Antarctica is surely the ultimate destination! The scenic settings are as magnificent as any on earth, and the scale of nearly everything is grand, to say the least. Complementing these astounding vistas are vast colonies of majestic penguins, brash skuas, giant petrels, weird sheathbills, somnolent seals and feeding whales that all add life to the region’s stark and amazing beauty.
Our voyage traverses some of the most interesting areas in the Southern Ocean; notably the Falkland and South Georgia Islands, both of which are renowned as among the richest of all Subantarctic islands. South Georgia’s rugged beauty is worthy of Antarctica itself, while the Falkland Islands are better known as the battlegrounds for the 1982 Anglo-Argentine War. Several days are spent at sea, cruising from one island group to the next until we find ourselves at the very tip of the icy continent itself. These crossings provide thrilling pelagic birding, with huge numbers of albatrosses, petrels, prions, skuas and other seabirds making a daily appearance. Cetaceans are also regular, ranging from the largest whales to the striking Hourglass and Commerson’s Dolphins.
This journey to Antarctica is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and cannot come more highly recommended!
|DAY 1||Arrival in Ushuaia, boarding ship and departure|
|DAY 2||At sea northeast toward the Falkland Islands|
|DAY 3||Falkland Islands; West Point and Carcass Islands|
|DAY 4||Falkland Islands; Port Stanley|
|DAYS 5 & 6||At sea between the Falkland Islands and South Georgia|
|DAYS 7 TO 9||South Georgia; planned landings at Salisbury Plain, St Andrew’s, Fortuna and Stromness Bays, Gold Harbour, Prion Island and Grytviken|
|DAYS 10 TO 12||At sea towards Antarctica and possibly Elephant Island|
|DAYS 13 TO 16||Antarctica and the South Shetland Islands|
|DAYS 17 & 18||At sea in the Drake Passage|
|DAY 19||Return to Ushuaia and disembarkation|
The above schedule is approximate and depends on sea, ice and weather conditions and other factors.
Although Rockjumper has journeyed to Antarctica annually, this will be the second time since 2008 that we are taking a full Antarctic charter. We will have a team of ABA, Rockjumper Birding and ORYX Photographic tour leaders aboard the comfortable Akademik Ioffe, one of the best rated small vessels doing this classic route. Our voyage will be the first of the season, which besides offering pristine snowscapes, will mean that we will encounter displaying penguins and other breeding birds, as well as duelling Southern Elephant Seal beachmasters (these giants are usually gone by late November when most expeditions come south). However, the main reason for our early season departure is to maximise our chances of finding the holy grail of the Antarctic; the Emperor Penguin.
We have designed our cruise route to ensure we have time to head through the Antarctic Sound, and as far into the Weddell Sea as ice and weather conditions will allow us, to search for the Emperors here, and get as close as we can to their breeding colony on Snow Hill Island. The other advantage of this early season cruise is a lower cost structure; and this being our own charter, we will be able to ensure our landings will give us the best birding and photographic opportunities possible. We look forward to sharing this adventure of a lifetime with you.
DAY 1 ARRIVAL IN USHUAIA, BOARDING SHIP AND DEPARTURE
This afternoon, we board our ship and begin our journey eastwards toward the Falkland Islands. As we leave the scenic harbour of the world’s most southern city, we enter the famous Beagle Channel. Forming the boundary between Argentina and Chile, we will have rugged cliffs and islands on either side of us and our birding will begin in earnest! We will look out for both Flying and the flightless Fuegian Steamer Ducks, Upland Goose, Great Grebe, Rock and Imperial Shags, Dolphin Gull, Chilean Skua and South American Tern. Even the mighty Andean Condor has been seen here on previous Rockjumper cruises. We may well encounter our debut penguins in the form of Magellanic; but once we enter the open ocean, we will begin our lessons in pelagic bird identification. Here we will meet the first of many Black-browed Albatross, Cape and Whitechinned Petrels, Southern Giant Petrel and Sooty Shearwater, and we will also keep alert for Magellanic Diving Petrel as we enjoy our first watery sunset.
DAY 2 AT SEA NORTHEAST TOWARD THE FALKLAND ISLANDS
We’ll watch for seabirds and marine mammals from the bridge and the stern, where albatrosses and giant petrels should be following our ship.
Spectacular Wandering Albatrosses should make their first appearances, along with Grey-headed and Black-browed Albatrosses, White-chinned Petrel, Great Shearwater and Slender-billed Prion. Wilson’s Storm Petrel is abundant, and we will scour the masses for the rarer Black-bellied and Greybacked Storm Petrels. While sorting out the Northern Giant Petrels from the Southern species, we will also become familiar with all the commoner petrels in order to notice any rarities that may appear.
Dusky and the localised Peale’s Dolphin may put in an appearance; and if we are lucky, we might be treated to a sighting of the rare Dwarf Minke Whale, one of the many possible mammal prizes of this adventure. In addition, information-packed, onboard lectures will serve as entertainment during some of the crossings.
