Wildlife Group Tour

Antarctica, South Georgia & Falklands Cruise with Monty Halls, Sue Flood and Telegraph Tours

24 days

from £10,950pp

    The Ultimate Trip To Antarctica

    • Once in a lifetime cruise to Antarctica with marine biologist Monty Halls & wildlife photographer Sue Flood.
    • Our exclusive Antarctic cruise includes time in the wildlife hotspots of the Falklands Islands and South Georgia as well as the Antarctic Peninsula
    • See up to seven species of penguin, three species of whale as well as fur and elephant seals
    • Join Sir Ranulph Fiennes for a private dinner and lecture in Buenos Aires and Ushuaia.

    For anybody with a love of wildlife and wild places, an expedition voyage to the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula is the ultimate experience. Nothing quite prepares one for the epic scale of Antarctica or the amazing sense of space. Towering ice cliffs, gigantic glaciers, bergs the size of skyscrapers – little wonder that Roald Amundsen wrote of Antarctica, that “the land looks like a fairy-tale”.

    The wildlife is equally as spellbinding. None more so than the penguin colony of Salisbury Plain on South Georgia. Home to over 200,000 king penguins, the visual spectacle is extraordinary; so too the sounds and smells.

    Why discover antarctica with steppes?

    Steppes is very excited to be offering an exclusive cruise to Antarctica, in conjunction with Telegraph Tours. This has been many months in the planning and here are some of the reasons why we believe this to be the ultimate Antarctic cruise:

    Akademik Ioffe – an ice strengthened expedition ship

    We wanted to secure the perfect ship for your Antarctic cruise and in the Akademik Ioffe, we believe that is exactly what we have. Designed as a scientific research vessel, she is stable, quick and manoeuvrable – making your crossing of the Drake Passage that much more comfortable.

    Thanks to an ongoing programme of refits and refurbishments she is comfortable and well-equipped for expedition cruising. Life on board is made congenial by a separate bar and lounge, a library, a theatre presentation room and a gym. With only a maximum of 100 passengers, it means less time is spent waiting to disembark or embark and thus maximising your time exploring Antarctica by zodiac, kayak and foot.

    Expert led Antarctic voyage - our antarctic cruise Tour Leaders

    The Ioffe’s team of Antarctic cruise specialists provide fascinating insight into polar history and the natural world but on our exclusive charter we felt compelled to augment their knowledge with a few of our own experts:

    Sir Ranulph Fiennes

    Prior to setting sail we have organised for the world's greatest living explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes to meet with you for a private dinner in Buenos Aires and Ushuaia. Sir Ranulph is synonymous with Antarctic exploration and will give your cruise a unique send-off.

    Monty Halls

    Monty Halls is a writer, explorer, television presenter, public speaker and President of the Galapagos Conservation Trust. A former Royal Marines officer who worked for Nelson Mandela on the peace process in South Africa, he left the services in 1996 to pursue a career in leading expeditions. Having achieved a First Class Honours degree in marine biology, over the next decade he circumnavigated the globe four times on various projects, leading multi-national teams in some of the most demanding environments on earth. In 2002 he was awarded the Bish Medal by the Scientific Exploration Society for his services to exploration. Monty will give a number of presentations on board and will join in all of the excursions and activities offered throughout the Antarctic cruise.

     ‘’For a marine biologist with a background of leading expeditions to far flung places, the opportunity to travel to Antarctica with Steppes Travel was too good to miss. Antarctica is a hot spot for some of the world’s largest marine mammals and to say I am excited about the prospect of searching for whales in the Scotia Sea and the Gerlache Strait is an understatement. The history of polar exploration has long held a fascination for me and so to retrace Shackleton’s footsteps and to see his grave will be a humbling experience. I look forward to meeting you in Antarctica and sharing these remarkable experiences. ‘’ – Monty Halls

    Sue Flood

    Sue Flood is a photographer, author, wildlife filmmaker and conservationist.  Sue was an associate producer on the award winning BBC series The Blue Planet, and also more recently worked on Planet Earth.  Her photographic highlights include diving with humpback whales in the South Pacific, face-to-face encounters with leopard seals in the Antarctic, filming polar bears in the Arctic, and photographing the wildlife of Zambia. An Antarctic cruise provides for some incredible photographic opportunities and in Sue Flood we believe we have found the perfect photographic guide to help you capture the white continent’s spectacular landscape and fauna. Sue and Steppes have worked together on photographic trips all over the world but she is never happier than when she is photographing in Antarctica. She will give presentations and photographic workshops on board and will be on hand during excursions to give tips and technical advice. 

