ship’s left), the mountains are built of the ‘Larsen Harbour Complex’, uplifted ocean floor basalt and granite that rose in the formation of the Andes then was ripped and rafted east to its present location over the last 40 million years. The Risting Glacier calves frequently into the waters of the fjord, stirring up marine life that is quickly snapped up by Antarctic Terns and maybe a few pure white Snow Petrels. We may take a short zodiac trip up Larsen Harbour to check in on a small colony of Weddell Seals who are likely to have pups ashore with them. 

Cape Disappointment: Captain Cook was the first to lay eyes on South Georgia, and his great hope was that he had found the tip of a great southern continent. The name Cape Disappointment reflects his feelings when he found that South Georgia was no continent at all. He was none too impressed with South Georgia without apparent exploitable resources, but the Black-browed Albatross that breed in large numbers on the sheer slopes here never did mind his departure. They are less numerous now due to the impact of long-line fishing, but still impressive in number. If weather is favorable we may ship cruise to this southern extreme for a good look and a thorough exploration of this crown jewel of the great Southern Ocean. 

October 31 - November 1, Monday-Tuesday ~ Sail to the Falkland Islands

Sadly we will bid farewell to magnificent South Georgia as its last islets slip astern. But even as we leave, the wildlife opportunities are far from over. We may find whales and will certainly see many seals in the near-island waters. Now familiar seabirds will make fine companions for our travels far to the northwest. We will pay attention to ocean temperature with interest to see if the polar front has shifted during our stay on South Georgia. And we can take this chance to rest a bit after many long days in the field, catch up on reading, photo editing, and learning more about the unique Antarctic environment through an on-board lecture series.



November 2-4, Wednesday-Friday ~ Explore Falkland Islands

The Falkland Islands, approximately 300 miles east of South America and 700 miles north of Antarctica, have a temperate, but sometimes foggy climate. At this time of year, we hope to enjoy some of their rare Austral summer sunshine. Out of the 300 or more islands in the Falklands, we plan to land on three of the best for wildlife viewing and photography. On Sea Lion Island, Steeple Jason Island and New Island, highlights will be three species of penguins: Rockhoppers, Magellanics, and Gentoos. We may walk inland to seek out the Magellanics as well as land birds of the Falklands, species that are not to be found on South Georgia. We must pay close attention to staying out of the areas that contain fragile prion burrows and Southern Giant Petrels nests (especially abundant at New Island and Steeple Jason). All of these islands are privately owned and open to ecotourism on a very limited basis, putting wildlife conservation interests ahead of development.



Potential Landing Sites in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)


Sea Lion Island: Sea Lion Island is one of the smallest in the Falklands archipelago (just five miles long and just over one mile wide at its widest point), and the most southerly-inhabited island. The sheer abundance of wildlife in such a small area makes it a must on any Falklands itinerary. Sea Lion Island hosts over 47 species of bird, including Rockhopper, Gentoo, and Magellanic penguins; we will be graced by some of the 2,800 breeding pairs of Gentoo Penguins returning to breed at the beginning of the season, and scatterings of Southern Giant-Petrels on their nests. Please give giant-petrels a wide berth, they can be very nervous and abandon their nests with minimal disturbance. Other birds we may encounter are South American Snipe, Rufous-chested Dotterel, the endemic Cobb’s and Sedge wrens, small birds that have recently been afforded protection from the tall grass that has been allowed to grow after the removal of sheep from the island. However perhaps by far the biggest attraction is the large number of Southern Elephant Seals that breed here, principally on the white sandy beach at the appropriately named Elephant Corner. Also not to be missed are the South American (or Southern) Sea Lions at East Loafers. Pods of Orcas are also often seen circling close offshore (usually a treat for the early risers) attracted by the prospect of penguins and seals. The proximity of much of this wildlife to the lodge and the easy walking terrain makes it a great destination for families or those less agile.

Award-winning, world renowned photographers have adorned books and magazines with their prize-winning shots of the wildlife on Sea Lion Island, but even with the most basic equipment you can take away images to treasure.