DAY 3 FALKLAND ISLANDS; WEST POINT AND CARCASS ISLANDS
This morning, we will wake up in the Falkland Islands! Whilst in these waters, we will hope for Atlantic Yellow-nosed and Sooty Albatrosses and Atlantic Petrel, three species typical of this more temperate ocean. We will spend the entire day on the fascinating western side of the archipelago. Our first stop will likely be West Point Island, with its vast rookeries of Southern (Western) Rockhopper Penguin; while South American Sea Lion, South American Fur Seal and Peale’s and noisy Commerson’s Dolphins are likely in the surrounding waters (the latter known locally as “Puffing Pigs” due to their load huffing noises). Blackish Cinclodes should be waiting for us at the dock as we land, and here we usually also find a nesting pair of Blackish Oystercatcher and a pair of Falkland Steamer Ducks. Other birds occurring here include Austral Thrush, Dark-faced Ground Tyrant, Black-chinned Siskin and Long-tailed Meadowlark. We will also carefully scan flocks of geese to find the rare Ruddy-headed Goose. We should come across confiding Striated Caracaras on the lovely hike to a Black-browed Albatross colony, the main objective for this morning. Here we will soak up the beauty of the spectacular wildlife on view; thousands of Black-browed Albatrosses nesting on a magnificent cliff; pairs in display and a continuous stream of individuals landing and taking off, all at touching distance – a truly incredible sight! As if that isn’t enough, entertaining Southern Rockhopper Penguins also nest among the albatrosses.
After lunch back on board, we plan to proceed to the pristine Carcass Island, which supports the highest diversity and abundance of land and waterbirds in the Falklands. Our explorations here will seek out Magellanic and Gentoo Penguins, Rock and Imperial Shags, the lovely Dolphin Gull, the aptly-named Kelp Goose that forages in the beds of giant kelp, Correndera Pipit, the lovely White-bridled Finch, Grass Wren and the endemic Cobb’s Wren, amongst other species. The approachability of these birds is remarkable, and superb photographic opportunities can be expected. In the late afternoon, we will steam towards Stanley.
DAY 4 FALKLAND ISLANDS; PORT STANLEY
The roughly 2,000 people inhabiting the historic town of Stanley represent about 80% of the population of the entire Falkland Islands. Our visit will give perspective on the history of British settlement of the islands, plus the 1982 Anglo-Argentine War in which Argentinean forces invaded but were subsequently defeated and expelled by the British.
We will explore various birding sites in the vicinity, and besides looking for species we may already have seen, such as the endemic Falkland Steamer Duck, White-bridled Finch and Black-chinned Siskin, we will try find additions to our list. These may include Two-banded and the attractive Rufous-chested Plover, Brown-hooded Gull and South American Snipe. Time will also be available to explore the museums, shipwrecks, historical trails and shops of Stanley. In the afternoon, we begin our multi-day cruise to dramatic South Georgia.
“The Rockjumper guide was a big hit with those onboard. The obsessed birders appreciated having a bird expert who would lead the quest to see everything!” – LH
DAYS 5 & 6 AT SEA BETWEEN THE FALKLAND ISLANDS AND SOUTH GEORGIA
For the seabird enthusiast, these are some of the most exciting waters in the world. As we cruise from the Falklands to South Georgia, we cross the Antarctic Convergence, where the warmer, saline water from the north meets the colder and less salty Antarctic water. This is a very rich feeding ground for seabirds and marine mammals, attracting large volumes of wildlife from distant breeding islands and waters. Though the Convergence attracts birds from both north and south, we will notice a shift of species and relative numbers between the waters on either side of the Convergence. Albatrosses and petrels will predominate here. In addition to the species already noted, we are likely to see Royal Albatross (usually both the Northern and Southern species are observed), Light-mantled Albatross (arguably the most attractive of all albatross), Southern Fulmar, both Northern and Southern Giant Petrels, Soft-plumaged, White-headed and Blue Petrels, Antarctic Prion, Grey-backed and Black-bellied Storm Petrels and Common Diving Petrel. We will also look for rarer prizes, such as Kerguelen, Grey and Great-winged Petrels, and albatrosses from the other side of the Subantarctic.
DAYS 7 TO 9 SOUTH GEORGIA; PLANNED LANDINGS AT SALISBURY PLAIN, ST ANDREW’S, FORTUNA AND STROMNESS BAYS, GOLD HARBOUR, PRION ISLAND AND GRYTVIKEN
As we approach South Georgia, the marine avifauna is dominated increasingly by the species breeding there. Given the enormous numbers of seabirds nesting on South Georgia and its surrounding islets, this is not surprising. Although this island lies south of the Antarctic Convergence, its waters don’t freeze in winter, meaning it can support life throughout the year. As a result, vast numbers of birds and pinnipeds live here year round – over 500,000 pairs of King Penguins call this island home, and walking through their packed colonies is without a doubt one of the single greatest wildlife experiences on the planet. In fact, the area around Salisbury Plain is believed to have the highest density of wildlife of anywhere on Earth!
We have three full days to explore this mountainous, glaciated island. So stark, but home to such mind-bogglingly abundant and exciting wildlife. All landings will be weather permitting, but we will make every effort to explore the Salisbury Plain, where beyond the black sand beach, lies one of the world’s largest King Penguin colonies. In addition, we plan a landing at St Andrew’s Bay, where an even bigger King Penguin colony exists.Nearby is also the breeding grounds for Light-mantled Albatross, Whitechinned Petrel, Snowy Sheathbill, Brown Skua and Antarctic Tern.
The beaches heave with South American Fur Seal, but one of our special targets of this early season voyage will be to watch enormous Southern Elephant Seal beachmasters battling for supremacy. These enormous animals, the largest species in the order Carnivora, reach weights of up to 4,000 kg (8,800 lb) and lengths of 5.8 m (19 ft). Their large proboscis, which gives them their name, allows them to roar extraordinarily loudly. This, combined with their fierce fighting, result in an incredible spectacle to experience.
