The Polar region, for the naturalist and wildlife photographer, is surely the ultimate destination. Once deemed so removed from civilisation that men traded their lives to witness it, is now safely and comfortably accessible on modern vessels for us to access, witness and photograph.
In collaboration with Joseph van Os Photo Safaris (JVOPS), this amazing photographic expedition is offered by C4 Photo Safaris and Iconic Images International.
Joseph Van Os’ values sit very comfortably with C4 Photo Safaris. We are collaborating with JVOPS because of their common sense approach to pricing, their expertise and experience in catering for dedicated photographic groups within expeditions. This expedition focusses solely on wildlife, access and photography, an unprecedented combination.
Click on the Gallery tab to have look at some of the extraordinary images taken in this Photographic wonderland.
Our Epic South Georgia 2019 photography odyssey is an exclusive charter, and we direct all aspects of the cruise, so photography and wildlife observation are second to no other activity aboard ship. Once at South Georgia, travel time from location to location is very short, so we waste little time in transit. We usually reposition at night and our photography experience at these locations allows for virtually comprehensive coverage of the seasonal wildlife and rugged snowy landscapes. On these full days with only one landing, logistics will not require all participants to leave the shore, and optional bag lunches extend your shore time, weather permitting.
On board, you have full access to JVOPS specialist polar region expedition leaders and presenters. This is in addition to your host Shem Compion and Denis Glennon – a very unique combination in the one trip. The expedition offers you the very best opportunities to capture the iconic images of one of the remotest part of the planet – be prepared to be overwhelmed by one of the great wonders of the natural world – all within a few meters of your lens. For the naturalist and wildlife photographer, South Georgia is surely the ultimate destination.
The expedition is purposefully timed very early in the season. The reasons for this are that we will be at South Georgia when occasional snowfall on the beaches is likely - the sight of tens of thousands of king penguins in the snow with serrate mountain and towering glacier backgrounds is breath-taking. Southern elephant seals are pupping and the gigantic bull beachmaster seals are locked in titanic combat on the beaches - a spectacular event most visitors later in the season usually miss! In October, aggressive bull Antarctic fur seals are still mostly at sea, which allows us access to nesting areas of gray-headed albatrosses and light-mantled sooty albatrosses (that are usually impossible, later). The Antarctic fur seal population has grown so large that it is now often unmanageable to land on many beaches later in the season due to the increasing number of the dangerous aggressive bulls. In October, Prion Island is open to visitation and we photograph wandering albatrosses there. It closes to visitors later in November.
Despite its extreme isolation, South Georgia ranks among the most vital breeding oases for one of the world’s greatest wildlife concentrations. Along the coastal fringe and on a scattering of small islands, stunning colonies of tens of thousands of king penguins, macaroni penguins and isolated assemblages of wandering albatrosses cover beach and tussock.
Join us as we explore the wildlife paradise of South Georgia, plus the remote Falkland Islands.
Departing from Ushuaia, Argentina the first stop is the Falkland Islands. Here, you will surprisingly find a relatively warm climate where an abundance of unusual wildlife thrives. Sixty species of migratory birds and the rare rockhopper penguin inhabit these islands. The Falklands are not to be dismissed, the photographic and wildlife opportunities on these islands are diverse and iconic. Wind swept beaches with king penguins and surfing Gentoo penguins are some of the highlights, while the black-browed albatross colonies are a sight to behold, with thousands upon thousands nesting within a few meters of you and your camera.
The expedition continues through the Antarctic convergence to the pristine island of South Georgia. Towering glacier-covered mountains are merely the backdrop to spectacular wildlife sightings including rookeries of the pompous king penguin, several seal species and the laughable macaroni penguin.
It is the place where superlatives are born. The pinnacle and the zenith of nature’s creation - there are no adequate words to describe the awesome, wild beauty which is South Georgia. This phenomenal sub-Antarctic island - 102 miles long and 24 miles wide, a mere speck in the Southern Ocean, is crowned by a wreath of flowing glaciers covering half of its expanse. The craggy scenery of South Georgia is no less spectacular than if the Alps had been plunged recklessly into the tempestuous South Atlantic.