Steeple Jason Island: This Island is the outermost northwest island, now a reserve owned by Wildlife Conservation Society. Albatross are the main attraction, their nests thickly wrapping around the base of the striking island. More Black-browed Albatross nest here than anywhere else on earth, at least a quarter million birds! From a distance, the immense colony on the lower shores of Steeple looks like freshly fallen snow. As we approach, we’ll see thousands of birds circling in the air and rafting on the water like tiny icebergs. Once ashore, the vast albatross colony is found after maneuvering through the tall, wispy tussock grass. Steeple Jason is one of our planet’s rare hidden gems, seldom visited because it is remote and landing is difficult, yet we have successfully landed on every expedition in our two decades of excursions.


New Island: We will find New Island rich with wildlife immediately upon landing, greeted by fascinating Flightless Steamer-Ducks, Ruddy-headed Goose, caracaras, shorebirds, and passerines such as Blackish Cinclodes, Dark-faced Ground-Tyrant, Long-tailed Meadowlark, and White-bridled Finch. We will have amazing views of Black-browed Albatross courting atop their conical mud nests along the cliffs. South American Fur Seal may be seen, although their numbers have been declining rapidly. Other highlights include both Peale’s and Commerson’s dolphins that occasionally bow ride with the ship or even alongside the Zodiacs going from ship to shore and back.



November 5, Saturday ~ Sail to Ushuaia, Argentina

One last, short ocean crossing remains where avid seafarers will be on the bridge and stern to spot whales, dolphins, and seabirds, especially Southern and Northern Royal albatross. Sheltered from the circumpolar current by the bulk of South America, this passage is usually fairly calm. We will celebrate a farewell captain’s dinner during our last evening and recap the magnificent experiences of the voyage with a group show of images.

November 6, Sunday ~ Disembark in Ushuaia and flights homeward

In the early morning, we will dock in Ushuaia where we will be reluctant to say good-by to our spirited shipmates! After an early breakfast and clearing customs, we’ll disembark the ship about 8:00 am and connect with our flights home or to other points. Our local agents in Ushuaia will collect luggage and put it in the luggage van to be held until check-in time at the Ushuaia Airport. For homeward flights, fly by early afternoon from Ushuaia, arriving at the international airport in Buenos Aires or Santiago to connect to evening flights homeward.


November 7, Monday ~ Arrive home

Arrive home today, depending on your flight schedule. If you wish to stay on for a time in South America, we can help you with arrangements.



Trip Map 


Map Route Ortelius October 2015



Costs and Cabin Options - 10% off new reservations.


We reserve the right to charge for cost increases that occur between when we set tour prices and the date of travel, for example, changes due to the cost of lodging and transportation. If you are a single traveler and you desire, we will find a roommate for you. If we cannot find you a roommate, we may charge you a single supplement fee on land-based tours but not on ship-based tours.


Please note that we cannot guarantee a specific cabin number. If changes occur, we will do everything in our power to assign a cabin of equal or greater value as the cabin type specified in your reservation. Deck plan, cabin arrangements, and cabin amenities are subject to change by ship operator. If space is available, some cabins can be booked for a single occupant by adding 40% over the listed cabin cost. If you are willing to have a roommate assigned to your cabin, we will not charge you a single supplement fee. All cabins are suites and feature an en-suite bathroom, lounge area, ample storage, vanity set, mini-refrigerator, and TV with DVD player. Most cabins can accommodate either one king-sized bed or two twin-sized beds; we will arrange one king-sized bed for couples unless requested otherwise. For safety reasons, all cabin windows are fixed shut and do not open.


Cabin type  

Description1, 2 (see deck plan on last page) 

Cost per person3 

Main Deck

(Main Deck 2) 

Double occupancy, one king-sized or two twin-sized beds, two portholes 



(Ocean Deck 3) 

Double occupancy, one king-sized or two twin-sized beds, picture window 



(Ocean Deck 3)

Triple occupancy, one king-sized or two twin-sized beds plus one twin-sized sofa bed, picture window



(Club Deck 4) 

Double occupancy, one king-sized or two twin-sized beds, picture window 



(Sports Deck 5)

Double occupancy, one king-sized or two twin-sized beds, private balcony



(Sun Deck 6)

Double occupancy, one king-sized or two twin-sized beds, private balcony



(Sun Deck 6)

Double occupancy, one king-sized bed plus sofa bed, private deck, living room, game/meeting area, jetted bathtub, BOSE stereo system



Payment Schedule 

Payments will be due based on the following schedule. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space. For reservations made after a due date, all past payments will be due with registration.


