Falkland Islands/South Georgia trip/cruise, October/November 2016

the Sea Spirit
My photo of the Sea Spirit taken on 30 October from our landing site in Right Whale Bay.
Here's a better view (taken in the Antarctic) from Cheesemans' web site.

I've been getting travel brochures from the Stanford Alumni Association for the past 30+ years...of course when you're working you can only drool. But in the fall of 2015 I received their announcement for this trip. I jumped on it at once...sure I'd like to get back to the Antarctic Peninsula...but I've been there and done more of that back in the late 80's when I was making trips to Palmer Station. I visited more places than most cruise ships go, while getting paid. But these sub-Antarctic islands were on my bucket list.

So I quickly signed up, sent in my deposit, and filled out all of the paperwork. But...in January 2016 Stanford told me that they didn't get enough signups so they were cancelling their involvement. But...they were passing my reservation on to the tour operator Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris for a limited time. So I ended up filling out all the paperwork again and resending my deposit. (As it turned out I would eventually learn that only 9 people signed up with Stanford, and I never met any of them. Cheesemans' did fill up the full 100-passenger list.)

The basics...my trip as I booked it, including a 1-week pre-trip extension, began when I left Denver airport on Wednesday 12 October 2016 on overnight flights to Santiago via Atlanta. I was in Santiago for 2 nights, on Friday we pre-trip folks had a tour of Santiago. On Saturday we flew to East Falkland on the weekly LAN Chile (LATAM) flight, via Punta Arenas. After a week visiting Sea Lion Island, Carcass Island, and Stanley on East Falkland, we boarded the Sea Spirit and headed for South Georgia. After a couple of weeks doing many island landings, we returned to the Falklands and did a couple of landings on islands there before heading off to Ushuaia where the trip ended.

Yes, I'm getting to the photos, but first some reference info:

Okay...my photos. There are lots of them and I'm still working on putting them up. So check back...

The captions are not visible from the collage of massed thumbnails, but click on any photo to see them. If you don't see captions click on the "i" icon.

As you know, I am neither a wildlife photographer nor a birder--although I enjoyed talking with and learning from these folks who seemed to have half their luggage as camera gear...multiple bodies, huge zoom lenses, fancy tripods, and special backpacks to put them all in. Me...an iPhone and a 2008 vintage Canon point-and-shoot. So I felt no need to lie on my stomach on a beach (perhaps amidst penguin you-know-what) attempting to get the perfect closeup shot of THAT bird. Not that I knew what the bird was either...and even if I asked someone, I didn't do my homework and commit the bird species name to my photo. So...as there WERE serious professional wildlife photographers along, you can see some of their fine work on these websites/blogs:

  • Randy Percy, a retired physician from Colorado Springs...he was my roommate for the "pre-trip" days on Sea Lion and Carcass Island. His wife Judy joined him for the cruise portion.
  • Kevin Dowie has a few excellent blog posts here.
  • Kitty Kono has lots of photos as well as a fresh new self-published book about the trip.
  • Ron Niebrugge, our Falklands pre-trip leader, also made frequent use of his camera throughout the trip/cruise.
  • Ron Gates has a number of great November blog posts with photos and stories from the cruise.
  • Artie Morris, a VERY serious bird photographer, will hopefully have more blog posts about the cruise when he gets home from South America on 25 December.

Oh, if you want to go (or go back), Cheesemans' has more trips to the Falklands and/or the Peninsula. Just saying...