“All in all, it truly was/is the trip of a lifetime, and it tugs on my heart to want to return – very very well done!” – LM
We also plan to visit Grytviken, the whaling station where the largest individual animal known to have lived on earth, a huge Blue Whale specimen, was butchered. Here we will visit the South Georgia Museum, remnants of the whaling station and the grave of the famed Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. Of course, birds and pinnipeds are also resident, and photographic opportunities will be breathtaking throughout (Please bear in mind, that throughout Antarctica and the Subantarctic, landings are subject to the weather conditions; alternatives are usually available when winds and surf are unfavourable at a planned site).
Other birds we seek during these three unforgettable days include South Georgia Diving Petrel, the endemic South Georgia Shag, inquisitive Snowy Seathbills, the Subantarctic race of Brown Skua and Antarctic Tern. The endemic South Georgia Pipit, the world’s most southern passerine, was completely restricted to small offshore islands, but great news is that it has now expanded due to the eradication of rats from South Georgia, and is now far more easily located than before. Over 3 million pairs of Macaroni Penguin breed on the island, but are nowhere near as obvious as the Kings, but we will no doubt encounter them. Another target is the “South Georgia” Yellow-billed Pintail, a strange race of this more widespread species which is known to be carnivorous here on South Georgia.
Our final day on spectacular South Georgia features some of the most dazzling scenery yet, especially around the south-east tip of the island; while the stunning Drygalski Fjord is framed by sharp, nonglaciated mountain peaks. For photographers, this day offers some truly spectacular photographic opportunities and seabirding will be at its very best as we depart from South Georgia. In particular we will look out for our first pure-white Snow Petrels, as well as South Georgia Diving Petrels and most of the species already mentioned, but in particular Kerguelen Petrels.
DAYS 10 TO 12 AT SEA TOWARDS ANTARCTICA AND POSSIBLY ELEPHANT ISLAND
Weather and ice will dictate our crossing of the Scotia Sea from South Georgia to Antarctica, leading us perhaps to Elephant Island. As with all of our itinerary planning, our expedition leader and captain will make a decision based on the conditions at the time, also bearing in mind our plan to try access the Weddell Sea.
“The trip was wonderful, the ship’s staff were exceptional, the weather was perfect, and the two sightings of Emperor Penguin were outstanding (thank you for arranging that). And I saw my favorite bird in the world, the elegant Wandering Albatross, several times!”
As we cruise south-west towards Antarctica, we cross increasingly polar waters. More temperate species disappear; while the true Antarctic species become more prominent, but total numbers and diversity will drop. Our informative onboard lectures will continue to provide breaks from the hours of watching seabirds, whales, dolphins and icebergs. At some point, we will encounter sea-ice, and it is at the ice-edge where we increase our chances for high-Antarctic species, such as Snow Petrel, Chinstrap Penguin and the predatory Leopard Seal. We will keep our eyes peeled to pick out the sought-after Antarctic Petrel in and amongst sometimes vast flocks of Cape Petrel.
As we edge ever closer to the frozen continent, large icebergs announce our arrival in Antarctic waters. If conditions allow, we will hope to see the dark cliffs of Elephant Island appear on the horizon. Shackleton and his men were encamped here for many months, having lost HMS Endurance in the thick sea ice, far to the south in the Weddell Sea, in 1915. From the desolate beach at Point Wild, Shackleton and six companions set off on the rescue mission to South Georgia, aboard the tiny lifeboat, James Caird. To this day, the epic ocean crossing is considered one of the greatest in history. If conditions and time allow, we will attempt a landing at Point Wild on Elephant Island.
Brown Skua and Southern Giant, Cape, Snow and Wilson’s Storm Petrels should entertain us in this region, and cetaceans might include Sei Whale and Hourglass Dolphin.
DAYS 13 TO 16 ANTARCTICA AND THE SOUTH SHETLAND ISLANDS
On the morning of day 13, we hope to wake up in the Antarctic Sound, a channel between the north-eastern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula and Joinville Island. Here we will encounter awe-inspiring tabular icebergs, large fragments of the vast Weddell Ice Shelf, and the ice shelves along the east side of the Antarctic Peninsula. At this time of year, we stand a very reasonable chance to find the holy grail of Antarctica, the Emperor Penguin. This highly sought-after true denizen on the Antarctic, famed for its ability to nest through the hard polar winter, is only guaranteed on exceedingly expensive fly-in tours to their colonies. However, we will head as far south through the Antarctic Sound into the Weddell Sea as ice conditions will allow. Each mile southwards towards the Emperor colony on Snow Hill Island will improve our chances of finding one of these incredible birds resting on the ice.
We may take our first landing at Paulet Island, a tiny island boasting a huge colony of beautiful Adelie Penguins. Whilst we enjoy these delightful creatures, we will also be entertained by more Snowy Sheathbill, Brown Skua and a nearby colony of Antarctic Shag, a very beautiful cormorant.
Our first steps on the Antarctic continent itself may be at Brown Bluff, where we will be treated to spectacular scenery, colonies of Gentoo and Adelie Penguins, and possibly even nesting Snow Petrels, for those willing to partake of a hike. Mammals in this region include Leopard Seal and its favourite prey, Weddell and Crabeater Seals, as well as Antarctic Minke Whale and pods of Orca.
Next, we will head north again, and around 60 miles off the coast of the Antarctic mainland, we find the South Shetland Island chain.
Possible landing sites could include Half Moon Island or King George Island, and dazzling wildlife sightings await us on our excursions to these islands. Weather conditions permitting, we will sail the ship into the flooded volcanic caldera of Deception Island. With rugged scenery, great sites of geologic interest and an overwhelming display of whaling and scientific exploration history, Deception Island is a perfect museum of natural and exploration history.
