Atlantic Odyssey Wildlife Cruise
Day 1: End of the World, Start of a Journey
Your voyage begins where the world drops off: Ushuaia, Argentina, reputed to be the southernmost city on the planet, located on the far southern tip of South America. Starting in the afternoon, you embark from this small resort town on Tierra del Fuego – nicknamed “The End of the World” – and sail the scenic, mountain-fringed Beagle Channel for the rest of the evening.
Days 2-5: Path of the Polar Explorers
Over the next two days on the Drake Passage, you catch a taste of life from the perspective of the polar explorers who first braved these regions: cool salt breezes, rolling waves, maybe even a fin whale blasting up a column of sea spray. After passing the Antarctic Convergence – Antarctica’s natural boundary, formed when north-flowing cold waters collide with warmer subantarctic seas – you are in the circum-Antarctic upwelling zone. Not only does the marine life change, the avian life changes too: A variety of albatrosses and petrels show up, along with Cape pigeons and southern fulmars.
Days 6-8: South Georgia Journey
Your aim is to visit some of the world’s top king penguin rookeries. This time of year you have a good chance of seeing these animals nesting on eggs, their chicks close by. The rookeries are overflowing, with waddling rush-hour traffic to and from the beach. Possible visits include: Salisbury Plain, St. Andrews Bay, Gold Harbour – Here you see not only the massive king penguin colony, but also elephant seals and limitless fur seal pups playing in the surf. Prion Island – A great location to watch wandering albatrosses. Grytviken – You have the opportunity to check out this abandoned whaling station, where king penguins now walk the streets and elephant seals lie around like they own the place – because they just about do. You might also see the South Georgia Museum as well as Shackleton’s grave. Cooper Bay – A great place for a Zodiac cruise, this bay also houses a rookery of macaroni penguins. King penguins, pintails, and giant petrels may also appear here.
Days 9-13: Once More to the Sea
A pleasant tailwind often accompanies the vessel through the westerlies, and on both sides of the Convergence fly vast numbers of Antarctic and Subantarctic seabirds.
Day 14: The Quest Continued
You first approach Gough Island for a Zodiac cruise in Quest Bay, weather permitting. Northern rockhopper penguins and Subantarctic fur seals are often seen here. In previous years it has been possible for the vessel to circumnavigate all but four miles of the 33-mile circumference of the island, taking in the scenery and unrivalled abundance of wildlife.
Days 15-17: Tristan da Cunha
The plan is to visit the settlement on the west side of this archipelago’s main island. Landings at Nightingale Island and Inaccessible Island – with their millions of seabirds ranging from yellow-nosed albatrosses to brown noddies – are also a priority. One day is reserved in case of bad weather, but please remember that nature determines the itinerary out here: Since beginning the Atlantic Odyssey cruise in 1998, adverse weather led to the cancellation of 35% of Tristan da Cunha landings.
Days 18-21: Subtropical Seas
Seabirds and dolphins indigenous to this region often follow the vessel.
Days 22-24: St. Helena Highlights
After landing at Jamestown, you have many opportunities to enjoy the local culture, pleasant climate, and endemic plants and birds of this remote island. One such activity is a visit to Longwood House, where Napoleon died in exile. You also have the chance to explore the island on your own – and snorkel the shallows, seeing multitudes of tropical and subtropical fish.
Days 25-26: Sailing the Ridge
Here you sail along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the submarine mountain range running about 16,000 kilometers (10,000 miles) from the Arctic Ocean to near the southern tip of Africa.
Days 27-28: Onward to Ascension
This dry volcanic island is a major home to the sooty tern (also known as the wideawake), whose colony here sometimes grows to over a million breeding pairs. You may get the chance for a hike to the richly vegetated top of this island, and a visit the shore to watch the green turtles laying eggs on the beach. In the evening, the vessel departs for Praia, Cape Verde, where you disembark.
Days 29-33: Crossing the Equator
Joining you across the Equator are Arctic terns and long-tailed skuas in their northbound spring migration.
Day 34: Praia, Cape Verde Islands
You disembark in Praia, the capital of the Cape Verde Islands, at 9:00 hours*. If you’re flying out on the night of April 30/May 1, you have the option of an additional trip to the island of Santiago. Here you can visit the historic Cidade Velha and its massive hillside fortress, built to defend against English raiders. Other sights include the oldest Christian church in the tropics, and the slave whipping post in the main square. Stroll the Praia streets and enjoy the variety of indigenous folk music spilling out of the tavern windows. *If you’re disembarking, you have access to hotel rooms where you can collect your luggage and freshen up before travelling to the airport – or back to your hotel, if you’re staying longer in Praia.