Brought to you by: Alex Fayan, Business Development Manager

Ship: Aurora Expeditions, Polar Pioneer /Greg Mortimer
Sailing Dates: 24 March 2018 x 14 nights
Destination: Falklands – Malvinas and South Georgia
Itinerary: Sub-Antarctic Safari


  • Penguin central. From our very first landing on the Falklands, we were spoilt, as we spotted no less than five species of penguins. Shy Magellanic penguins waddled away from us to hide in their burrows. Cheeky Gentoos were checking us out, and half a dozen King Penguins showed off their beautiful tuxedo-like feathers while huddling around their chicks. We witnessed where Rock Hoppers got their name from, as they comically leapt from one rock to another, not without tripping and gracefully springing back up again. Nothing could prepare us for the sight, sound and smell of the hundreds and thousands of King Penguins we were going to discover in South Georgia where we were lucky to be able to visit the biggest colonies.
  • Sealy season. As we were travelling towards the end of the season, the scary male Elephant seals were out at sea on a food finding mission, while females were weaning their pups on the beach. What a spectacle as these gigantic creatures barked and flapped! I made sure I stayed well away. On the other hand, I had to refrain myself from getting too close to the many cute and ever so playful watery eyed fur seal pups. As we were venturing into their ‘playground’, the Expedition Team had us fully briefed on how close we could get to the wildlife.
  • Seize the unpredictable day. After celebrating one of our fellow expeditioners’ birthday the night before over a glass or three of Malbec, we woke up to a very windy and cold day. As tempting as it was to stay in our cosy bed, we piled on the layers and headed out to the deck. For every landing, the expedition team goes out and scouts the area and conditions before coming back to the ship. In true Aurora style, we were not going to let the weather stop us and were ready to push our boundaries. The Expedition Team soon returned and confirmed that the wind had picked up even more and we would not be able to land in this spot. We went back to the ship and enjoyed a well needed hot chocolate with ‘ship baked’ cookies while sailing away to another sheltered bay. We later landed on a stunning beach greeted by more feathery hosts. Best thing is we were able to go back a few days later. This does not happen on a large ship!
  • Walking in our heroes’ shoes. From the first few days, those of us who were not very familiar with the history of explorers who had ventured to this part of the world were introduced to the legendary Sir Ernest Shackleton. Howard, our inspirational Expedition Leader, transported us back in time as he recounted the story of one of the most epic expeditions of all time. On a couple of evenings, some of us watched a movie retracing his history. As we were sailing and the wind was quite active that night, it even added a bit of an IMAX feel to the whole experience! By the time we landed in South Georgia, a group of us found ourselves retracing some of his perilous journey. As we were hiking up rocky mountains with strong gusts of wind against us, our Expedition Team reminded us how Shackleton and his men had to face much worse conditions with threadbare clothing and boots, while we happily donned our warm Aurora jackets. This was a challenging hike, but we learnt so much and as we arrived in Grytviken, the sun broke through. After a walk greeted by more playful fur seal pups, we had a shot of whisky to toast Shackleton by his grave and reflected on his heroic achievements.
  • Cracking day. Every morning felt like Christmas, as I couldn’t wait to wake up in Peggotty Bluff, I was yet again spoilt with another jaw dropping panorama – snow as far as the eye can see. That afternoon, we hopped into a zodiac, marveling at glacier rocks glistening from the nearby waterfalls. The peak of the day was when we switched the zodiac’s engine off. It’s as if nature was expecting us and had put on a show. As we sat quietly contemplating the stunning vistas, we waited patiently, while being gently rocked by the water splashing against the zodiac. Suddenly, we heard the glaciers and icefalls cracking and watched as tons of ice tumbled off high slopes, sounding like thunder echoing all around us. I still get goose bumps thinking about it!
  • On board fun. I am one of these people who enjoys both big and smaller ships as they offer completely different experiences. I won’t lie and before this cruise, I was asking myself what on earth would I do on sea days. Being on a small ship meant that on most days, we were able to land twice a day. In between, we would fuel up, add and remove layers and suddenly, it was night time. Having walked for a few hours , combined with cold weather and plenty of delicious food, we were all pretty tired by the end of the day. We would usually have a leisurely long dinner, getting to know each other. After this, you could opt for a drink at the bar, a movie or documentary in the theatre or play board games as I did! Sea days also flew by, attending fascinating talks on the history and wildlife of the places we were about to discover and getting tips from our award-winning on-board photographer. On the new ships, I know I might visit the gym, and I have no doubt I will be spending time in the jacuzzi, sauna or treat myself to a massage or two!
  • Take the (ice) plunge. Although I grew up swimming in the North Sea, you won’t see me swimming in Bondi unless it’s been VERY hot ALL day. In the months leading up to my expedition, I was dreading the famous polar plunge. However, Aurora gives us that opportunity and nudge to get out of our comfort zone and as staff, I saw it as a bit of rite of passage. Also, I wanted to be able to tell all my agents about it! Suddenly, the day came and on one beautiful and calm morning, we were told that today was ‘the day’. My stomach was in knots as we all waited, yet I volunteered to be the first one to jump. It all went really fast. I jumped in the 5 degree water, felt numb and within seconds got ‘scooped’ out of the water. Scott our photographer didn’t miss any of it. As I stood on the deck in the blowing wind wrapped in my towel and cheering others taking the plunge, I was trying to keep warm until everyone was done when we made a run for the sauna. Needless to say, we all felt very proud!

