The Great Austral Loop

South Georgia Island

Between South America and the Antarctic Peninsula, a fabulous 16-day itinerary. An exceptional expedition cruise discovering the most beautiful sites of the southern polar lands. Once you’ve arrived at the Antarctic Peninsula, discover the exceptional face of the southern lands: Wilhelmina Bay, with its floating ice caps and humpback whales; Deception Island and its volcanic beaches; Half Moon Island.

Route Map

DATES: 2018 – Nov 18 to Dec 05 (A);
Dec 03 to 20 (A); Dec 12 to 29* (B)

Departure Port: Ushuaia

Port of arrival: Ushuaia

Ships: Le Austral (A); Le Boreal (B)
*Christmas Cruise

Download Great Austral Loop PDF


The highest concentration of Gentoo, Adelie and Chinstrap penguins in Antarctica; Minke and humpback Whales, Weddell seals, sea Leopards, and numerous sea birds: Cape Petrels, Albatrosses, imperial Shags, and snow Petrels.
• Outings and shore visits in Zodiac® inflatables with a team of experienced naturalist guides.
• Hiking opportunity: Fortuna Bay, Gold Harbour, Deception Island.
• Landscapes: mountain chains, lush green pastures in Falkland Islands, imposing glaciers, abandoned former whaling stations and historic centers, drifting icebergs and sea ice in Peninsula.
• Wildlife: elegant Albatros in the Falklands. Huge colonies of King Penguins, many Elephant Seals, large populations of Fur Seals and Macaroni Penguins in South Georgia. Also, hundreds of Gentoo Penguins, Adelie and Chinstrap and the majestic Humpback Whales in Peninsula.
• The treasures of the Weddell Sea.
• Educational discovery in the respect of environment.


Buenos Aires, Argentina

Day 1: Arrive Buenos Aires, Argentina
You will be met and transferred to your deluxe hotel. Remainder of the day is free.

Day 2: Buenos Aires Tour
Enjoy a full day tour of Buenos Aires, “Paris of South America”, arranged exclusively for Explor Cruises’ guests. Visit the unique neighborhoods of San Telmo, Recoleta, La Boca, Puerto Madero and Palermo. Lunch is included. This evening, you will be taken to a Dinner & Tango Show at Tango Porteño, Includes round trip transfers and a tango lesson of 1hr before the dinner. Return to your hotel late.

Day 3: Flight to Ushuaia – Embarkation
Transfer from your hotel to the city airport for your included flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia. Meet and transfer to ship. Capital of Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego province, Ushuaia lies in a bay opening into the Beagle Channel, at the country’s southernmost tip. Its colorful houses are framed against towering mountains, snow-capped in winter and summer alike.

Day 4: At Sea

Day 5: New Island – Grave Cove
This island with its distinctive jagged relief is located on the western edge of the Falkland Islands and is home to a tiny village of two families. A narrow pathway weaves around typical Falkland moorlands. Follow it and in under 20 minutes you’ll find yourself at the heart of a colony of southern rockhopper penguins, black-browed albatross and imperial shags.

Make your way through the turbulent Woolly Gut strait and emerge in the stillness of Grave Cove. Located in the northern edge of the Falkland Islands, this bay owes its name to the vestiges of whalers’ graves that overlook the beach. On the other side of the island you’ll find one of the largest gentoo penguin colonies in the area.

Days 6-7: At Sea

Day 8: South Georgia Island –  Salisbury Plain – Fortuna Bay
Salisbury Plain is home to one of the most unforgettable natural vistas of South Georgia. Formed by the retreat of Grace Glacier, the same majestic peaks that once awed Shackleton still tower over the surrounding land. At the heart of this wild refuge, on the beaches of the bay, lies a colony of 250,000 king penguins. Amidst this sea of black and orange heads, fur seals and their young can be spotted nosing their way through the crowd.

Situated at the foot of sharply-rising mountains, Fortuna Bay is a truly dazzling vision to behold. The bay itself bows inward to form a perfect crescent, indented by a torrent. During your excursion, you can follow in the footsteps of Ernest Shackleton or even encounter the 50,000 king penguin couples who call the island their home.

Gold Harbor – South Georgia Island

Day 9: South Georgia Island – Saint Andrews Bay – Grytviken
This bay bears a gift that is sure to enchant photographers. From the bay’s long grey-sand beach, home to abundant fur seals and elephant seals, you can easily access a vast glacial trough bordered by steep mountainsides and enclosed by Ross Glacier. Here, at the heart of this valley, lies the climax of your visit: the largest colony of king penguins on the South Georgia Islands. You’ll be witness to a surreal visual and auditory experience: entire hillsides covered with adult penguins dutifully going back and forth from land to water to feed their young.

The Grytviken stopover is a highlight of South Georgia Island. This former whaling station, now a ghost town, is set against a serene backdrop of ochre-colored earth.  Vestiges of the whaling industry are still very much present, particularly old whale bones and remnants of shipwrecks. Grytviken’s other historical point of interest is the grave of famous adventurer Sir Ernest Shackleton.

Day 10: South Georgia islands – Gold Harbor
Majestic glaciers with a bluish sheen, waterfalls that reflect the rays of the setting sun, pitch-black volcanic sand beaches: these are just a few of the wonders to be found in Gold Harbor’s landscape. This natural gem is blanketed by bright green tussocks and framed by snow-capped peaks. On this island where summer days are endless, the wildlife stays up with the sun. Fur seals, elephant seals and king penguins move about the island like tiny black dots along the landscape. Those humans who enter this kaleidoscope of colors and sensations do so as privileged and tolerated observers of the austral wildlife.

Days 11-12 – At Sea

Tabletop Icebergs

Day 13: Weddell Sea
Amidst the eerie stillness of the Weddell Sea, you’ll wend your way through a veritable labyrinth of majestic table icebergs. Sweeping ice platforms sculpt a landscape unlike any other, populated by fur seals, penguins, wandering albatross and other imposing seabirds. The Weddell seal, king of this realm, will welcome you to his territory with a haunting cry that pierces the surrounding silence. You’ll recognize him by his dark grey coat and spotted belly. Weddell seals have the impressive distinction of being able to stay underwater for more than an hour.

Day 14: Wilhelmina Bay
Between 1897 and 1899, Belgian explorer Adrien de Gerlache led an Antarctic expedition aboard the Belgica. There, he discovered a quiet, protected bay which he named in honor of the Dutch queen, Wilhelmina of Orange-Nassau. In this enchanting place, towering mountains reflect off of still waters, offering up a magnificent and colorful feast for the eyes.

Half Moon Island

Day 15: Deception Island – Half Moon Island
Situated just above the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, Deception Island is easily recognizable thanks to its distinctive horseshoe shape. The crater of this former volcano caved in 10,000 years ago and the resulting caldera was flooded, creating a natural harbor. Deception Island still bears traces of its past as a longtime hub of the whaling industry.

Nestled among the South Shetland Islands in the icy waters of the Antarctic, Half Moon plunges visitors into a surreal and mystical setting. Long, jagged coastlines alternate with gently sloping bays, overlooked by petrified volcanic pipes. Camara, a former Argentine research station built at the center of the island in 1953, still stands in the crook of a vast, crescent-shaped beach of large ash-colored pebbles battered by icy electric-blue waves.

DAYS 11-12: At Sea – Drake Passage
Cross  Drake Passage.

DAY 13: Ushuaia– Disembark
Transfer from ship to included flight from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires. Connect with flight home, or stay longer in Argentina.




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