More than two million Antarctic fur seals - 95 percent of the world’s population - pile onto the island each summer, and half the world’s population of southern elephant seals comes to breed on South Georgia’s beaches.
Millions of penguins make South Georgia their home and, in some places, complete hillsides are covered with breeding birds. South Georgia has several spectacular and internationally renowned king penguin colonies, including Saint Andrew’s Bay and Salisbury Plain. Four southern hemisphere albatross species return here to breed, including the enormous wandering albatross. With its 11-foot wingspan, the wandering albatross is a truly immense bird, and South Georgia is home for a significant portion of the world’s declining population. Under the cover of darkness to avoid predators, tens of millions of other seabirds - diving petrels, storm petrels, White-chinned and blue petrels, and prions - return each night to the nest. Most of the small offshore islands are honeycombed with their underground burrows.
If you’ve dreamed of visiting South Georgia, or longed to return to its rugged shores, this Epic South Georgia 2019 photo tour offers an incredible opportunity to experience this fabulous island of penguins and ice for ten days of unparalleled photography. Our dedicated photo cruise visits the island’s most prolific wildlife habitats and scenic landscapes. We make shore landings primarily on the island’s northeast coast that teems with wildlife and photo opportunities.
And, finally, our group of 20 participants is part of only 78 participants on this expedition, all catering to photographers and nature lovers, less than half the size of most other cruises that visit the sub-Antarctic. Think of what that means in terms of the low number of people on board, our speed in getting to shore, and your ability to photograph and observe wildlife without scores of red-jacketed tourists in your frame. It is a rare opportunity!
Our sturdy, repurposed, research-expedition ship allows us to travel comfortably while journeying to this magical land of penguins, mountains and glaciers. We carry a fleet of Jacques Cousteau-designed Zodiac landing craft, allowing us to set foot on very isolated shores. Perfectly suited to expedition cruising, these nimble crafts enable passengers to travel in small groups and facilitate visits to some of the most spectacular wildlife concentrations in the world.
As with all voyages, safety is our top priority. For that reason, weather, ice or other conditions may require a change to the planned itinerary and shore excursions but that is half the fun of Polar Region exploring. Predictability is a term that has no relevance in this environment.
Together we have created a “top-drawer” photography workshop within a “first class” Polar Region expedition. Of course, you will also have the advantage of having full excess to specialist polar region expedition leaders and presenters - a unique combination in this one trip.
This far-reaching expedition to the islands of the South Atlantic Ocean, means you have time for your photography to increase in leaps and bounds and at the same time allow you revel in 24 days of endless photographic opportunities as you are guided and assisted by the professional photographers on board.
This South Georgia adventure is crafted to be everything you’ve hoped for – and more. Yet this expedition is not a once-in-a-lifetime trip. One trip in a lifetime to South Georgia could never be enough!
Throughout the expedition we will have access to:
Depart from your home country.
Arrive in Ushuaia, Argentina. The hotel tonight is included in the tour fee.
The morning is free to explore the southernmost city in the world. An optional bus tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park with an asado (barbecue) lunch is available. Stores and shops in easy walking distance from our hotel are open, presenting a chance to stock up on some personal “snacks” or purchase forgotten items. In the late afternoon, we board our ship the MV Ushuaia and set sail to the Falkland Islands traversing the famous Beagle Channel. (BD)
We start our journey following the “Scotia Arc,” traveling with the prevailing current to the Falklands. We see a variety of birds, including our first ship-following black-browed and wandering albatrosses and hundreds of petrels and other “tubenoses.” On all “at sea” days throughout the cruise, there are discussions on photography, digital workflow, and natural history, as well as inspiring nature photo presentations. Plus, if wind conditions are favourable, great bird flight shots can be made on deck. (All meals are included while aboard ship.)
