When you hear the word “penguins”, your mind might jump straight to Antarctica and its snow-covered mountains and valleys. However, several penguin species disagree with that assumption! They prefer a milder climate and believe there is nothing wrong with laying eggs in tussac grass or muddy ground rather than rocks and snow. Who could these unconventional rebels be? Of course, we mean the king penguins, and given the name, they are rightfully entitled to their opinion. Indeed, these species inhabit the subantarctic islands – the Falklands and South Georgia – rather than the continent of Antarctica.
You’re also likely to find other species of penguins here that aren’t as prevalent at the Antarctic Peninsula: Rockhopper, Magellanic, and Macaroni. And we believe their destination choice is something you should definitely consider when planning your dream trip to Antarctica.
Seeing king penguins is not the only reason to opt for an Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falklands cruise. Here are some other solid arguments:
1. To get to Antarctica, you’ve already made it to the end of the world
Most expedition cruises to Antarctica start in Ushuaia, the southernmost city of Argentina. To get there, you would have to take a minimum of two flights: an international and an internal one. Depending on where you’re located, the trip could take you more than 24 hours and a couple of stops and transfers, sometimes with an overnight. Thus, getting to the port from where you will depart to Antarctica is already an adventure in itself.
If you’ve already traveled this far, you might as well want to experience it all. In other words, it’s worthwhile to get a long vacation and enjoy the world of Antarctica and subantarctic islands in full.
2. What are the odds you will take a journey this long twice?
Most travelers fall in love with Antarctica and expedition cruising itself, and a classic Peninsula trip just makes them want to return and explore the islands of the Southern & Atlantic Oceans in depth. It takes a lot of time and effort to get here, so time- and budget-wise, you might want to consider checking it off your bucket list on the first go!
The longer expedition cruise including the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica has just ten additional days in the itinerary, which is not that big of a stretch. But this adventure is worth going the extra mile – not only will you have new memories and experiences, but a life-changing perspective on the world as well. Following in the footsteps of Shackleton at Grytviken, visiting whaling and research stations, seeing thousands of penguins at once, kayaking with whales and camping under the stars of Antarctica – a cruise like this is a journey that stays with you forever. Of course, we’re always happy to welcome you back should you opt for the shorter cruise to the Peninsula!
3. Do not miss out on the abundance of subantarctic wildlife
The voyage from Argentina to the islands of South Georgia and the Falklands takes about two-to-three sea days by expedition ship. The first thing you’ll notice about the region is the striking abundance and concentration of wildlife. Beaches are packed with elephant seals fighting over territory and dominance. King penguins come to the water for food and return to their nesting sites deeper inside the islands. Rockhoppers and black-browed albatrosses occupy rookeries on cliffs, trying to make peace with the shared living arrangements. Fur seals are cheekily hiding in the tussac grass.
This subantarctic experience will bring what you see in Antarctica to a new level and provide an interesting contrast with the wildlife on the continent. If you are a wildlife fan, this is a dream trip for you. And if you are not, well, this voyage might make you into one!
4. Visit one of the few places in the world where elephant seals and albatrosses live
We’ve already mentioned elephant seals, but these gigantic pinnipeds deserve a separate introduction. They are sometimes called the “beachmasters” of South Georgia. During the peak of their mating season, in late October and November, they turn the shores into bullfighting arenas. The shocking but impressive dominance battles can get so tense that a landing at the site is occasionally impossible. A Zodiac cruise gives cruise passengers front row seats for the spectacle while keeping a safe distance.
The Falklands and South Georgia are also home to several albatross species, with wandering, grey-headed and black-browed albatross being the most prominent and common in these places. Poets and sailors have admired these graceful birds for centuries, finding inspiration in their effortless sky voyages. Seeing them in action from the ship’s open deck or admiring their nests where chicks are being brought up is an incredible experience. It gives you a feeling that you become a part of something larger than the world and brings an overwhelming harmony to your being.
5. Get an audience with thousands of “kings”
The quantity of animals on South Georgia is just as striking as the variety – you’ll see hundreds of thousands of king penguins in rookeries spreading over the horizon. Naturally, these species of penguins are one of the main attractions of the destination. Notwithstanding the fact that kings are so majestic and colorful, they give birth to surprisingly clumsy and round fluffy brown chicks. Now you understand why early Antarctic explorers considered them to be a different species of penguins! It seems that royalty grows on them when their fluff and drab coloring goes away.
Squeezing all of the highlights of