For those wanting to stretch their legs, a spectacular hike to the crater rim offers a challenge! At one or more of these landings, we can expect to find the delicately-patterned Chinstrap Penguin, which however emits a yowl that is far from a pleasant! We will also add another new bird to our list: South Polar Skua, which occurs in smaller numbers than Brown Skuas.
Later, we will zigzag back through the Bransfield Strait heading south-westwards towards Mikkelsen Harbour and Cierva Cove. In this area, we will enjoy zodiac excursions through the pack ice, marvelling at the myriad of shapes and colours of these ancient formations. Here we may even be lucky enough to encounter another Emperor Penguin, as we did during our 2016 cruise. Although we are unlikely to get many new additions to our list, we will have plenty photo opportunities and time to experience the scenery and wildlife of this amazing region. We again plan to make landings on the Antarctic continent. The scenery here, from the colossal icebergs to the seemingly endless Antarctic ice-sheet with distant high mountains, is truly breathtaking.
Later, we sail past or maybe even land on the Orne Islands with its large colonies of Chinstrap Penguin and a beautiful view across the Gerlache Strait to Cuverville Island – a small precipitous island nestled between the mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula. Cuverville Island is home to the region’s largest Gentoo Penguin colony and most of the region’s breeding bird species. Such penguin colonies and their inevitable attendants are frequent highlights. Here, again, we can explore by zodiac, join our photographic guides for close-up penguin photography, hike to the top of a snowy mountain saddle with one of our adventure guides, and possibly visit a science base or an old historic hut if the opportunity presents itself. For the more adventurous, kayaking* up to several miles from the ship is an option for a truly memorable experience.
*Sea kayaking – Please note, if you have some experience with sea kayaking and are interested in doing this activity during the expedition, you will need to book this option prior to departure from home (sea kayaking price is extra and is not included in the tour cost). We cannot book this activity once onboard.
There is a separate document for sea kayakers that you will need to review beforehand. It’s also important you have some prior paddling experience. If you are unsure, please contact our office for further information.
“It was an incredible trip. Exhilarating, instense, thought-provoking and really fun!” – SB
DAYS 17 & 18 AT SEA IN THE DRAKE PASSAGE
Sadly, we will bid farewell to this frozen wonderland and head north through the famous Drake Passage between Antarctica and Tierra del Fuego. With another crossing of the Antarctic Convergence, we will again have many opportunities to enjoy and study the region’s rich seabirds and cetaceans. While encountering the pelagic seabirds of the Subantarctic Southern Ocean, especially the nowfamiliar albatrosses and petrels, we will examine each bird in search of rarer species – perhaps a Westland Petrel, Subantarctic Shearwater, or one of the Shy Albatross complex of species will put in an appearance.
We will also keep our eyes peeled for breaching whales and bow-riding dolphins. Lectures continue to provide entertaining diversions and educational information; while on our last night, we will toast the conclusion of our amazing venture with a celebratory dinner.
DAY 19 RETURN TO USHUAIA AND DISEMBARKATION
Today, we cruise into the Beagle Channel and land at Ushuaia in the early morning. This provides another chance to see sea and land birds of Tierra del Fuego, before bidding farewell to the fellow travellers with whom we have shared this remarkable voyage of a lifetime.
- Located on Deck 3
- Features: Two lower berths and one upper berth – one lower berth can be converted into a sofa; a washbasin; writing desk & chair; ample storage for all cabin occupants; two portholes – with the option to open one.
- Washroom facilities are shared
- Located on Deck 4
- Features: Two lower berths – one can be converted into a sofa; tall wardrobes with internal shelving; a writing desk & chair; bookshelf, and an openable window.
- Facilities are Semi-Private – meaning the washroom is shared only with the adjacent cabin.
- Located on Decks 4 & 5
- Spacious, well-appointed Cabins
- Features: Two lower berths; private washroom facilities; tall wardrobes with internal shelving; writing desk & chair; bookshelf, and an openable window.
- Located on Deck 6
- Features: Two lower berths; a loveseat; writing desk & chair; ample storage; an openable window, and private washroom facilities.
- Provides great access to the outer observation decks and ship’s bridge.
- Located on Decks 4 & 5
- Two spacious rooms:
- Lounge: Sofa; large table; writing desk & chair; ample storage, and a large, openable window.
- Bedroom: Double berth; upgraded linen/pillows; night light, and private facilities.
- Extras: iPad; mini stereo; capsule coffee maker, and a fully stocked mini bar.
ONE OCEAN SUITE
- Located on Deck 5
- Two very spacious rooms:
- Lounge: Sofa; large table; writing desk; ample storage, and large, openable windows facing the bow.
- Bedroom: Double bed; upgraded linen/pillows; night light, and windows over the port side of the ship.
- Bathroom: Bathtub & shower.
- Extras: iPad; mini stereo; capsule coffee maker; fully-stocked mini bar, and several arm chairs.
AN INTERVIEW WITH OUR LEAD GUIDE
George Armistead: is chief network officer at Rockjumper and focused on partnerships, promotion and managing the Rockjumper Bird Conservation Fund. A birder since the age of 9 years old, he has a long history of connecting people with nature through ecotourism and expedition travel. A professional wildlife guide with 20 years of experience, George has led trips to all seven continents. From 2012 to August of 2016, he developed, managed and marketed events for the American Birding Association, served on the ABA’s Recording Standards and Ethics Committee, and was an instructor at ABA young birder camps.
Why do you think this is such a good time to go to Antarctica?