Payment Schedule


Due Date

Amount per Person

Initial deposit

With registration, to reserve your space



February 1, 2015



December 1, 2015



May 1, 2016

Remaining balance


Cancellation Policy 

Refunds are given depending on the time left before departure according to the following table. The cancellation fee of $300 per person can be applied toward another tour if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. Consider purchasing trip cancellation insurance that could reimburse your trip costs in the event of your cancellation.


Days until Departure

On October 20, 2016


Refund Amount

180 or more

On or before April 23, 2016

$300 withheld*

179 – 150

April 24 to May 23, 2016

10% of tour cost withheld

149 – 120

May 24 to June 22, 2016

40% of tour cost withheld

119 or less

On or after June 23, 2016

No refund possible

* This $300 cancellation fee may go toward another tour if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date.



  • Lodging in Santiago on October 21.
  • Santiago city tour on October 22 (optional).
  • Fifteen nights aboard the Sea Spirit.
  • All meals beginning with breakfast on October 22 through lunch on November 6.
  • All landing fees, passenger fees and port taxes, including landing fees of approximately £157.50 for South Georgia and per-island fees in the Falklands.
  • Airport transfers in Santiago on October 21, Stanley on October 22, and Ushuaia on November 6. Airport transfers not listed may be arranged, possibly at an additional cost.
  • Gratuities for the ship’s crew. No gratuity will be expected of participants; budget extra if you would like to tip crew or expedition staff. 
  • Waterproof shell jacket for you to keep. 
  • Rubber boots on loan while on board. 
  • Printed expedition log booklet with daily accounts and photographs from our journey.
  • Emergency medical and evacuation insurance.
  • Trip Materials - information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc.

Not Included

  • All airfare, airport and departure taxes, excess baggage fees. Airfare is approximately $2,500 between the USA and Stanley, Falkland Islands, returning from Ushuaia, Argentina, depending on departure point (estimated July 2015).
  • Any airport transfers, if needed, between airports such as in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • Reciprocity fees. Canadian and Australian passport holders are required to pay a reciprocity fee to Chile, and American, Canadian, and Australian passport holders are required to pay a reciprocity fee to Argentina. Details will be provided in our Trip Materials.
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, fax/phone/email charges, medical costs or hospitalization, room service, alcoholic and other beverages, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your Reservation/Release Form.
  • Trip cancellation insurance.



Our Ship 


MV Sea Spirit, our base for an epic journey to South Georgia & the Falklands


The Sea Spirit is an "all suite" luxury vessel built for sailing in ice with an ice-strengthened hull and retractable fin stabilizers. All cabins have a private, en-suite bathroom, a lounge area, ample storage, and a television with DVD player, plus unobstructed exterior views via portholes, picture windows, or a private balcony. The ship is outfitted with a presentation room for on-board lectures, Internet access, a gym, library, game room, lounge, bar with bartender, and dining lounge with chef-prepared meals.


The Sea Spirit carries a fleet of ten Zodiacs for our excursions, driven by our own experienced leaders. Located at the rear of the ship, the Zodiac loading area provides a safe and relatively sheltered place from which to embark on our adventures. See the deck plan on the last page and visit our website for more ship information and photos. Click here.




Our Expedition Staff 


Escorted by Enrique Couve, Far South Expeditions Founder

Enrique Couve, Far South Expeditions Tour Leaders and GuidesEnrique is an Industrial Engineer by profession, although a field naturalist by true passion. One of the two founders and original driving forces behind the Far South Expeditions concept and company, he has been birding and studying the natural history of Chile for more than 45 years.

He is co-author of more than 20 publications on the natural heritage of Chile and Patagonia, and among his published works is the praised 'Birds of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego and Antarctic Peninsula'. Enrique is a very gifted field spotter, and he uses this skill on his nature photography work, as he has one of the most complete and extensive files on the flora and fauna of the country.

Enrique has extensively travelled throughout Chile and South America, its oceanic islands and Antarctica. He is the main author of an upcoming and long-awaited Field Guide to the Birds of Chile, now in its final completing stages. He is a skilled puma tracker and a pioneer of puma trips in Patagonia.

He is founding partner and manager of Far South Expeditions and lives in Punta Arenas with his wife Cecilia.


