Ushuaia – Ascension Island – Praia, Cape Verdes
Ushuaia – Ascension Island
Day 1: Ushuaia (March 19) - Ushuaia - In the afternoon, we embark in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world located at the Beagle Channel and sail through this scenic waterway for the rest of the evening.
Days 2 & 3: At sea - During these two days we sail across the Drake Passage. When we cross the Antarctic Convergence, we arrive in the circum-Antarctic up welling zone. In this area we may see Wandering Albatrosses, Grey Headed Albatrosses, Black- browed Albatrosses, Light- mantled Sooty Albatrosses, Cape Pigeons, Southern Fulmars, Wilson’s Storm Petrels, Blue Petrels and Antarctic Petrels. Near the South Shetland Islands, we spot our first icebergs.
Day 4: Deception Island - At Deception Island, we will try to land at Baily Head home to a colony of ten thousands Chinstrap Penguins (please note this landing is not always guaranteed and is only possible in good weather conditions). Good walkers may hike from Baily Head over the ridge of the crater into Whalers Bay, while our ship braves its entrance into the crater through the spectacular Neptune’s Bellow into the ring of Deception Island. Deception itself is a sub-ducted crater, which opens into the sea, creating a natural harbour for the ship. Here we find hot springs, an abandoned whaling station, many Dominican Gulls, Brown Skuas and Antarctic Terns. Wilson’s Storm Petrels and Black-bellied Storm Petrels nest in the ruins of the whaling station in Whalers Bay.
Day 5: Antarctica – continental landing - If the sea ice conditions allow we will try and reach Hope Bay or Brown Bluff at the Northern tip of the Antarctic Continent. In this area chances are good for encounters with Adelie Penguins, Weddell Seals, Leopard Seals and Orcas.
Day 6: Paulet Island - If ice conditions allow, we will sail to Paulet Island where we will observe the last individuals of a large Adelie Penguin colony near the ruins of the Nordenskjöld Expedition from the beginning of the 20th century. Depending on the sea ice we sail east or west of the Danger Islands to the north.
Day 7: At sea - We will sail towards the South Orkney Islands. Our exact navigational course will be determined by the prevailing ice conditions, in terms of both extent of sea ice and density of icebergs, which vary from year to year.
Day 8: South Orkney Islands - We are planning on a visit to Orcadas station, an Argentinean base located in the South Orkney Islands. The friendly base personnel will show us their facilities and we can enjoy the wonderful views of the surrounding glaciers.
Day 9: At sea - On our way to South Georgia, we witness a multitude of Albatrosses, Petrels and Fulmars.
Days 10 – 12: South Georgia - In South Georgia we begin our visit with zodiac excursions in the magnificent Drygalski Fjord and Larsen Harbour. In Cooper Bay we will observe Chinstrap Penguins and Macaroni Penguins and breeding Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses. On Salisbury Plain, we will see a huge King Penguin colony, elephant seals and fur seals. On Prion Island in the Bay of Isles we can see breeding Wandering Albatrosses. At the end of our time in South Georgia we will visit the abandoned whaling settlement in Grytviken, where now the penguins walk through the streets, and King Edwards Point where the grave of Shackleton lies.
Days 13 – 17: At sea - In the Westerlies we have a pleasant tailwind. On both sides of the Antarctic Convergence, we observe many species and great numbers of Antarctic and sub-Antarctic seabirds.
Day 18: Gough Island - Today we plan to approach the unique Gough Island for zodiac cruising around the island, as always weather permitting. In previous years we managed to circumnavigate all but four miles of the 33 mile circumference of the island in the ship, saw spectacular scenery and an unprecedented abundance of wildlife. We felt very privileged to be among the few visitors who have been able to experience Gough and in particular, to see it at such close quarters and in such favorable conditions. We hope to be lucky to repeat this unique experience with you.
Days 19 – 21: Tristan da Cunha - In the Tristan da Cunha archipelago we plan to call on the settlement at the west side of the main island. We will also try to make landings at Nightingale Island and Inaccessible Island with millions of seabirds ranging from Yellow-nosed Albatrosses to Brown Noddies. We allow one day in reserve for bad weather. Please note that we will try and approach for landings, however due to the weather conditions this is not always possible.
Since we began our Atlantic Odyssey's (1998) we failed during 30% of the voyages to make landings in the Tristan da Cunha archipelago, due to adverse weather.
Day 22 – 25: At sea - We now enter sub-tropical waters with their own species of seabirds and dolphins.
Day 26 – 28: St. Helena - St. Helena has a good anchorage and landing site. On this island, we will have ample opportunities to enjoy local culture, pleasant climate, and endemic plants and birds. We will visit the place where Napoleon lived in exile. There will be opportunities to explore the Island on your own and for snorkelling; in the shallow surf where we can find a lot of fishes.
Day 29 – 30: At sea
Day 31 -32: Ascension Island ( April 18 - 19 ) - Ascension Island is a dry volcanic island with a moist and richly vegetated top. The Sooty Tern (wide-awake) colony sometimes consists of more than 1 million breeding pairs. We will try to climb the moist summit of Ascension Island and make a zodiac-cruise around Boatswain Bird Island offering also great opportunities for snorkelling. We may witness egg-laying sea turtles coming ashore at night. Some of our passengers may disembark and fly with the scheduled RAF (Royal Air Force) flight to Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, UK. Others may proceed with the voyage to the Cape Verdes. In the evening the vessel will depart from Ascension Island.
Ascension Island – Praia, Cape Verdes
Days 33 (April 20) – 37: At sea - We witness the northbound spring migration of northern birds like Arctic Terns and Long-tailed Skuas who join us in crossing the Equator (“the Line”).
Day 38: Praia (April 25) - Passengers will disembark at 9.00 hours* Those who will fly from Praia on the night of May 05 / 06 will be offered an excursion in Praia on Sao Tiago. We shall make an excursion to Cidade Velha, steeped in history, and shall observe the massive fortress on the hill, built to deter English marauders in the period when the Crowns of Portugal and Spain were united and Portuguese possessions became as fair game to the likes of Drake and Raleigh as were Spanish ones. We shall see the ruins of the Cathedral, the oldest Christian Church in the tropics, and the slave whipping post in the main square. The village is well watered and there are plantations of sugar cane, which support a rum distillery, and several species of birds. We shall have another guided stroll around the City of Praia, which is the capital of the Cape Verdes, and which has given rise to a unique variety of folk music, which we shall hear as we pass the various bars!
* For the disembarking passengers we will reserve a few rooms in a hotel in Praia, where we collect their luggage and where they can freshen up at the end of their excursion before travelling to the airport in the night or to their hotels if they are staying longer in Praia.