Early season trips have several advantages. Ask any Antarctic veteran and they’ll tell you straight off, this season is your best chance for Emperor Penguin. Even still, you need some luck, but your chances are probably best around November. The ice is much more pristine around this time of the year too. As it is still in the early stages of the season, breeding colonies still tend to be less messy, so the new ice remains relatively unspoilt by the life here. Also, as a tubenose fiend, this is not only a good time for certain scarce species – like the beefy Atlantic Petrel or the unique Kerguelen Petrel – but is also a time when these speed demons are in fine feather. A quest bird for so many, the Antarctic Petrel is quite reliable in the early season, and also usually hasn’t begun molting, so they look quite trim compared to later on. Add to this that now is the time when seabirds like Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses perform their synchronized courtship flights, and many other species are engaged in display as they pair up, and it is pretty dramatic. It’s a great time to photograph seabirds. While the scenery is always otherworldly. Personally, my experience is that I see more seals in the early season too. There is nothing quite like looking into the menacing eyes of a Leopard Seal, as it smirks with its reptilian grin.
Why the Akademik Ioffe?
The ship is super. Modern, tough, and ice-strengthened, it’s the ideal vessel for navigating this remote corner of the globe. There’s a library for study, a bar for celebrating, good meeting spaces for groups, and the food is good too. I think Antarctica is the only trip I’ve done where I eat ravenously at every opportunity and yet still manage to come home a little lighter in weight. We eat well, and we burn calories too. We’ve even got a fitness room, a massage room, a hot water spa, a sauna and a plunge pool too, should you want.
What are some of the things you are most looking forward to on this tour?
South Georgia most of all. There’s no place like it. And the scene-scapes around the peninsula…. WOW! It’s the only place I’ve ever been where I feel like I’m on another planet.
Everyone knows about the penguins. They are nature’s best comedians, and yet you have to admire them. They are funny and cute, but tough too, and smart. It’s impossible not to take a million photos. I like the Adelies and Chinstraps best of all.
But honestly, the thing I like best is the time at sea. The landings are a thrill, but it’s the sea that holds all the mystery and intrigue. Which seabirds will we see? Can anyone spot a Grey, White-headed or Westland Petrel, a Yellow-nosed Albatross, a Manx Shearwater, or another rare seabird? Which whales will make an appearance? Will anyone spot a Berardius? (I’ll buy them a beer if so). You have to be on deck, and at the ready. And your time there is always rewarded. Unexpected birds find the boat. Usually a Sheathbill shows up at some point and waddles around the boat, and sometimes songbirds show up too. Virtually constantly, Cape Petrels and Black-browed Albatrosses circle the boat. So common, and so elegant.
Why travel with ABA & Rockjumper in 2020?
Well, we have the entire boat. Every. Last. Berth. Unlike so many Antarctic trips, where there can be competing agendas, this year we are running the show, and we all have the same goals. That may be the most exciting thing of all to me. We have an uncommon level of control, with a number of our best guides at the helm, which can help when it comes to searching for that big penguin, or when there is a really unusual whale sighting. We know what we want to see, and we’ll have a unique level of maneuverability in trying to see it. That is rare on these trips.
OTHER TOUR LEADERS
Penny Robartes is a professional fine art wildlife photographer whose images are easily recognised by her iconoclastic work that is recalibrating the way the world sees wildlife. She has emerged as one of Africa’s great nature photographers and is moving her Tour Leading expertise and portfolio to incorporate destinations abroad. Her stunning creations breathe life into natural encounters with the deftness of an artist’s brushstrokes and the enthralling narrative of the best storytellers.
Rich Lindie has spent over a decade travelling, birding and photographing on every continent, amassing an incredible knowledge of the world’s birds and wildlife in the process. His first pair of binoculars ultimately lead to a passion for conservation, a degree in Wildlife and Environmental Science, and his first guiding posts in Peru and Ecuador. Efficient, sharp, enthusiastic and humorous, Rich enjoys showing others the natural world as much as he loves discovering its wonders for himself.
Jeff Gordon is the President of the American Birding Association. Jeff’s special areas of interest include how to build a bigger, more inclusive tent of birders, and how we can come together to have the greatest possible positive impact on the future of birding and the birds that have meant so much to us all. Prior to coming aboard at the ABA, Jeff spent several decades leading birding tours, working as an interpretive naturalist, and learning about the birding industry as a freelance writer, speaker and video editor.
Liz Gordon has been a birder for 25 years. After growing up in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and not knowing about the birds in her backyard for 13 years, she discovered Green Jays and chachalacas. There was no stopping her after that. She helped found the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, and was a mentor for the ABA/Leica Tropicbirds in Texas and Cape May. She first volunteered and eventually became Adjutant at the ABA office. A passion for birds and protecting their habitats drives her every day.
Clayton Burne hails from Durban, South Africa. His previous experience includes working as a museum technician, five years of safari guiding and several years of ophthalmology. Craving an adventure, Clayton packed his bags and completed a year-long birding expedition around South America, accumulating an in-depth knowledge of the region’s birds and wildlife. He is now the Operations Manager and a full-time Rockjumper Birding Tours leader.