Additional staff will be listed to total 14; expedition staff may change 

Hugh Rose ~ Expedition Leader, Naturalist, Geologist, Photographer, Lecturer, and Zodiac Driver

Hugh brings to this expedition over 20 years of professional guiding experience in Antarctica and Alaska and has been a key member of our Antarctica staff since 1998. After a decade as a field geologist, Hugh changed course finding his calling as a naturalist, tour leader, and freelance photographer. The vast landscapes and incredible wildlife of the polar regions are his subject and passion, evident in his inspired expedition leadership and stunning photos as exhibited on www.hughrosephotography.com. Hugh also leads our three Alaskan tours and receives unending praise for his amazing knowledge, delightful and accommodating personality, and attention to every trip detail. Hugh brings his expertise in geology to explain and discuss the many geological features encountered during the expedition, such as the rocks in Drygalski Fjord.


Doug Cheeseman ~ Lecturer and Zodiac Driver

After finding a lack of true in-depth nature and educational travel experiences, Doug and Gail Cheeseman filled that void by starting Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris over 35 years ago. Now Doug uses his expertise gained during 35 years of teaching ecology and zoology at De Anza College to offer travelers a unique learning experience in wildlife-rich regions of the world. Together with Gail, he has led safaris to all remote corners of the world, from over 70 safaris in Africa to 15 expeditions to the Antarctic regions and all areas in between such as the Arctic, South America, Asia, and Australia. Doug’s specialty is finding distinctive wildlife hotspots around the world and the best local experts in each region, then combining them into an exclusive tour. A love of photographing wildlife behavior and giving college-level lectures to interested groups adds to his accomplishments. Join Doug and Gail as they lead the safari of your lifetime.

Gail Cheeseman ~ Naturalist and Trip Coordinator

Gail is a naturalist of the best kind – self-taught through a lifetime in the field fueled by a deep passion for all wildlife. Her attention to tour details and individual desires ensures that each Cheesemans’ traveler has the experience of their dreams. East Africa is her top favorite region where Gail and Doug led over 70 safaris, with the Antarctic and Arctic a close second, followed by bird-rich areas such as South America and Asia. Gail has a true spirit for conservation that drives her actions on many environmental issues, both local and worldwide. Together, Gail and Doug make a team of remarkable ecologists who seek to inspire others to enjoy and conserve the Earth’s wild landscapes.


Scott Davis ~ Naturalist, Photographer, and Zodiac Driver

Scott is a wildlife researcher, eco-guide, and professional photographer specializing in wildlife, travel, and editorial imagery. Originally trained as a wildlife and marine biologist, his research and photo assignments have taken him to the far corners of the globe. Scott is a National Geographic Society Grant recipient and has co-authored and published several peer reviewed scientific articles investigating aspects of animal behavior. His photographic work has appeared in many famous commercial websites, stock catalogues, Federal reports, and prominent national magazines and newspapers. His easy-going style coupled with a passion for all things photography and a great satisfaction sharing his unique experience and knowledge with others engages all around him. Scott will conduct a series of photography workshops and seminars aboard and in the field, making this expedition an unparalleled opportunity to improve your photographic techniques and capture the best images of your life.


Professor Rob Dunbar ~ Scientific Lecturer and Zodiac Driver

Rob is a professor of Earth Sciences and the Director of the Earth Systems Program at Stanford University. Rob received a BS in Geology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1975 and a PhD from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 1981. He was a Professor at Rice University in Houston, TX, before moving to Stanford to set up a new teaching and research program in the marine sciences. His research focuses on oceanography as well as global climate change and impacts, and environmental policy and communications. He and his students have traveled to Antarctica over 30 times to study the impacts of climate change on both modern Antarctica and the past Southern Ocean. Rob has an active exploration program in the deep sea and regularly dives to the seafloor throughout the Pacific in three-man submersibles, wherein he studies the world's oldest known organisms. He has authored or co-authored over 170 peer-reviewed scientific papers and strongly believes in teaching in the field, both at sea and "on-the-ice." He is also an avid polar and mountain explorer and photographer.