Top Tips

1. Bird watching. Our on-board Naturalist shared her infectious passion for birds. I recommend you get out on the decks, head to the bridge and anytime you’re on land, look out for those fascinating creatures from tiny terns to elegant albatross and even mean Skuas trying to snatch an egg or chick. Grab some binoculars and spend time testing your observation skills. You will feel like royalty as birds guide you to our next destinations dancing gracefully around the ship.

2. Switch off. No WIFI, no worries! Although there is WIFI on board, I would recommend making the most of being at the other end of the world to indulge in the remoteness of it all. Let nature and the wildlife be the protagonist of the best series yet. Speak to ‘real’ people and enjoy some ‘me time’, disconnect and appreciate how small we are, as you cruise past a huge glacier or find yourself surrounded by hundreds of penguins.

3. Look with your eyes. So here you are, in a place that is out of this world…Penguins come up so close that you don’t dare move or say a word. This is so exciting, you want to make sure you capture it all. You want to share it with the world. You take a million pictures because you can and you want to make sure you remember all of it as vividly as you are seeing it now. Your battery runs out, you switch to your phone and don’t care if you can’t feel your fingers. Go trigger happy, but then make sure to STOP! Put your lense down and observe with your eyes. Let the penguins look you up in the eye and enjoy the best view.

4. Be curious. Throughout the expedition, you will have multiple opportunities to learn and hear the most amazing facts about the wildlife and plants from our Naturalist. Our Historian will share countless stories about explorers and local communities who we follow or visit. Our Geologist’s talk about rocks and our Glaciologist will introduce us to the ‘fifty shades of blue’. Our Expedition team is like ‘a sailing encyclopedia’ and are always looking to learn more. In true Aurora style, they will join us for meals and at the bar, meaning you have even more chances to ask them any burning questions you may still have.

5. Book an activity. Make the most of our comprehensive program of activities. Whether you book camping, kayaking, skiing or snorkelling in our warmer destinations, this will be ‘up there’ on the bragging rights list and give you an additional and magical perspective on the destination. Also, ‘stalk’ our photographer! Attend their presentations where they uncover valuable secrets to help you take the best pictures and videos whether you have a fancy or point to shoot camera or a mobile phone and follow them to some of the best snapping spots.

6. Get involved. Always wanted to help but not much of a scientist? On most of our expeditions, you will have the opportunity to take part in our ‘Citizen science’ program. For example, you could be taking snaps of whales or look at ice under the microscope. Some of the data we collect will contribute to the research of many organizations including prestigious universities.

7. Zodiac cruise. Our zodiacs are not just a way to get from ship to shore. Make sure you take part in some of our cruises on board these inflatable boats. These will allow you to get to places that you can’t access with our ship or by foot. Whether you’re on a zodiac, cruising past a huge bird cliff in Antarctica or the Arctic, you will hear the deafening cacophony of the locals and no doubt enjoy observing their antics. At times, we will switch of the engines which will give us more opportunities for a close encounter with the wildlife passing by. These are ‘front row seats’ whether you find yourself observing a breaching whale or a polar bear from a safe distance.

8. No regrets. Make the most of it – rain, hail or shine. One day, the prospect of going out in the cold and rainy weather may sound less appealing than drinking a coffee and relaxing in our observation lounge, however, everyone from the Expedition team will tell you, this is the day that something big always happens! You may not be back in those destinations for a while if at all, so do not risk missing out on a potentially life transforming experience. Wrap up, get over it and amongst it!

9. Be flexible. Itineraries you will see on our website are guidelines only. Our voyages are dictated by the weather and ice conditions meaning that on some days we may land somewhere we didn’t expect. However, we know why our expeditioners travel with us and our backup plans will always be built around providing the best experience possible.

10. Packing tips. Leave the tuxedo and ballgown at home. After a day of adventure, we want you to feel relaxed and comfortable in your floating home. Check out our packing list where we recommend what to bring. Bring some layers so you can peel them off while hiking or put them back on, on a windy zodiac cruise.