WHAT IS INCLUDED:
- All meals (including afternoon tea) from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 19
- Due to a change in tour dates, a glass of house wine or beer will be available with every dinner during the voyage
- 24 hour availability of tea, coffee, hot chocolate in bars and lounges and in-cabin tea and coffee making facilities
- Shipboard accommodation in your selected cabin category with daily housekeeping. All cabins feature outside views with opening windows or portholes
- Port fees and all landing permits
- Expedition gear package (waterproof/windproof jacket, bib pants, insulated rubber boots)
- Zodiac excursions
- Educational presentations
- Dedicated ABA & Rockjumper professional bird tour leaders
- Dedicated ORYX professional photographic tour leader
- Experienced expedition leader and naturalist guides supplied by One Ocean Expeditions
- Hospitality team including a hotel manager, chefs, professional bar staff and adventure concierge staff
- An emergency trained physician
- Onboard sauna, plunge pool, jacuzzi and fitness centre
- Access to a well-stocked library including many polar reference books
WHAT IS EXCLUDED:
- Any flights (both international and domestic)
- Visa and passport expenses
- Pre or post-cruise hotel accommodation
- Pre or post-cruise transfers
- Sea kayaking program (additional $795 per person and it must be reserved at the time of booking your voyage and you need to have prior paddling experience)
- Personal expenses on board including alcoholic beverages, bar charges, massages or laundry expenses
- Telecommunication charges including email and satellite phone
- Insurance – cancellation or medical and related expenses (travel insurance is mandatory on all voyages)
- Voluntary gratuity for crew, staff and tour leaders at the end of the cruise
PLEASE ALSO NOTE:
- Costs are subject to unforeseen increases in tour-related costs and may have to be adjusted as a result. You will be notified by email if fuel surcharges or other price adjustments need to be implemented however this is considered highly unlikely.
- We may be forced to change or alter the itinerary and / or the designated Rockjumper and ORYX leaders at short or no notice due to unforeseen circumstances; please be aware that we will attempt to adhere as close to the original program as possible.
- Lastly, the above schedule is approximate and depends on sea, ice and weather conditions and other factors.
ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE DETAILS:
This tour does not include any airfares. The tour will depart from Ushuaia on day 1 in the mid to late afternoon, and conclude by 09.00am (sea conditions can affect this time) on day 19 in Ushuaia.
The above information in respect of arrivals and departures is a guide only. Precise arrival and departure information will be sent to you in your Tour Confirmation package once the tour has been officially confirmed. If you wish to arrive early and/or depart late and would like assistance in this regard, kindly contact the Rockjumper office.
As many international flights route via Buenos Aires, it is important to note that there are two airports in the city;
- Ministro Pistarini International Airport (IATA: EZE) and;
- Buenos Aires – Aeroparque, also known as Jorge Newberry (IATA: AEP) which handles domestic flights.
Both the international and domestic airports cater for internal flights within Argentina. These airports are completely separate, and the drive between them usually takes between 1 and 1½ hours. It is, therefore, essential that you confirm with your travel agent the airport code in order to be sure which airport your flights arrive at and depart from.
Ministro Pistarini International Airport, Buenos Aires (IATA: EZE) is the main port of entry for international flights into
Argentina and is well serviced by all of the world’s major airlines. From Buenos Aires, there are regular flights to Malvinas Argentinas Ushuaia International Airport (IATA: USH). We have the capacity to advise you on the best route according to your preferences, but your local travel agent will best be able to book these flights for you. We can, however, book the domestic flights on your behalf. IMPORTANT: please DO NOT book your international flights until you have consulted the Rockjumper office for confirmation on the status of the tour.
This document contains a number of key points which you should be aware of when signing up for a tour with Rockjumper Birding Limited (hereafter referred to as ‘RBL’.) While all of the points below contain important information, some of the more critical sections to take into account and read through include the following:
- Reservations (point “1” below);
- Purchasing of International Air Tickets (point “3” below);
- Cancellation and Refund Policies (point “4” below); and
- Travel Insurance (point “4” below).
The terms and conditions set out below form the basis of the contract between RBL and the participant and those on whose behalf the participant has signed for on the booking form. Electronically submitted booking forms are deemed to have been signed by the persons submitting the booking form. Please read our booking conditions before completing the booking form below.
Confirming your place:
In order to confirm your place on the tour, the following is required:
- A completed RBL Booking Form (see below);
- A completed One Ocean Personal Information Form (attached);
- A 25% non-refundable deposit of the cabin price per person, to be submitted within 7 days of booking.
- Final payment is due 150 days prior to departure, if not received on time, RBL reserves the right to cancel your trip. Final documentation will not be issued unless the completed Medical Information form is received.
- If the booking is made within 150 days of the tour departure date, full payment is required.
The abovementioned booking forms should, together with your deposit be submitted to secure your reservation. The booking forms should be filled in electronically, or a hardcopy printed and faxed to the RBL office. A booking is accepted and becomes definite only from the date that RBL has confirmed acceptance in writing. At this point, a contract between RBL and the participant comes into existence.
Booking requests with deposits will be considered in order of their receipt. Telephonic or e-mail requests will not be treated as bookings until the appropriate booking form and deposit is paid. RBL reserves the right to decline any booking at its discretion.
Payment of the balance of the tour fee is due 5 months before departure and is to be made as per the above details. An RBL invoice will be issued to you before full payment is due. Details of what services are included and excluded are outlined on the tour itinerary and details of tour prices can be found on the Rockjumper website.
Please note the following Payment Schedule:
25% – Deposit to secure your place aboard the vessel
25% – Due by the 30th of September, 2019
50% – Due by the 19th of July, 2020
* Once payments are made, they are non-refundable. We highly suggest you take out comprehensive travel insurance to cover you in the event that you need to cancel.