     ‘’There’s something about an occasional stint in the Polar Regions that will bring out the photographer in all of us. But for Sue Flood, if it’s a cold place then that’s her territory. As an artist with the camera, Flood has a terrific eye for what makes the extremes of the ice domain so appealing, dangerous and poetic. She captures these landscapes, and the animals and people that inhabit them, with a clarity of vision and excellence of technique that most photographers simply don’t have.’’

    - Nick Smith in the Explorers Club journal

    Itinerary – making the most of your time in Antarctica

    Having secured the Ioffe our next priority was the itinerary. South Georgia and the Falklands were "must-haves" as the wildlife here is prolific. Huge rookeries of rockhopper, Magellanic and king penguins can be seen on the open plains of the islands while significant numbers of both fur seals and the larger elephant seal can be found on the dark, volcanic sandy beaches. Seabirds are also abundant around South Georgia and the Falklands, with wandering and black-browed albatross particularly thriving. On South Georgia, the group will trek to Shackleton's grave and raise a toast to "The Boss".

    Our next non-negotiable was the Antarctic Peninsula. Sea ice is broken up at this time in the season which increases the number of landing sites along the peninsula and on the South Shetland Islands. Take a gentle trek to a high point, find a quiet spot and reflect on the sense of openness and space. We are very excited at the prospect of following in Shackleton's footstepes and attempting to make a landing on Elephant Island.

    Wildlife on the peninsula is remarkable and at this time of year chinstrap, gentoo and Adelie penguins can be seen rearing young chicks so the rookeries are full of life. Marine wildlife is also rich in this area with humpback, minke and orca whale frequently seen.

    Expeditionary style of travel

    Just as important as the destinations visited on the voyage, was finding a partner in Antarctica whom shares our commitment to delivering an expeditionary style of trip. The staff and crew of the Ioffe have years of experience - between them they have seen over 20 million penguins - in operating safe, informative and exhilarating Antarctic experiences. The emphasis is on getting off the ship and getting Antarctic snow on your boots, maximising the extended daylight hours. Zodiac safaris, hiking, kayaking, camping on the ice and polar plunges are possible on our Antarctic charter. On board there will be a fascinating programme of talks and lectures, ranging from natural history to the history of polar exploration.

    Is January-february a good time to visit Antarctica?

    The Antarctic season runs from November to March and during this time there is not a bad time to visit. Travelling in late January/early February however has many added benefits:

    • Heightened whale activity - at the very beginning of the season the whales are only intent on feeding and so sightings are less frequent. As the season progresses the whales become more inquisitve, making for memorable sightings and exceptional photographic opportunities. 
    • Reduced sea ice - by late January, the sea ice is less thick making access to some of Antarctica's more secluded sites possible. The bigger bergs are visible all year round and are a favourite subject for photography.
    • Penguin chicks are active - the chicks are gaining in strength and confidence by this time in the season and so are very mobile and active. Interaction with parents and other chicks makes for great sightings.
    • Good time for seeing massive numbers of king penguins - by the time our Antarctic charter reaches South Georgia, the king penguin colonies will be heaving as the birds will have all returned from feeding in the southern ocean. Some will already have chicks while others will be mating.
    • Beaches in South Georgia are more accessible - elephant seals mate during November and December and so at this time, access to South Georgia's beaches can be a challenge - it is not advisable to get in between a 2,000 kg elephant seal and the object of his affection. When our Antarctic charter anchors off South Georgia the mating should be over and so access to the rugged beaches will be less hazardous!