Dr. Tom Hart ~ Penguinologist

Tom runs the Penguin Lifelines project () at the University of Oxford, which aims to significantly increase the level of monitoring around the Southern Ocean to more effectively manage fisheries and protected areas so that they do not negatively impact seabirds. Tom spends much of his time developing tools and techniques to increase our understanding of many important and data-deficient environments, especially in the Antarctic and Subantarctic, to understand effects of global change and to permit effective management. He is involved with SnowBank, a repository for polar samples aiming to reduce the cost of polar research, and he is examining the population genetics of penguins to see how the populations are structured as well as how changing ice conditions have altered the population structure. He is also leading efforts to develop cameras to monitor penguin populations in remote, hostile environments.


Janine Niebrugge ~ Lecturer and Zodiac Driver

When Janine is not helping husband, Ron with their photography business she enjoys guiding nature hikes in her hometown of Seward, Alaska. Originally from southern California, Janine moved to Alaska in 1991 with her husband Ron. They quickly set up residency in the scenic seaside town of Seward, where they have lived ever since. With Kenai Fjords National Park and Chugach National Forest literally in my backyard it is easy to pursue my passions of trail running, kayaking, SUP’ing, hiking and mountain biking.

Ron Niebrugge ~ Professional Photographer, Lecturer, and Zodiac Driver

Ron finds the ordinary and mixes it with beautiful natural light to create the extraordinary in his inspiring photography. His images have caught the attention of many including impressive clients such as National Geographic, Smithsonian, National Park Service, and lots more advertising agencies. When not shooting stock photos, Ron keeps busy leading many photo tours and traveling on assignment in Alaska. He has lived in and explored all aspects of nature in Alaska since the age of twelve and has now settled in Seward, the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park.

Edward Rooks ~ Professional Wildlife Artist, Naturalist, Lecturer, and Zodiac Driver

Edward excels in helping you uncover your unknown artistic talent if you choose to join his workshops. A naturalist par excellence with an artist's eye, he teaches drawing workshops both during days at sea and onshore. Ed is a charismatic native Trinidadian who leads wonderful wildlife tours to Trinidad and Tobago and has been on our Antarctica staff for many years. His work can be seen at www.rooksart.com. He spends many hours during the time at sea when not teaching his drawing workshop up on the bridge spotting and identifying both marine mammal and seabirds. He is very quick to spot and get photos of elusive marine mammals from the bridge that might suddenly appear, such as a rare beaked whale or brief view of a pod of dolphins.

Tashi Tenzing ~ Mountaineer, Guide, and Lecturer

Tashi is a Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer, the grandson of Tenzing Norgay who made the first ascent of Mount Everest in 1953. Tashi grew up in Darjeeling, received a degree from the University of New Delhi, and established a very successful trekking company, Tenzing Asian Holidays (www.tenzingasianholidays.com). He successfully climbed Mount Everest in May 2007 from the Tibetan side and has guided climbing trips in Antarctica. He now lives in Kathmandu. Tashi will be Head Guide on the “Shackleton Crossing” trek offered as an option on this in-depth South Georgia expedition.



Other Details 



In the Falklands, daytime temperatures are generally 40 to 50°F (10 to 15°C), while in South Georgia the temperatures range from 32 to 50°F (0 to 10°C). Wet, penetrating cold is not usually a problem, but you will need to protect against wind and splash, especially when riding in the Zodiacs. Mittens, warm cap, layers of light, loose, warm clothing, a parka and waterproof outer garments are necessary. 

Fitness Level

You must be in fit enough condition to get up and down the gangway hanging on the side of the ship and in and out of the Zodiacs that may be in some sea surf. If conditions are too difficult for you, you may be required to stay aboard the ship. Expedition staff and crew will assist on the ship’s gangway and at each landing. Once on shore, you can walk for short or long distances (within the specified guidelines); it is up to you. Landing details will be given in advance of each landing.


Flight Information

Airfare is not included in trip costs. Detailed flight information and the contact information for our recommended flight ticketing agent is included in the Trip Materials we will send after you sign up; if you need help, she can help you arrange your flights. Additional information including details of flight routes to Stanley, Falkland Islands and returns from Ushuaia, Argentina, group fare possibilities, and trip extensions will be sent after registration. If you prefer to extend your trip at either end, we can assist with extra hotel nights in Santiago or Ushuaia and arrange or suggest trip extensions.


Flights you (or a travel agent) book: 

Arrival – Arrive in Santiago, Chile (SCL) by October 21. Continue to Stanley, Falkland Islands (MPN) via Punta Arenas, Chile on October 22 on a once-weekly LAN flight.

