Travellogue Falkland Islands, South Georgia and antarctic Peninsula January 2024

After our unfortunately unsuccessful attempt in 2022 (Corona!), we set off again on our trip with Poseidon Expeditions in January 2024. The flight connections had become a little more complicated and expensive in the meantime, so we took the long haul with Aerolineas Argentinas via Madrid to Ushuaia without an overnight stopover. The flight was relatively punctual, we collected our luggage in Buenos Aires to be on the safe side and checked it in again, which went without a hitch despite the early hour of 4am.

We spent the first night again at the Hotel Arakur with a view of Ushuaia and met our companions Peter and Karin there, with whom we had already spent the time in Argentina two years previously due to the last-minute cancellation.

On Sunday late afternoon, January 7, we embarked on the SEA SPIRIT and then crossed the Beagle Channel in a northeasterly direction to the Falkland Islands. Here we saw seabirds such as the Black-browed Albatross and the Giant Petrel for the first time. There were also several lectures, workshops and instructions, such as cleaning the equipment we had brought and provided.

Ushuaia Harbour
Sea Spirit
Falkland Islands

The SEA SPIRIT is a small, comfortable expedition ship with space for a maximum of around 100 guests. The official languages on board are English and German, all presentations and briefings are held in these languages, as we had some Chinese guests on board, also in their national language. There is Wi-Fi on board, which can be accessed from a private computer or smartphone anywhere on board. The landings with the accompanying Zodiacs and the respective shore excursions are generally dependent on local conditions and other events.

One of the effects of the bird flu that was unfortunately also circulating in Antarctica was the ban on sitting or lying down anywhere. Backpacks etc. were also not allowed to be put down, and the rubber boots provided on loan had to be cleaned and disinfected after each excursion to prevent the virus from being carried from one place to another.

On Tuesday, January 9th, we reached the Falkland Islands, a group of almost 750 islands in the southern Atlantic. Geographically they belong to South America, but are a British overseas territory. Here you can see moorland landscapes and coastlines where the flora and fauna form a link between Patagonia and Antarctica. There is an amazing variety of plants and birds, but probably the biggest attraction of the Falkland Islands are the penguins that live here and can be found on sandy beaches and sheep meadows.

Our first visit was to Saunders Island where, to our delight and surprise, we met our first penguins (four different species: Gentoo penguins, Rockhoppers, Magellanic penguins and King penguins). There was also an albatross colony on site. Taking photos proved to be quite difficult due to the strong wind, so a photo tripod would have been helpful ...

Immediately afterwards, we headed towards West Point to visit the albatross colony there, which we were able to observe from a relatively short distance after a walk of around an hour. These breed together with rockhopper penguins in a beautiful landscape, unfortunately the light was very bright due to the time of day. (Temperature at approx. 8°).

Gentoo penguin
Carcass Island
Westpoint breeding-colony

In the evening we crossed over to Port Stanley, the British capital of the Falkland Islands. The next morning it was windy and rainy again and we were taken by bus to Gypsy Cove, where we enjoyed a beautiful view after a short walk. There were royal terns and a few Magellanic penguins to see. In Stanley itself we saw the first sea lions, night herons and Commerson's dolphins. Everything is close together in Stanley, the Falkland Museum, the cathedral with the whale arch and the souvenir stores and pubs.

Due to the weather forecast, the planned crossing to South Georgia was postponed by one day (too much wind, resulting in high swell) and we observed Magellanic and gentoo penguins on Carcass Island, as well as oystercatchers, cormorants and the first elephant seal.

Humpback whale
Cormoran, Shag rocks

On Friday morning, January 12th, we started our crossing in the most beautiful sunshine, a day later everything was gray again, the waves were about 5m high. On Sunday we passed Shags Rock, a rock formation that is frequented by seabirds, especially cormorants/scarlets. We were now officially in Antarctic waters. In preparation, our clothing was thoroughly cleaned again so as not to introduce any plant seeds into the sensitive ecosystem. Alongside the ship, we were able to admire and photograph the first whales, especially humpback whales.

On January 15, we finally made our first landing on South Georgia, which lies in the Southern Ocean between the cold Arctic waters and the warmer waters to the north. These contrasting influences contribute significantly to the extraordinary beauty of nature, as they create a unique environment for marine life and terrestrial flora and fauna.

