The South Shetland Islands are a haven for wildlife. Vast penguin rockeries, beaches ruled by Antarctic fur and Southern elephant seals make every day spent in this spectacular island group unforgettable. Sailing through the narrow passage into the flooded caldera of Deception Island is an amazing experience. King George Island, the largest of the South Shetland Islands features colonies of nesting Adélie and chinstrap penguins, kelp gulls, blue-eyed cormorants, Antarctic terns and Southern giant petrels. It is also home to the scientific bases of many countries. Later we plan to visit Livingston Island where macaroni, chinstrap and gentoo penguins as well as elephant seals can all be found. There will be plenty of time to explore the pristine wilderness of snow, ice, mountains and waterways and its incredible variety of wildlife. We are also likely to see Weddell, crabeater and leopard seals as well as minke, killer (orca) and humpback whales at close range.
Depending on weather and ice conditions, we hope to navigate some of the most beautiful waterways including the Gerlache Strait, the Neumayer Channel and the Lemaire Channel. The latter are narrow passages between towering rock faces and spectacular glaciers. We plan to make at least two landings a day including Paradise Bay, perhaps the most aptly named place in the world and a landing on the continent itself. After negotiating the iceberg-strewn waters of the Antarctic Sound, we hope to visit the bustling Adélie penguin (over 100,000 pairs breed here) and blue-eyed cormorant colonies on Paulet Island. The Nordenskjöld expedition built a stone survival hut here in 1903. Today its ruins have been taken over by nesting penguins.
Further exploration may take us to Melchior Island, Cuverville Island, Portal Point, Neko Harbour, Pléneau Island and if ice conditions permit, to Petermann Island for a visit to the southernmost colony of gentoo penguins.