    Flight package

    The flight package cost of £2,195 per person is currently a provisional rate as we are waiting for British Airways to confirm their group rate fare. The package includes the following:

    • International flights from London
    • Domestic flights - Buenos Aires to Ushuaia return
    • 1 night's accommodation in Buenos Aires (pre voyage)
    • Welcome dinner in Buenos Aires with special guest, Sir Ranulph Fiennes
    • 1 night's accommodation in Ushuaia (pre voyage)
    • Farewell dinner in Ushuaia with special guest Sir Ranulph Fiennes
    • 1 night's accommodation in Buenos Aires (post voyage)
    • All transfers

    Cold Places

    We will happily send a copy of Sue Flood's beautiful photo-book 'Cold Places' to anybody joining us in Antarctica on our exclusive charter. If this doesn't get you in the mood for your polar holiday then nothing will.

    For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

      Click here to see what is included/excluded

    what is included

    • All excursions and landings
    • Loan of wellington boots, expedition jacket & over trousers
    • Optional overnight camping inc equipment; subject to weather
    • Post voyage photographic expedition log
    • Services of expedition staff onboard
    • Services of special guests Monty Halls & Sue Flood
    • Voyage on a full board basis

    what is excluded

    • Airport taxes payable locally
    • Drinks, laundry and items of a personal nature
    • Flights to and from the UK and Ushuaia
    • Pre and post voyage accommodation package
    • Tips and gratuities
    • Travel insurance
    • Visas

    PLEASE NOTE THE ABOVE FLIGHT COST IS A SUGGESTED FROM PRICE. FLIGHT COSTS WILL BE CONFIRMED AT TIME OF BOOKING. ALL FLIGHTS ARE ATOL PROTECTED.

    Itinerary at a glance

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    Day 1

    Fly London to Buenos Aires

    Day 2

    Private dinner with Sir Ranulph Fiennes
    This evening you are invited to spend an evening with the world's greatest living explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes. Sir Ranulph will meet with the group in Buenos Aires for dinner at Happening, one of Buenos Aires finest Parrillas, after which he will give a welcome speech.

    'The Paris of Latin America', Buenos Aires is quite simply one of the world's greatest cosmopolitan cities. World class museums and leading restaurants jostle for space with boutique shops and antique markets. The colonial architecture and cobbled streets of San Telmo contrast with the modern lines and waterfront designs of up and coming Puerto Madero.

    It is a city with a colourful and fascinating history, which has given rise to a variety of neighbourhoods from the uber trendy Palermo Soho to the bohemian charm found in La Boca, the birth place of tango.


    You will be staying at Alvear Art Hotel

    Day 3

    Fly Buenos Aires to Ushuaia


    Farewell dinner with Sir Ranulph Fiennes
    Today you are invited to spend another evening with Sir Ranulph Fiennes. Sir Ranulph is synonymous with Antarctic exploration and after a delicious farewell dinner in the Salón Magallanes with its expansive views across the Beagle Channel, he will set the scene for your imminent Antarctic adventure with a rousing farewell speech.

    Situated on the southern shore of Tierra del Fuego, Ushuaia is the most southerly town in the world. Founded in 1884, the town was a penal colony until 1947. The location is fantastic, with views over the Beagle Channel and across to the Chilean Island of Navarino. Ushuaia can be either the jump off point for Antarctic cruises or the base from which to explore Tierra Del Fuego National Park and The Beagle Channel.


    You will be staying at Arakur Resort & Spa

    Day 4

    Board the Ioffe in Ushuaia
    Have the morning at leisure to explore, before transferring to the pier and embarking on the expedition ship - Akademik Ioffe. Set sail in the early evening, charting a course through the scenic Beagle Channel, plan to be on deck for this part of the journey as the light of the late, setting sun is a photographer's dream.


    You will be staying at Akademik Ioffe

    Day 5

    Southern Ocean
    Sailing northeast towards the Falkland Islands, watch the hundreds of seabirds flying near the ship including the wandering albatross, giant petrels and smaller Cape petrels. Photographing these magnificent birds from the deck of the ship takes patience and skill. Sue Flood and the other on board photography experts will be on hand to demonstrate the best techniques.

    During the sailing there is the chance to spend plenty of time with Monty Halls, Sue Flood and the other on board Antarctic experts. Learn about the wonders of Antarctica through a series of lectures on the environment, wildlife and history of the locations that will be visited in the coming days, weather and sea conditions permitting.


    You will be staying at Akademik Ioffe

    Day 6

    Visit the Falkland Islands
    Arrive in the Falklands during the night. After breakfast, set out on the first shore excursion to explore the islands of the West Falkland archipelago, home to a wide range of avifauna, including the black-browed albatross.