Three excursions were planned for the first day, starting in Grytviken. In the historic whaling station, the house of the former station manager has been converted into a museum. The cemetery with the final resting place of the legendary polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton could not be visited due to the bird flu, unfortunately there had been an increase in deaths among the fur seals in the last few days before our arrival. King penguins and gentoo penguins were also on site again.

No shore leave was allowed at Godthul, but there was a Zodiac trip as an alternative and then a tour of Stromness in the evening before nightfall.


On Tuesday, 16.01.2024, we planned to visit Gold Harbour, a small bay at the eastern end of South Georgia, known for its many gentoo penguins, even more king penguins and elephant seals. Unfortunately, there were so many animals on the beach that we were not allowed to land there; instead, we were offered a Zodiac cruise close to the coastline.

There was also a Zodiac trip in the afternoon at Cooper Bay, the planned barbecue in the stern of our ship in the middle of Drygalski Fjord unfortunately had to be canceled because the weather was extremely bad (dense fog).

On Wednesday we finally saw the longed-for golden crested penguins ("maccaronis") in 1° temperatures and sleet during a Zodiac excursion, and in the afternoon there was a tour of the former whaling station at Leith Harbour.

During the crossing on the following two days, we again listened to interesting lectures, thoroughly cleaned our equipment and saw wandering albatrosses and other seabirds as well as several humpback whales.

Gould Harbour
Cooper Bay
Hercules Bay

On Saturday, 20.01.2024, we finally reached Elephant Island, which is part of the South Shetland Islands and was named after the former abundance of elephant seals. The plan was to go ashore here, but unfortunately, despite the good weather, it was not possible to land due to the swell.

The following day, we finally saw the little Adelie penguins on Gourdin Island. We also saw many chinstrap and gentoo penguins, all of which were breeding there or raising their offspring. On a subsequent Zodiac trip, we saw leopard seals, Wedell and crabeater seals, and finally penguins on an iceberg.

In the afternoon, we then visited the basalt rocks of Brown Bluff. The cliff face is made of rust-colored rock, the rocks were part of a huge volcano about 1 million years ago. Adelie and gentoo penguins were also breeding here.

Gourdin Island
Brown Bluff
Sea spirit

Then, on January 22, a highlight on the Antarctic Peninsula: we visited Mikkelsen Bay, a rugged little bay with a gentoo penguin colony, and some Wedell seals were also there. We then sailed in bright sunshine on the Zodiacs through Cierva Cove, a protected area where landings are not permitted. Sun, blue sky, icebergs, animals on top and then the turquoise-colored reflections depending on the incidence of light - a wonderful day. In the evening, we enjoyed a barbecue on deck 5 and one of the rare beautiful sunsets.

North of Antarctica, we then spent the last day off the volcanic island of Deception Island, where entire populations of whales and seals were almost wiped out at the beginning of the 19th century. We took the Zodiac to Bailey Head, where thousands of pairs of chinstrap penguins breed, a great contrast to the black lava sand. The journey continued to Neptune's Window and Neptune's Bellows, finishing with a final shore leave in Telefon Bay.

On our way
Cierva Cove
Mikkelsen Bay
Deception Island
Chinstrap penguins
Last day

Despite the weather forecast, the two-day return journey via the Drake Passage was fortunately relatively calm, including the entrance to the Beagle Channel. We reached Ushuaia on time, where we left the ship the next morning and, after waiting several hours at the airport, flew to Buenos Aires and then on to Frankfurt via Rome.

Traveling to Antarctica is often described as a privilege for any visitor. For most, it is probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and unforgettable. Many rules of conduct and obligations were explained to us in advance, and we also received training during the trip. It was a matter of course for us to adhere to the IAATO guidelines, especially in this really difficult situation where decisions had to be made on a daily basis as to whether visitors could go ashore without endangering the animals living there. It is not certain whether the measures are all effective, but we have tried to leave our mark as invisibly as possible.

Special thanks go to the entire crew of the SEA SPIRIT for their great service and to the expedition team for the exciting presentations and discussions. We will be back, next time with a new destination!