Falklands, South Georgia, and Antarctica Cruise

My wonderful wife Wendy works at Natural Habitat Adventures (they run incredible nature trips like this worldwide) and she went to Antarctica in 1997 - yes, she has a cool job. Due to a very fortunate set of circumstances (and her encouragement and willingness to watch our kids!), I was able to do a Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and Antarctica cruise in early 2009.

I departed from Ushuaia, Argentina on Jan 23rd aboard the Ocean Nova and returned on Feb 10th and it was truly an experience of a lifetime. The amazing wildlife and spectacular scenery supplies a "target rich environment" that is a photographer's ultimate fantasy - I took almost 10,000 pictures! The several dozen images on this page below provide a chronological overview, but be sure to use the index for each day as there was just so much to see on this awesome trip.

2016 Update: I visited South Georgia and Falkland Islands on-board the National Geographic Explorer.

Penguins galore (!) at typical Zodiac landing on South George en-route to Antarctica

salisbury plains south georgia penguins zodiac

"One Photographer and a Million Penguins" - Saint Andrews, South Georgia

saint andrew south georgia

Jan 21st: Wheels-up at Denver International Airport for a longggg flight!

antarctica dia travel 1

Jan 22nd: About 7,500 air miles and 30 hours later - shortly before landing in Ushuaia, Argentina

antarctica dia travel 2

Jan 23rd: Spending a day in Terra Del Fuego Park

Terra Del Fuego Park

Jan 23rd: The Ocean Nova shortly before departure from Ushuaia, Argentina

ocean nova 4755

Jan 24th: Giant Antarctica Petrel as we cruised on the Scotia Sea from Ushuaia to the Falkland Islands

scotia sea birds

Jan 25th: Zodiacs shuttling passengers from the Ocean Nova to West Point Island - Falklands

falklands west point island

Jan 25th: Rockhopper Penguin and Albatross Rookery on West Point Island

falklands west point island birds

Jan 25th: Black-browed Albatross on West Point Island

falklands west point island albatross birds

Jan 25th: Gentoo Penguins scurry up the hill from a beach on Carcass Island - Falklands

falklands carcass island penguins

Jan 25th: Alek keeps his distance from a Hugenormous (!) Magellanic Penguin on Carcass Island

falklands carcass island giant penguins

Jan 25th: Falkland hospitality at the McGill homestead on Carcass Island

falklands carcass island mcgill

Jan 26th: The Union Jack flying over Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands

falklands port stanley

Jan 27th: We spot a Southern Right Whale while cruising in the Western Scotia Sea

southern right whale

Jan 29th: Diversity of wildlife as seen during morning Zodiac Cruise around Elsehul Harbor, South Georgia

elsehul south georgia

Jan 29th: Penguin Party at Salisbury Plains, South George - mouseover to see "returning to ship" picture

salisbury plains south georgia penguins zodiac

Jan 29th: Baby fur Seals checking out my camera - mouseover image to see the resulting picture! ;-)

salisbury plains zodiac

Jan 30th: Cruising into Fortuna Bay where we hiked the last part of the Shackleton Walk to Stromness

fortuna bay

Jan 30th: The Fortuna Bay fur seals also liked to check out the cameraman!

fortuna bay seals

Jan 30th: Our 4 mile hike wasn't quite an epic journey like Shackleton's and we also didn't lose a single person! ;-)

stromness group

Jan 30th: Paul "holds up" the Ocean Nova in Stromness Bay, South Georgia ;-)

ocean nova 7135

Feb 30th: Lots of people hung out for a while on this peaceful grassy plateau just above Stromness Harbor

Not so peaceful in a few minutes as a Skua attacks a Gentoo Penguin in a battle to the death - GORY pics
Stromness South Georgia a8

Jan 30th: An albino fur seal - mouseover image to see head back on straight

stromness albino fur seal

Jan 31st: Jim hanging out with a million Penguins at Saint Andrews, South Georgia

saint andrew south georgia

Jan 31st: Another picturesque view of Saint Andrews, South Georgia

saint andrew south georgia

Jan 31st: Penguin Huddle - "OK, you fake left and go right, you run a buttonhook, and you go deep - BREAK!"

saint andrew south georgia

Jan 31st: Former whaling station of Grytviken, South Georgia

grytviken south georgia

Feb 1st: Drygalski Fjord, South Georgia - the water is over 200 meters deep here!

ocean nova 9399

Feb 1st: This was a pretty active glacier with lots of calving - note the birds high-tailing it outa there!

glacier calving

Feb 1st: Incredibly colorful icebergs float by towering glaciated South Georgia mountains

glacier calving

Feb 1st: Macaroni Penguin at Cooper Bay - mouseover to see close-up with reflection of me taking the picture! ;-)

south georgia cooper bay macaroni penguin

Feb 3rd: Penguins on Iceberg near British Antarctic Survey Signy Base in the South Orkney Islands

ocean nova 8373

Feb 3rd: A brief stop on land at the halfway point between South Georgia and Antarctica

signy island base

Feb 4th: Sunset at 9:19PM on the Scotia Sea - mouseover image to see 3 minutes later

scotia sea sunset

Feb 5th: approaching Antarctica - taken at 3:32AM which was 63 minutes before a glorious sunrise

antarctica sunrise

Feb 5th: An Antarctic bird flies by just before sunrise - mouseover image for close-up

antarctica sunrise bird

Feb 5th: A few minutes after sunrise as others enjoy the experience

antarctica sunrise after

Feb 5th: Beautiful morning for our first Antarctica landing at Brown Bluff

antarctica Brown Bluff a5

Feb 5th: Invasion of the Adelie Penguins!!! (mouseover image to see 'em move)

antarctica gentoo penguin brown bluff

Feb 5th: The Adelie's were actually very friendly - mouseover to see Carol with her another of her "assistants"

antarctica brown bluff carol

Feb 5th: Gentoo Penguins also "posed" for close-in photos!