    Have the chance to spot penguins for the first time, on the island of West Point. On Carcass Island, observe nesting Magellanic penguins, as well as oystercatchers, geese and flightless steamer ducks - permanent Falkland residents.


    You will be staying at Akademik Ioffe

    Day 7

    Explore the Falkland Islands
    Today make a stop in Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands. Wander through the charming streets of brightly painted houses and learn how this quiet harbour was once a major 19th-century port. Consider a stop in Stanley's famed philatelic museum, with its impressive collection of historic stamps. Or choose to take a walk along the harbour front, which is lined with a range of monuments, including the mast of the SS Great Britain.


    You will be staying at Akademik Ioffe

    Day 8

    Two Days Travelling to South Georgia
    Continue southeast, bound for the island of South Georgia. Pass the time scanning the horizon in search of whales and other marine mammals, as well as seabirds. Listen to the on-board experts as they continue their lectures; the theme of polar conservation will most definitely feature as will tales of heroism whilst they recount the daredevil exploits of some of the earliest Antarctic explorers. Feel the anticipation grow as the ship crosses the Antarctic Convergence and the temperature drops dramatically.


    You will be staying at Akademik Ioffe

    Day 9

    Sailing to South Georgia


    You will be staying at Akademik Ioffe

    Day 10

    Three Days Discovering South Georgia
    Exploration of South Georgia will begin in the vicinity of Elsehul Bay where majestic snow-covered mountains dominate the skyline. Large numbers of fur seals and the much larger elephant seal line up on the dark sand beaches. Living in the tussock grass, king penguins and their chicks may number up to 200,000 birds in some locations, including Salisbury Plain, St Andrew's Bay and Gold Harbour. The island is also home to large numbers of nesting albatross which can be seen filling the skies, coming and going from the nest.

    South Georgia is a thrilling location for history buffs. The rusting relics of the early whaling industry can be seen slowly disintegrating at old stations on the beaches at Leith, Husvik and Stromness. A highlight is a visit to Grytviken - the largest of the whaling stations, situated at the head of Cumberland Bay. Visit the grave of the Antarctic explorer known as 'The Boss' - Sir Ernest Shackleton, along with that of Frank Wild. There may be an opportunity to spend time exploring the small museum and accompanying church, with its fascinating library.


    You will be staying at Akademik Ioffe

    Day 11

    South Georgia Exploration


    You will be staying at Akademik Ioffe

    Day 12

    South Georgia Exploration


    You will be staying at Akademik Ioffe

    Day 13

    Three Days Sailing to Antarctica and Elephant Island
    Weather and ice will dictate the crossing of the Scotia Sea from South Georgia to Antarctica, taking in the South Orkney Islands or Elephant Island.

    The South Orkney Islands represent the peaks of a submarine mountain range called the Scotia Arc, connecting South Georgia to the South Shetland Islands. Often shrouded in fog and surrounded by ice much of the year, a chance to visit these islands doesn't come often.

    Sailing ever closer to the frozen continent, large icebergs announce the ship's arrival in to Antarctic waters. If conditions allow see the dark cliffs of Elephant Island appear on the horizon. Shackleton and his men were encamped here for many months, having lost HMS Endurance in the thick sea ice, far to the south in the Weddell Sea in 1915. From the tiny beach at Point Wild, Shackleton and six companions set off on the rescue mission to South Georgia, aboard the tiny lifeboat, James Caird. To this day, the epic ocean crossing is considered one of the greatest in history. If conditions allow, attempt a landing at Point Wild on Elephant Island.


    You will be staying at Akademik Ioffe

    Day 14

    Sailing to Antarctica and Elephant Island


    You will be staying at Akademik Ioffe

    Day 15

    Sailing to Antarctica and Elephant Island


    You will be staying at Akademik Ioffe

    Day 16

    Four Days Exploring the South Shetlands & Antarctic Mainland
    Around 60 miles off the coast of the Antarctic mainland lie the South Shetland Island chain. To explore this archipelago, landings will be attempted at either King George Island, Half Moon Island, Yankee Harbour or Hannah Point. Weather conditions permitting sail into the flooded volcanic caldera of Deception Island. There are some outstanding hikes at these locations and the old whaling station and aircraft hangar at Deception Island are fascinating sites.