Departure – You may depart from Ushuaia (USH), Argentina any time after 9:00 am on November 6. 



Don’t let a fear of seasickness scare you away! Over the years many who have dreamed of experiencing Antarctica with us have stayed home for fear of seasickness, but of all those who have joined, we know of only one passenger who said that seasickness really affected the enjoyment of the trip. Still, that same passenger talked about repeating the trip, because the rest of the experiences more than made up for it. For all but the most sensitive, motion sickness is only a problem during the two open ocean passages. This is a total of approximately four days and five nights. The passage from the Falkland Islands to Ushuaia is usually fairly smooth because we remain on the continental shelf. Days and nights when we are landing or cruising between landings are quite calm because we are close to land. The Sea Spirit has an excellent stabilizing system. The Southern Ocean has a reputation for the worst seas in the world, not because conditions are always rough (on the average day, the seas are actually quite calm) but because the extremes are large. If we are hit by a storm during a crossing, the experience will be memorable. For this reason, unless you know you are immovable by the heavy seas, bring a good supply of medication. Many of our frequent travelers are quite susceptible to seasickness, yet they come back year after year because they love Antarctica!


  • Non-smoking policy: We have a strict non-smoking policy. Smoking is not permitted at any time or any place during our tours.
  • Maximum time in the field: We try to spend as much time in the field as possible, sometimes resulting in long days but giving you a more in-depth experience.
  • Itinerary route: The itinerary route, stops and plans are subject to change by unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, such as weather or road conditions.
  • Additional forms: For some of our tours, you may be asked to fill out additional forms (e.g., medical questionnaire).
  • Medical conditions and travel risks: Travel to remote places is exciting, but it is important to understand and accept the risks, both medical and logistical. Minor medical problems can usually be treated, but due to the fact that we often travel to locations far from medical facilities, there can be no expectation for immediate medical treatment or evacuation, even in cases of trauma. Anyone with health problems needing close medical supervision should not consider going on this trip. Bring enough medication for the duration of the trip for any chronic medical needs, since pharmacies are usually not available. When you send your tour deposit and signed reservation form, you certify to us that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions that would create a risk for yourself or for other trip participants.



Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris is passionate about conserving the precious regions to which we travel and we have supported many conservation efforts over the years. By visiting these areas, we contribute to sustainable conservation of these valuable wildlife habitats. We urge you to support conservation organizations that protect and restore natural habitats and write letters to tourism and government agencies to promote work in preserving wildlife. We aim to make all our trips carbon neutral by splitting the cost of carbon offsetting with our participants. For your convenience, the optional donation amount for your half of the carbon offset will be indicated on your invoice. We source high quality offsets through CarbonTree Conservation Fund, a non-profit we helped found, supporting pioneering forest conservation in the Valdivian Coastal Reserve, a Nature Conservancy project ( http://bit.ly/valdivia_tnc).



Far South Expeditions, Punta Arenas, Chile & Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris, Saratoga, California  act only as agents and shall not be responsible or become liable for any delay incurred by any person in connection with any means of transportation, nor for the loss, damage, or injury to person or property by reason of any event beyond the control of the agency or default of such agency suppliers. We reserve the right to cancel the tour prior to departure in which case full refund will constitute full settlement to the passenger. No refund will be made for any unused portion of the tour unless arrangements are made at the time of booking. All rates are based on current tariffs and exchange rates and are subject to adjustment in the event of any change therein. By sending your initial deposit, you agree to accept our payment schedule as a contract. If payments are still outstanding two weeks after the due date, your space may be forfeited. Baggage is at the owner’s risk.

Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris is registered as California Seller of Travel #2063050-40. Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California. Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris is a participant in the Travel Consumer Restitution Corporation (TCRC). In event of a client canceling where a refund is applicable in accordance with the schedule above, or in the event that CES needs to cancel the trip, all payments for transportation or travel service not provided to the client shall be promptly refunded, unless the client instructs us otherwise in writing. All client payments are deposited into a trust account in accordance with California law. If for any reason a valid refund is not forthcoming, the client may request reimbursement from the TCRC within six months of the scheduled end of the tour. Please feel free to ask us for more information.



Photo Gallery 


Check out our photo gallery with images from recent wildlife expeditions to South Georgia, the Jewel of the Antarctic.