Antarctica, South Georgia, Falkland Islands

Discussion in 'Special Sessions, Events, and Tour Announcements' started by bobhoge, May 13, 2005.

  1. It is difficult to imagine a trip more interesting than this one:

    LOCATION: Antarctica, South Georgia, Falkland Islands

    PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES: Penguins, Seals, Albatross, Petrels, Glaciers, Icebergs

    WHERE TO STAY: Shipboard – Lindblad Expeditions’ National Geographic Endeavour www.expeditions.com

    BEST TIME TO GO: Mid November through February.

    DETAILS:
    The seed was planted in 1992; we were on Lindblad’s Sea Lion in Baja California. I know we had never met anyone who had been to Antarctica. There were only 60 passengers and Nan & I were probably the youngest couple on board. One evening we were having dinner at a table for 8, suddenly we found ourselves the only two of the eight who had NOT been there. One couple had even been twice!
    It took 11 years for the seed to mature. In 1997 Lindblad got a ship that could handle the ice and we started to meet more folks who had been to Antarctica. Unfortunately our situation did not allow us to get away in the winter months. In 2003 we were just able to make the first trip of the season.
    About twice a year they make a longer trip that includes the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. We didn’t know much about these islands, but this was part of that trip.

    Everyone we talked with rated Antarctica as a “10”. They were low; it’s at least an 11 maybe 12!!
    The Falklands are a 9+.
    And then there is South Georgia… I don’t have words to explain South Georgia. Our photos help, but not enough. On the 1-10 scale it is 15 or maybe 20!! It is not the variety of wildlife; it is the quantity that is amazing.
    13737604-L.
    Let me have you click on a link to a superb photo taken by Celeste Walz while she was in South Georgia in February 2005. (We met her on another Lindblad trip.) It is a six shot panorama that might help here:
    http://www.lesstraveled.com/TripLog/Antarctica/Penquin Panoramic.htm
    These are King Penguins that stand about 24-30 inches tall, turkey vulture to eagle height! There are maybe 300,000 nesting PAIRS in her photo.

    SOUTH GEORGIA is about 90 miles long and up to 20 miles wide. Almost all are rugged, glacier-encrusted mountains. There are about 10 bays where all the wildlife gathers. Let’s try 6,000,000 penguins (King, Macaroni, Gentoo) and 55,000,000 flying birds (Albatross. Petrel, Shag, Tern). Mixed in with the birds are numerous Elephant Seals and Fur Seals. This is said to be the highest concentration of wildlife anywhere in the world. Year round human population is two, seasonal maybe 100 (? Not there yet in November when we were)
    Some vegetation, mostly tussock grass

    ANTARCTICA is colder than South Georgia. The wildlife here includes penguins (Gentoo, Adele, Chinstrap, and rarely Emperor)
    Flying birds (Albatross, Petrel, Shag, Tern, Skua)
    Seals (Weddell, Leopard, Crabeater)
    No permanent population, just researchers
    No vegetation, some lichen

    THE FALKLAND ISLANDS are warmer and greener, some bushes, but no trees. It looks a lot like northern Scotland if you have been there.
    Wildlife includes penguin (Rockhopper and Magellanic) flying birds (Albatross, Shag, Caracara)
    Population about 4,000 half living in Port Stanley with the rest scattered in the many islands, many ranching sheep.

    I’ll put most of the photos in Birds/Animals and Landscapes and link from here.
    South Georgia:
    https://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?t=48091
    https://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?t=48093
    https://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?t=48096
    Antarctica:
    https://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?t=48097
    https://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?t=48100
    https://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?t=48102
    https://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?t=48103
    https://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?t=48104
    Birds at Sea:
    https://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?t=48128
    Falkland Islands:
    https://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?t=48131
    https://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?t=48133
    https://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?t=48136

    It is not an easy trip, but not as hard as you might imagine. The lowest temperature was about 25F (-4C) sometimes with potential high wind. You are ashore for no longer than 2.5 to 3 hours. If you are able to climb two or three flights of stairs, you should be able to do any of the walks. Good health is a must; you are a long way from the nearest hospital.
    On our trip at least 4 of the 100 passengers were in their 80’s. One fellow was 85 and on his 15th trip to Antarctica since 1988. Another guy said he was 87. There was one couple who looked to be possibly even older.
    The Falklands, South Georgia and The Antarctic Peninsula make up a triangle with sides about 800 miles long so you have 6 days “at sea” (4 days if you just go tip of South America to Antarctica). The seas can be very rough. We were very lucky and only had it bad for about ½ day. Plan on all rough and then any calm day is a bonus. Watch out for the Russian Icebreaker ships. I understand they are shallow draft to ride up on the ice and break through, but really wallow in heavy seas. Lindblad’s Endeavour is deep draft and rolls less, but is heavy built to handle lighter ice conditions.

    You need to stay 15 feet from the nests of the penguins and birds, but you don’t need really long lenses. The 70-300ED was enough length for almost any shot. Albatross and Petrel off the stern of the ship might be best with the 300 AFS with the 1.4TC or the 80-400VR, but the 70-300ED did OK.

    We were on the first trip of the season. We saw lots of pair bonding, nest building, mating, and snow. Celeste went on the last trip of the season and saw more penguin chicks, feeding, and less snow than we did. For comparison her photos are at: http://www.lesstraveled.com/TripLog/Antarctica/The Trip/Antarctica Home.htm

    The trip is quite expensive; the only known advantage is that I could include a D-100, 2 new lenses, extra batteries and CF cards under incidental expenses!

    If you have questions ask here, or use the message form at the top of the page.

    Nan wants to go again, me too!
    Bob & Nan

    Our Antarctica photos are posted at:
    http://bob-nan.smugmug.com/Antarctica 2003
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  2. Ron Anderson

    Ron Anderson Guest

    This is a wonderful report. Thank you very much for this.

    Ron
     
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