Remote. Untrammeled. Spectacular. Exploring Antarctica is one of the most exhilarating adventures on Earth. There are many reasons to go. See scores of penguins and whales. Fall under the spell of sculptural ice: an entire museum of colossal and magical ice forms defying description. And add the dashing history of the Heroic Age of Exploration. Over 50 years ago, Lars-Eric Lindblad took the first group of "citizen" explorers to Antarctica in 1966. Since then, the Lindblad family has operated hundreds of Antarctic expeditions. This is a level of “institutional” experience that ensures your safety and a rich encounter with the region that no one else can offer.
Epic Antarctica: From the Peninsula to the Ross Sea & Beyond
Discover four stunningly beautiful wilderness regions aboard the ultimate polar ship, providing unprecedented access, opening up unexplored opportunities in polar environments, and making polar travel safe, smooth, thrilling, and luxurious
See the big tabular icebergs of the Antarctic Peninsula, remote West Antarctica, and the spectacular Ross Ice Shelf
Explore seldom-seen subantarctic islands of New Zealand and Australia that are wildlife havens
Paddle a kayak in pristine bays, and Zodiac cruise amid the bergs
Observe endemic royal penguins, gentoo, and southern rockhopper penguins, and 100,000 pairs of king penguins on a single beach
Exploring Antarctica, the wildness of South Georgia, and the rugged Falklands should be a pinnacle event in any traveler's life. Key to your experience is our fleet. Top-tier Ice Class vessels, purpose designed and built to venture deep into the ice in comfort and safety. Go with an expedition team hand-picked for their knowledge of polar natural history and their ice skills. With state-of-the-art tools at your fingertips for unparalleled exploration. Observe the antics of penguins. Kayak ice-choked waters. Hike a hillside for a spectacular otherworldly view of massive ice sheets. Search for whales, and see leopard seals lounging on the ice. Go with the freedom to choose how you want to explore.
Very much enjoyed the presentation by the killer whale researchers and your efforts to support their work are laudable. Photo guidance and inspiration were HELPFUL. I actually learned things I could apply to future trips! Finally, your efforts to locate and maneuver to find wildlife added immensely to the experience.
Explore with seasoned expedition teams
See, do, and learn more by going with engaging experts who have been exploring this region for decades. Go with an expedition leader, naturalists, undersea specialist, National Geographic photographer and more.
Veteran expedition leaders are the orchestrators of your experience. Many have advanced degrees and have conducted research or taught for years. They have achieved expedition leader status because they possess the skills, experience and the depth of knowledge necessary to continually craft the best expedition possible for our guests.
Explore Antarctica with a diverse team of naturalists, many of them polar veterans, of a variety of specialties: zoology, biology, ornithology, geology, polar history, and more. Our guests consistently cite the expertise and engaging company of our staff as key reasons to repeatedly travel with us.
Travel and shoot with a bonafide National Geographic photographer. These top pros are at your side and at your service—providing advice, inspiration, tips, and slideshows. Access to photographers of this caliber will help you improve your skills and ensure you’ll go home with incredible photos.
Certified Photo Instructor
Every Antarctic expedition also offers an exclusive service—a Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic certified photo instructor. This naturalist is specially trained to help you become a better, more confident photographer—and to help you understand the movements of wildlife so you can create top shots.
A video chronicler accompanies every expedition shooting vivid HD footage—with no recycled footage ever—to provide you with a professionally edited and completely authentic memento of your expedition. Working during the day, and editing into the night, they have your DVD ready for preview prior to, and available to purchase, at disembarkation.
Our wellness program embodies the belief that nature is vitalizing and that wildness, as Thoreau famously said, supplies a tonic. Wellness Specialists are fully accredited and experienced licensed massage therapists, and are aboard every ship in the National Geographic-flagged fleet. They lead morning stretch class on the deck, aerobic walks ashore, kayak outings, and more.
It is a privilege to visit Antarctica, one of the planet’s most pristine places, and to this privilege, National Geographic Endurance, National Geographic Resolution, and National Geographic Explorer add the luxury of comfort—a quality of shipboard life and a philosophy of wellness designed to relax and rejuvenate body, mind, and spirit.
Making a Difference
Join a National Geographic BioBlitz on select South Georgia & the Falklands expeditions. Defined as a limited amount of time in a defined area, trying to find as many species as possible, it’s citizen science at its coolest in one of the planet’s most wildlife-rich locations. Guests will work with naturalists to collect and upload data on sub-Antarctic species. Since these islands get relatively few visitors, these contributions will matter.
Today the weather gods were pleased, sparing us from the driving rain and wind that can often batter Stanley. Making the most of the good weather we set out across the island to see as much as possible. The Gypsy Cove and Mount William hikes offered fantastic opportunities to take in the Falkland Island wildlife including views of Magellanic penguins, rock cormorants, and upland geese.
A visit to Long Island Farm and Stanley Growers, provided the perfect opportunity to learn more about the sheep farming heritage on the islands, the importance of peat in daily life, and the remarkable hydroponics that supplies the people of Stanley, as well as visiting tour vessels including the
National Geographic Explorer.
Our second day at sea from South Georgia turned out to be considerable brighter and calmer than the previous. Perhaps because of that, many more of us were around to witness the incredible variety of seabirds for which these waters are known. Presentations occupied most of our day, along with planning for the Falkland Islands and then back home. A lot of us used the time to reflect on all we’ve seen and experienced the last two weeks. In this day and age, spending a few days getting to one place is not very common. But after experiencing South Georgia, the jewel of the Southern Ocean, and the surprisingly beautiful and plentiful Falkland Islands, we all agreed it was worth the time and effort to get there!