Standard inclusions generally are:
- accommodation in twin cabins on a sharing basis, from first to final nights of the tour;
- all meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) from official start of the tour on the first day to official end of the tour on the final day;
- an RBL specialist bird guide
- all excursions and activities mentioned in the itinerary unless specifically stated as optional, in which case they will be charged for at cost with prior consent from participants;
- all reserve and park entrance fees for reserves and parks that are part of the itinerary;
Standard exclusions generally are:
- all flights (both international and domestic) and any airport taxes related to these flights;
- visa, passport and vaccination costs;
- travel and medical insurance;
- costs incurred before the official start of the tour and after the official end of the tour;
- excess baggage costs;
- beverages over and above those stated as included in the tour itinerary and any service charge related to these beverages;
- optional excursions as defined by the itinerary or excursions not included in the itinerary;
- all personal costs including laundry, snacks, and meals taken in the absence of the tour group, telephone calls and any service charges related to these costs.
The tour cost is subject to major currency fluctuations and other significant events beyond the control of RBL (e.g. major increases in park fees, government charges, fuel costs and hotel charges) and we reserve the right to modify the tour cost, within reason, at any time until full payment has been received. If we have to increase the cost by more than 10% of the tour fee, you have the right to cancel or transfer your booking to another RBL tour without incurring cancellation charges as long as you notify RBL within 7 days of the tour fee surcharge announcement. It has very rarely happened that RBL has levied additional tour fee surcharges and only under extreme circumstances.
The single supplement as outlined in the tour itinerary will be charged if you wish to have single accommodation.
If RBL cannot provide you with a rooming partner although you choose to share, the single supplement will become applicable. We will make all reasonable efforts to ensure that a rooming partner is found if you do wish to share. Rooming partners will be allocated in order of booking unless a participant requests a specific rooming partner who has not been matched. If your allocated rooming partner cancels before the start of the tour, the single room supplement will become applicable to you unless RBL finds another rooming partner for you. If you choose to share a room and during the course of the tour, you or your rooming partner decide to no longer share a room, any additional costs as a result of this decision will not be incurred by RBL.
In some circumstances, single rooms might not be available and you might be expected to share a room.
RBL does not operate as an airline ticketing agency, therefore we generally do not book international flights for our tour participants. We are happy, however, to advise you on flights, routes and airlines. If you do not join the tour, or join the tour late as a result of problems relating to international flights, RBL will not be liable for any losses or extra expenses incurred and our standard refund clauses will apply.
RBL will do our utmost to assist you by making airport transfers, hotel and other requested bookings for you before or after the official tour dates. Please advise us of your requirements well in advance of the tour date.
IMPORTANT: Please DO NOT book your international flights until you have consulted the Rockjumper office for confirmation on the status of the tour. Some of our tours take place in remote locations where flight schedules are erratic and unreliable and in these cases it is advisable to book your international flights to arrive one day before the tour starts and leave one day after your tour ends. Please speak to one of our travel consultants for further information.
CANCELLATIONS AND REFUNDS
If the reservation is cancelled, cancellation fees will be due and payable, according to the following:
- If you wish to cancel your booking, notification of cancellation must be made in writing to RBL more than 150 days in advance. The 25% deposit paid to secure your booking is not refundable.
- If notice of cancellation is received by One Ocean Expeditions less than 120 days before departure, the full booking cost will be retained.
- No refunds will be made if you leave the trip for any reason after the trip has begun.
Adequate and valid travel insurance is compulsory. Your travel insurance must cover accidents, injury, illness and death, medical expenses, including any related to pre-existing medical conditions, emergency repatriation (including helicopter), luggage and personal effects and personal liability. We strongly recommend you purchase cancellation and curtailment insurance. You must carry proof of insurance with you and produce it if requested. RBL reserves the right to cancel or suspend your participation on a trip or in certain activities that comprise part of a trip, at any time, including after the commencement of your tour, with no right of refund, if you are unable to provide proof of insurance when requested.
*Please be aware that most travel insurance policies will refuse to pay out on a travel insurance claim if your travel insurance has been purchased after a particular period of time since booking for the tour. This period may be one week to one month. Please check with your travel insurance provider to ensure you are fully covered at the time of purchasing travel insurance. It is highly recommended that if you do purchase travel insurance, that you do not delay this purchase much beyond the tour booking date.
If you wish to transfer your booking to another RBL tour, this will be considered a cancellation and rebooking, and normal cancellation clauses will be applicable unless a replacement is found for your original booking by you or RBL.
No refunds will be considered for any unutilized services on the tour (this includes accommodations, meals, flights and tour excursions). RBL reserves the right to cancel any tour or tour extension for which there are insufficient reservations 2 months before departure date.
An alternative to cancelling a tour will be charging a small group supplement. If a small group supplement is levied, you may cancel or transfer your booking to another tour without incurring any cancellation penalties as long as you notify RBL in writing within 7 days of our notice of a small group supplement charge.
Tours might also be cancelled or modified by RBL due to significant circumstances beyond our control (e.g. major natural or man-made disasters, political upheaval, war or threat of war, incapacitation of the tour leader or cancellation or rescheduling of vital flights or cruises). We undertake not to cancel a tour less than 2 months before the date of departure, except under these circumstances. If cancellation of the entire tour happens as a result of such a significant event beyond the control of RBL, we undertake to refund payments to the full extent that we are able to recover them from our suppliers.
RBL will not be liable for any airline cancellation charges incurred by you if we cancel a tour. We therefore recommend that you confirm with us that the tour is viable before purchasing your international flight tickets. Cancellation of a tour’s pre-tour or post-tour extension does not alter your rights or obligations with respect to the main portion of the tour.
Tour itineraries and dates are determined many months in advance of departure and alterations to the itinerary and dates may become necessary. Alterations due to circumstances beyond our control, made either before or after departure date, are not grounds for cancellation without incurring cancellation fees as outlined above. RBL undertakes to make every reasonable effort to ensure all tours adhere as closely as possible to published itineraries.