    The icy waters of the Antarctic Peninsula are first entered in the vicinity of Mikkelson Harbour or Cierva Cove. Snow covered mountains soar from the dark waters and along the shoreline, in the bays and harbours of the Peninsula, lives an incredible abundance of wildlife. Large rookeries are home to chinstrap, gentoo and Adelie penguins and seals live on the ice floes, including the powerful leopard seal. Gulls, skuas and cormorants are also found nesting and feeding at many sites along the Antarctic Peninsula.

    The peninsula is best explored by zodiac boat before landing ashore to explore on foot. While the weather and ice conditions will determine where is best to visit, highlights include Wilhelmina Bay, Orne Harbour, Cuverville Island and the Errera Channel. When on land there are numerous activities one can pursue. Join Sue Flood to take close up photos of penguins or join Monty Halls on a hike to the top of a snowy mountain saddle with exceptional views. Alternatively, find a quiet spot on your own and enjoy the peace and solitude of Antarctica.


    You will be staying at Akademik Ioffe

    Day 17

    Exploring the Antarctic Peninsula


    You will be staying at Akademik Ioffe

    Day 18

    Exploring the Antarctic Peninsula


    You will be staying at Akademik Ioffe

    Day 19

    Exploring the Antarctic Peninsula


    You will be staying at Akademik Ioffe

    Day 20

    Drake Passage
    Leave this enchanting landscape behind and head north, across the Antarctic Convergence and Drake Passage. After rounding Cape Horn, have time to reflect on the previous few days whilst sailing down the Beagle Channel. Celebrate the conclusion of the expedition with a special dinner that evening.


    You will be staying at Akademik Ioffe

    Day 21

    At sea crossing the Drake Passage


    You will be staying at Akademik Ioffe

    Day 22

    Ushuaia
    Arrive back in Ushuaia early in the morning. Disembark after breakfast and transfer to the airport for the flight to Buenos Aries. Depending on the flight times you may have time to explore Ushuaia and your main luggage will be stored for you.

    Fly Ushuaia to Buenos Aires


    You will be staying at Alvear Art Hotel

    Day 23

    Fly Buenos Aires to London

    Accommodation

    Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

    Akademik Ioffe

    Akademik Ioffe

    The Akademik Ioffe was designed as a scientific research vessel, built in Finland in 1989 for the Russian Academy of Science....

    View Accommodation

    Alvear Art Hotel

    Alvear Art Hotel

    Alvear Art Hotel is a modern hotel comprising of 137 rooms and two suites, all elegantly decorated....

    View Accommodation

    For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

    Destination Experts

    Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Antarctica

    James Armitage, Travel Expert

    "The help and great knowledge James offered really made the holiday special"

    "James listened and managed our expectations and therefore made sure we were prepared for all eventualities when going on our holiday to Brazil"

    "James was brilliant and all the advice was spot on."

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    John Faithfull, Travel Expert

    "Personalised service. Seemed to really want to get it right for us. Very impressed when I first called and John spent 40 minutes finding out what we wanted to do and tailoring it for us."

    "The expertise that John has really gave us faith in where we were going, the regions, the hotels, the trips. John knew about it all, he described them in detail, and when we asked for different regions he was straight in there with suggestions and ideas. The way the whole trip was planned and presented to us, never any pressure to book or any problem to change plans /ideas."

    "John Faithful was wonderfully helpful and conscientious in arranging the itinerary and was always ready to suggest alternatives or rearrange matters without any hesitation; this and his detailed knowledge gave one great confidence."

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    Sue Grimwood, Travel Expert

    "It was tremendously helpful to be able to speak to someone who had been to Antarctica before - Sue had been on the ship we had booked, so was able to give us some very useful information. We felt that at every stage of the booking process that we were in safe hands. "

    ""I was uncharacteristically worried about this trip - neurotic some might say - and I was given 110% support and help with everything. I had been disappointed by not being able to get a space on the 2014 trip and so Sue was stuck with me for 2 years - a testament to her patience and professionalism. I was confident in Sue - she knows Antarctica and speaks from experience, that is worth a huge amount. Emails, which I would send were responded to almost immediately.""

    Read More

    For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

    Holiday Ideas in Antarctica

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