The first landing of our voyage takes place on Sea Lion Island situated 10 miles southeast of East Falkland - the largest island in the Falkland Archipelago. A sheep farm for almost 100 years, Sea Lion Island is now a fantastic ecological reserve that provides great opportunities to photograph nesting gentoo penguins, Falkland steamer ducks, ruddy-headed geese and huge elephant seals. Peale’s dolphins escort our Zodiacs to the beach and, with luck, a pod of orcas can be observed close to shore attracted by a potential meal of seals or penguins. Our one-day schedule here allows us to break up the crossing time to South Georgia and we will return to the Falklands for two more days on our return trip.
Departing the Falklands, our ship crosses the Scotia Sea. Although we are far from land, there is much to see, on the deck or the bridge, if you are an active wildlife observer. Many birds follow the ship. Whales are a good possibility. Numerous leader presentations prepare us for the landings to come. Our course takes us across the Antarctic Convergence, the invisible boundary between the cold Antarctic waters and the warmer currents flowing from the South Atlantic. We start to see the first icebergs. Our next landfall is South Georgia, some 800 miles from the Falklands. Experiencing advantageous weather, we arrive at South Georgia the evening of Day 8 with a possible shore landing.
With favourable crossing conditions, we start our photography in earnest on Day 9. The freezing effects of the Antarctic continent - 1,000 miles to south-dominate South Georgia’s climate. Its landscape, reminiscent of the last ice age, is dotted with vast glaciers, meltwater streams, alluvial beaches and occasional offshore icebergs. The topography offers incredible landscape photography prospects.
Millions of penguins make the island their home and, in some places, complete hillsides are covered with them. There are more king penguins on South Georgia than on any other island on Earth and we visit their enormous colony - the incomparable Salisbury Plain - for two very full days of photography.
A quarter of a million albatrosses return here each year, including the spectacular wandering albatross. With its 10-foot wingspan, the wandering albatross is a truly immense bird, and South Georgia is home to half the world’s population. Under the cover of darkness to avoid predators, an estimated 10 million other seabirds - shearwaters, petrels and prions - return each night to the nest. Most of the small offshore islands are honeycombed with their underground burrows. Now, after an innovative rat eradication program, the South Georgia seabird colony is expected to expand by 100 million birds over the next several years!
More than 4 million Antarctic fur seals - 95 percent of the world’s population - pile onto the island later in the summer. The total population is thought to be increasing by ten percent each year! We are here early enough to miss the highest density of the aggressive bull seals and we should be able to reach the usually “inaccessible due to aggressive seals” nest sites of gray-headed albatrosses. Half the world’s population of southern elephant seals also comes to breed on South Georgia’s beaches. The largest of all seals, males can be over 20 feet (6m) long and weigh 8,800 pounds (4,000kg) or more. We are here at the height of the mating/fighting season - making for truly exciting photo opportunities!
Our ten days at South Georgia should allow us time to locate and photograph most of the more unusual nesting species, such as macaroni penguins, light-mantled sooty albatrosses and southern giant petrels, and give us time to find the best possible photo situations in several of the vast king penguin colonies. Potential landings include Salisbury Plain and Prion Island in the Bay of Isles for king penguins and wandering albatrosses, and a day each at wildlife-packed St. Andrews Bay and Cooper Bay for good measure. We have an extensive amount of flexibility built into our schedule and we direct our activities toward the best photographic situations possible. The experience is exceptional.
Our nature and photography lectures continue while at sea toward the Falklands. The photographic potential for flight photography of wandering and black-browed albatrosses, northern and southern giant petrels, and Cape petrels is excellent during this crossing.
Saunders, West Point and Carcass Islands on the north-west side of the Falklands round out our trip’s photo opportunities. The “Neck” on Saunders features a large gentoo penguin colony with a throng of these photogenic birds riding the surf along with black-and-white Commerson’s dolphins. Oystercatchers and steamer ducks parade along the beach while, on a nearby slope, rockhopper penguins and black-browed albatrosses are just starting their breeding season.
Carcass Island and West Point Islands are home to camera-friendly colonies of Magellanic penguins and cheeky striated caracaras. Abundant ducks and small birds are found on Carcass since the island does not have introduced rats. West Point has an albatross colony plus abundant caracaras, turkey vultures and black-crowned night herons. We start our homeward voyage by late afternoon of Day 23.