antarctica Brown Bluff gentoo penguin 3

antarctica Brown Bluff gentoo penguin 4

Feb 5th: Here's a close-up of his feet - mouseover image to see if he needs a manicure! ;-)

antarctica penguin closeup

Feb 6th: The Clipper Adventurer (and a Leopard Seal) passes by in the Errera Channel
This ship ended up taking the Ocean Nova's passengers 12 days later

ocean nova 0008

Feb 6th: We passed the Europa, a smaller and more rustic ship later on in the channel

danco island antarctica

Feb 6th: A Skua about to take flight - mouseover image to see me taking the picture

antarctica skua danco island

Feb 6th: Gentoo Penguins making their way down the poop stained snow pathways - mouseover to see 'em in action

gentoo penguins danco island antarctica

Feb 6th: We found a Snowman in Antarctica - mouseover image for less serious picture

antarctica snowman

Feb 6th: View from the Zodiac as we enter Neko Harbor, Antarctica

neko harbor antarctica zodiac

Feb 6th: View from ashore looking back at the Ocean Nova

neko harbor antarctica land

Feb 6th: It was fascinating to watch the bonding between the parents and chicks

neko harbor antarctica gentoo penguin

A darn cute pair of Gentoo Penguin chicks - mouseover image to see the family in action

gentoo penguin chicks a1

Feb 6th: Gentoo Penguins go for a swim - mouseover to see next underwater stroke

Gentoo Penguin under water

Feb 6th: We saw (and heard) several spectacular glacier calvings - mouseover image to see the whole arch fall!

neko harbor glacier calving

Feb 6th: Captain Alexey keeps a close eye on the Orlova in the Lemaire Channel that evening

lemaire channel ocean nova

Feb 6th: Ocean Nova Cabin #309 - my "home" for almost three weeks

ocean nova cabin

Feb 7th: Alek at Port Charcot - our last stop in Antarctica

antarctica port charcot

Feb 7th: Glen got the shot of Paul, James, and Kyle doing the "Polar Plunge" in sub-zero salt water!     Video

antarctica port charcot polar plunge

Feb 7th: The last Antarctic wildlife as photographed from the Zodiac on the way back to the ship

antarctica port charcot seals

Feb 7th: The last passenger off the last Zodiac signs in - me!

antarctica drake passage b1

Feb 7th: One of several piles of Wellington Boots - the wooden "boot remover" (back left) worked great

antarctica drake passage b1

Feb 7th: Looking back at the Zodiac gangway as everything is stowed away

antarctica drake passage b1

Feb 7th: This was posted nearby ... glad we never needed it ... but the next Ocean Nova trip did! ;-)

antarctica drake passage b1

Feb 7th: Last view of Antarctica - mouseover image for view without the ship in it

antarctica panorama

Feb 8th: Alek reviewing pictures despite not feeling too well - more due to a cold than the rough seas

Antarctica drake passage 2

Feb 9th: Kyle, James, and Paul enjoy the last evening onboard the ship

Antarctica drake passage 3

Feb 9th: I gave the slide show the last night onboard the Ocean Nova - mouseover image for other picture

antarctica slide show

We docked the morning of Feb 10th, 2009 - it felt good to be back on land after 19 days at sea!

The Ocean Nova would depart that evening with a new Captain and another group of passengers
On Feb 17th, the Ocean Nova ran aground in Marguerite Bay near the Argentine research station San Martin
It was eventually freed and all crew/passengers were fine - more details/pics here

Antarctica ocean nova

I took almost 10,000 pictures on this trip as it was a total sensory overload! So if the summary pictures above aren't enough for you, click on the links below to see even more images and information about each day of this sensational trip. I hope you enjoy the saga! ;-)
Here are some misc. Antarctica Photography Tips and for those interested, info on ordering prints
Read what people have said about the pictures and/or send me an Email with your questions/comments.
Antarctica Maps   -   Ship's Log with Daily Programs   -   Boulder Ignite 7 Presentation
P.S. If you do an Antarctica Cruise, I strongly recommend adding the Falklands and South Georgia Islands (changes the out-n-back trip to a triangular route) since in some respects, they are even more impressive than visiting the 7th continent - my wife Wendy mentions that in this 2013 Radio Interview. I also have visited the Galapagos Islands which are on the equator and have similar wildlife viewing. And if you want to go North instead of South, here's some pictures from a nifty Polar Bear trip. Plus land animals galore when my family travelled to Africa for a Safari.

2016 Update: I visited South Georgia and Falkland Islands on-board the National Geographic Explorer.