South Georgia is a very special place. The overwhelming abundance and variety of wildlife, combined with the rich and fascinating stories of South Georgia’s whaling, military and epic human history makes this island one of the highlights of an Antarctic experience.
The island is also incredibly beautiful. Sweeping plains and jagged mountains mould together, punctuated by huge glaciers which pour down the mountains calving icebergs to the sea. Long tussock grasses cover vast areas of the lower flanks, providing excellent nesting grounds for birds including the majestic wandering albatross and the endemic South Georgia pintail.
Lying north of the Antarctic Peninsula, summer in South Georgia starts earlier and lasts longer than at its icy neighbour. As such it is a vital breeding ground for huge concentrations of seals, penguins and other birdlife which take seasonal residence along its shores.
The waters here are extremely cold and contain large supplies of oxygen and nutrients that support the abundant wildlife for which this Island is renowned. More than half the world's population of southern elephant seal reside on South Georgia and territorial males guard harems of up to 100 females in the breeding season. Half a million pairs of King Penguins form the spectacular feature of Salisbury Plain, one of the largest breeding colonies in the World. With around 105,000 pairs of Gentoo Penguins and 6,000 pairs of noisy and boisterous Chinstraps, the abundance of wildlife along these shores can be truly overwhelming.
The great success story of South Georgia is the fur seal. Although once thriving in numbers, these seals were brought to the edge of extinction as a result of indiscriminate hunting with only 25 animals remaining by the 1950's. Today they are thought to number over 3 million.
For many visitors, this spectacle of wildlife provides emotional and never to be forgotten memories. But this wild and remote island also has a strong human history: being able to stand and reflect on the anchorage of Scotts Discovery or to remember the feats of Shackleton at his grave side is indeed a humbling experience.
Aqua-Firma Antarctic Expertise
The Aqua-Firma team have been exploring Antarctica for many years; guiding, driving zodiacs, and as marine scientists, delivering inspiring onboard lectures and educating guests of the magnificent but fragile beauty of Antarctica. It is this in-depth, on location knowledge and expertise which can assist with your choice of voyage to best match your timing, interests and budget.
When to visit
Our small ship Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula voyages are available Oct-March. Talk to us about your interests and aspirations as every phase of the season has its unique features. In late October, there are greater volumes of ice and snow, a scenically pristine environment. Penguin courtship displays and boisterous elephant seal harems signify the height of the breeding season. It is an adventurous, memorable and cost-effective time to visit.
By December and January noisy penguin chicks and seal pups dominate South Georgia’s scenery and by March, as the season progresses, we continue to witness an increased abundance of whales.
Small ship voyages
Carrying between 12 and 200 passengers, these strong comfortable ships foster an intimate atmosphere for like minded people who share a true passion for remote wild and wonderful corners of our planet. Ships vary appreciably in level of comfort from an expedition ship to a more luxurious expedition cruise offering spacious en suite cabins and excellent cuisine. Each maximizes time spent off the ship with inspired daily landings, informed presentations and exploration in the company of experts.
A full complement of Zodiac craft (rigid inflatable boats) facilitate small group expert-led landings and close encounters with wildlife. Onboard lecture programmes span subjects such as: wildlife, birdlife and marine life as well as human history, geology, and polar conservation.
Polar expertise and optional adventures
Your guides are the key to inspire and enrich your knowledge of the unique polar environment. Aqua-Firma marine scientists, guides, polar divers and kayakers have many years of in depth on location experience. Specialist knowledge on certain trips enable us to offer adventure options such as following Shackeltons route on skis or on foot, kayaking, diving and polar photography workshops onboard.
Our promise and your protection
Polar voyages are a major commitment for most travellers. We offer a personal and professional service with a promise that for any experience which is directly comparable, our prices are never beaten. Detailed information is provided throughout your booking and preparation process and with our first hand experience we are always available to answer any questions, no matter how small, giving 24 hour support before you depart and whilst away.
Although our voyages can be enjoyed as stand alone experiences, we are a fully ATOL bonded travel company and happy to provide flights and accommodation before and after your voyage. Aqua-Firma have the expertise to extend your travel plans and are a specialist at tailor made travel within Argentina and other parts of Latin America.