Today we are at sea en route to Ushuaia.
Arriving in Ushuaia, we clear Customs, disembark the ship and transfer to the airport to depart for home. (B)
The USHUAIA has been refurbished to accommodate a maximum of 90 passengers in 46 comfortable cabins and suites. Originally built for the United States agency NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration), the ice-strengthened polar vessel USHUAIA is very well appointed and provides ample deck space and an open bridge policy. The full complement of inflatable landing craft ensures superb landings and wildlife viewing opportunities on the otherwise inaccessible coastline.
All cabins include ample storage space. Public areas feature a large dining room (one sitting), an open-plan observation lounge / lecture room with modern multimedia equipment, bar and a well-stocked library. There is also a changing room and a small infirmary. Our expert captain, officers and crew are highly experienced in Antarctic navigation and have a great love of nature. We provide a specialist team of international expedition leaders and lecturers, all extremely knowledgeable, enthusiastic, helpful and dedicated to the protection of the environment. Our chefs prepare excellent cuisine including many local specialties and the bar is well-stocked with carefully selected wines and spirits.
FOUR DECKS - DINING ROOM (ONE OPEN SEATING) - OBSERVATION LOUNGE / LECTURE ROOM, BAR & LIBRARY - PANORAMA DECK - GIFT SHOP - INFIRMARY - ZODIACS
Costs of Cabins
|CABIN TYPE||COST P/P SHARING
||USD $ 15 995
||USD $ 30,390.50|
|Standard plus Twin
||USD $ 16 995||USD $ 32,290.50|
||USD $ 17 995||USD $ 34,190.50|
|Superior Twin||USD $ 18 995||USD $ 36,090.50|
Maximum 20 clients
A first deposit of 25% of the cost of the selected cabin together with a completed Registration Form.
A second deposit of 25% of the cost on or before 13 Dec 2018.
A final amount of 50% of the cost on or before 4 May 2019.
Emergency evacuation insurance is MANDATORY for this tour.
Falklands Islands is the nearest evacuation location
Due to the extreme remoteness of the destinations in the itinerary, your travel insurance policy must include a minimum US$500,000 of emergency evacuation/medical coverage, including evidence of cover of pre-existing medical conditions (if applicable).
If non-US or Canadian domiciled passengers are unable to obtain the above mentioned level of emergency evacuation/medical insurance, in their country of residence, this may be addressed by purchasing two separate travel insurance policies:
(i) A ‘normal’ travel insurance policy purchased in your country of residence which covers risks such as cancellation costs, loss of photographic equipment, loss of personal items, etc.
(ii) A specific ‘Rescue Travel Insurance’ policy available from Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance which cover non-US citizens for the required emergency evacuation/medical cover. This ‘Rescue Travel Insurance’ policy must be purchased from Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance within 14 days of registration, by participants requiring pre-existing medical conditions to be insured. Medical conditions arising within and including 45 days prior to departure will not be covered. This policy includes the emergency evacuation coverage required for this tour. Participants purchasing travel insurance other than the above will be required to confirm that a minimum of US$500,000 of emergency evacuation is included in their policy.
C4 Photo Safaris is using the JVOPS the Registration Form for the tour (instead of our usual registration form).
Please note, as explained above, if you are a non-USA or non-Canadian resident, the insurance policy offered on the JVOPS Registration Form, CANNOT be used by you. Simply sign and date the section “I will purchase my own travel insurance”, on the form.
It is very important that you read and understand the information on pages 2, 3, 4 & 5 of the JVOPS Registration Form, prior to signing this “Enrolment Conditions Agreement & Release & Assumption of Risk” document.
Please contact us for these relevant documents and forms on firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Depart from your home country.
Arrive in Ushuaia, Argentina. The hotel tonight is included in the tour fee.
At sea for the coming days as we explore the Falklands (Malvinas), South Georgia and Antarctica.
Disembarkation in Ushuaia, Argentina.