Today began with a later-than-usual wake-up call as well as a favorable time change of the ship’s clocks—very welcome after a busy week in South Georgia, the enchanted isle. The day was filled with sumptuous meals and delightful presentations by the staff, our National Geographic photographer, and our guest speakers. After dinner, we were treated to a preview of the video chronicle of our adventures over the course of the trip.
As the fog lifted off the shoreline, the awesome sight and sound of South Georgia’s second-largest king penguin colony at Salisbury Plain came into view. At the height of the season, 60,000 pairs of penguins may raise their young here, with the total colony estimated at 250,000 individuals. Zodiacs zipped us ashore to the abundant welcoming committee that seemed pleased to see us arrive. The king penguins raced rings around the Zodiacs, chirping their welcome. Nearer shore, fur seal pups played in the surf, testing their bravado in the waters, ducking, diving, leaping, and swerving as the Zodiacs landed on the steep, pebbly beach.
Fur seals lined our way across the plain to the site of the colony, baring their teeth and barking before realizing we were bigger than they thought and deciding to retreat. As we neared the bulk of the colony, we could distinguish the young squeals from the adult calls, and those of us paying attention at last night’s recap tried to distinguish the female calls from the male. The young, brown oakum boys—miniature, brown fuzzballs among the sleek black, white, and orange elders— were protected in crèches toward the middle of the colony. Some oakum boys were being fed, some were looking for their feed, and others huddled together as they waited for their parents to come back from the water. It was such a privilege to spend a couple of hours at the colony. Many of us will be editing photos of our experience for a long time.
With impeccable timing, fog shrouded the ship just as we headed back on board to recharge our batteries, warm our hands, and sit down to a delightful lunch. As we ate, the ship repositioned closer to Prion Island where we had a rare chance to see nesting albatross up close.
Back in the Zodiacs, we enjoyed a tour of the Prion Island shoreline exposed by low tide. Curling fronds of kelp swirled in ever-changing circular patterns with the rise and fall of the waves. Fur seal pups peered out from high, rocky ledges while giant petrels grabbed a moment’s rest on the water. We then spotted a Viking boat on the horizon—our friends from
National Geographic Explorer
bringing hot cocoa to keep us warm in the damp afternoon.
During the night,
National Geographic Explorer
slowly made her way along the South Georgia coastline and entered Fortuna Bay just before daybreak. The wind conditions were better than forecast, but it was still a little murky outside—rainy with low clouds. Only the highest mountain peaks were visible, stark against the gray skies. Promising weather for us to retrace the last few miles of the Shackleton hike!
Guests interested in the hike gobbled and early breakfast and went ashore. We ascended a steep slope covered with tussock grass, then headed up a steadier and gradual rise over vegetation that was soon replaced by loose rock. With the wind at our backs, we made good progress and took in the surrounding landscape while thinking back to what Frank Worseley, Tom Crean, and Ernest Shackleton must have experienced as they neared their treasured goal: to reach help to rescue their three shipmates at Pegotty Bluff and the 22 men left under Frank Wild’s leadership on Elephant Island.
We passed Crean Lake and when we reached the high point of the walk, we spotted the Stromness Whaling Station in the distance and even further out in the bay, our ship! We made our way down a scree slope and ended our descent at the foot of the famous waterfall where the three men, no longer wanting to backtrack, hung their climbing rope from a rock and slid down the freezing-cold waters within 100 or so yards from the glacial plain that leads to the whaling station.
For guests left on the ship, breakfast was a more leisurely affair—until they heard an announcement of a possible blue whale sighting. It did indeed turn out to be a small blue whale and, thanks to the expert maneuvering of the ship, guests were able to get great views of this massive cetacean before heading for Stromness.
Once in Stromness Bay, we sighted Leith Whaling Station, the largest of the stations to operate on South Georgia and also a part of the Falkland Islands Conflict. The ship parked ridiculously close to the landing beach, where fur seal pups frolicked in the gentlest of surf. In no time, groups were ashore and off to do their different activities. Guests could, if they wished, participate in a BioBlitz—a citizen science project with the objective to record photographically all that we saw on our various walks.
Our undersea team also participated in this activity using plankton tows to look for evidence of microplastics—one of the scourges of time.
It was evident that guests took to this idea with great enthusiasm, and all the way up the glacial plain ending at the foot of the waterfall, orange jackets were stooped over as we sighted and photographed the many plants, lichens, mosses, birds, mammals, and even insects we saw along the way. Our photos from the BioBlitz will be shared with the South Georgia Heritage Trust to be included in their efforts to monitor invasive plant species on the island. We will also upload our photos from the BioBlitz to the iNaturalist website so the data is available to anyone who wishes to use it around the world.
In the afternoon, we headed out into windy and rough seas to Prion Island. Once there, however, it was decided that we would make another attempt tomorrow when the weather was a bit drier.
But this under no circumstances meant that we had the afternoon off! Before tea, we heard guest speaker Shelly Carson lecture on “Your Creative Brain” and Kerstin Langerberger gave a talk called “Life on South Georgia.” Our usual recap was followed by dinner and afterward, we met in the lounge to hear our own Doug Gualtieri and the Spice Boys shake up the old limbs on the dance floor.
It was a fantastic day—and what a lesson in humility. The bulk of the images taken during the BioBlitz were not the usual charismatic species but rather, those living organisms that we often overlook—plankton, mosses, lichens, and other plants. It was good to be reminded that the health of our planet depends on the well being of these species just as much as those that are more evident.
On my first visit to Antarctica, I didn’t sleep for two days, I was so mesmerized as our ship crunched through the sea ice. It was unending ice. The size, the shapes, the color.