If any downgrading of hotels or other services is necessary, RBL will refund participants the difference in cost between the hotel or service as per the itinerary and the hotel or service that was used.
The tour leader or leaders may be substituted for other experienced leaders at the discretion of RBL, but we will make every attempt to ensure the leader as advertised, will be the tour leader. RBL reserves the right to alter any of the prices, services or other particulars contained in our brochures, itinerary or website at any time before full payment has been received from the participant.
All travel arrangements such as flight bookings, hotel accommodation, catering and ground transport made by RBL are subject to booking and service conditions of the supplier of the services.
Most of our tours operate in developing countries, some of which have very limited tourism infrastructure. At times, travel conditions and standards will not meet up to international standards with regard to roads, vehicles, accommodations, meals and service levels. In many areas inadequacies and unpredictable events may occur and this is part and parcel of traveling in the developing world. RBL undertakes to make every reasonable effort to ensure the tour operates as smoothly and seamlessly as possible. RBL is not liable for any damage, losses and expenses suffered by any client as a result of any circumstance beyond our control, please refer to further liability clauses below.
The participant is responsible for obtaining necessary visas and health certificates required by the countries visited during the course of the tour, as well as ensuring their passports are in order. RBL will supply the relevant information in our pre-departure information pack and will assist in any way possible in obtaining visas and we are happy to offer advice. RBL will not be liable for losses or extra costs incurred if you do not have the valid documentation. Although we strive to keep the information in our pre-departure information pack up-to-date and accurate we will not be held responsible for any innocent errors or inaccuracies or if regulations change and we are not aware of such changes. Please note that RBL guides carry a limited supply of First Aid equipment and are not permitted to dispense medication. Please bring any medication that you feel you may need for the trip.
RBL reserves the right to remove any participant from a tour during the course of the tour, if the participant is deemed by the tour leader to be unfit to continue with the tour, or if the participant causes serious disruption to the tour or the enjoyment thereof for the other participants. In such an unlikely event, RBL will not make any refund or be liable for any losses or additional costs incurred by the affected person. If the participant who is removed from the tour has also signed up for future RBL tours, his/her bookings will automatically be cancelled and the standard cancellation terms will be applicable.
RBL carries liability insurance with SATIB whose policy details are available on request. Any information contained in RBL’s brochure/itineraries/website is, to the best of RBL’s belief, true and correct and RBL accepts no liability for any innocent inaccuracies contained therein.
EVACUATION / REPATRIATION INSURANCE IS COMPULSORY
Passengers are advised that medical evacuation, if available, is expensive and that medical insurance that could reimburse you for this cost is mandatory. You should carry a copy of your insurance certificate on board.
REPRESENTATION, TERM, WARRANTY AND CONDITIONS
The entire contract between RBL and the participant is contained within these conditions. No representation, term, warranty or condition expressed or applied shall be considered to be, or have been made or agreed or applied by reference to any other writing, advertisement or conversation. These conditions may only be varied with the written consent of RBL signed by a director of RBL.
The contract is deemed to have been made at the RBL offices in Mauritius, and is subject to Mauritian law and the exclusive jurisdiction of the Mauritian courts.
Reference or mention of “RBL” means Rockjumper Birding Limited. The transport, meals, entrance fees, accommodation or other facilities or services, which are to be supplied in respect of any tour, are those specifically stated in the tour brochure or itinerary, in which the tour contracted for, by any person, is described and no other. Each tour requires the organisation of transport, meals, entrance fees, accommodation or other facilities or services. RBL makes arrangements with suppliers of such services and facilities and those suppliers contract with RBL as independent contractors. Save for RBL’s contractual rights against the suppliers to any tour, RBL has no direct day to day control over its suppliers and, accordingly, RBL accepts no responsibility for any injury, damage, loss, accident, delay, irregularity or inconvenience, which may be occasioned by any defect in any object (including a vehicle) utilized by any supplier for the supply of any contracted service or by an act of omission of any supplier or its servants. RBL undertakes to make every reasonable effort to ensure that the services supplied during the tour are of the highest standard, as per the itinerary.
Should you be dissatisfied with any aspect of your tour, please inform the tour leader immediately. If the leader is unable to resolve the problem to your satisfaction, please inform the RBL office during the course of the tour or in writing within one month of your return.
Pre-trip information for your tour will be sent to you at least 2 months before your departure. This contains all necessary information concerning passport, visa and health requirements, emergency contact details, as well as details of climate, what to bring, recommended reading etc. A potential bird and mammal checklist will be sent before the tour, if requested. A bound daily checklist will be given to you on the first day of the tour. Should you wish to receive any of these documents prior to booking, please contact the RBL office. Final tour information, meeting instructions, flight details, air-tickets, and any additional material will be sent to you approximately a month prior to your departure, if necessary.
MANDATE TO COLLECT FUNDS FROM CARD
You hereby authorise and instruct us to collect all funds due by you from your card as presented to us or any other card that you may indicate or present to us from time to time. You confirm that you are the card account holder or have authority to give us this mandate. You will ensure that sufficient funds are available in your card account to cover these deductions and we may re-present the deductions should the related transactions fail.
We have taken care to ensure that the content on this website is accurate. This website and the services accessible on or via this website are provided “as is” and your use of and reliance on the information on this website and the online services is entirely at your own risk. We do not represent or warrant that the website, any tools, content or online services will be error-free or will meet any particular criteria of accuracy, completeness, reliability, performance or quality. You assume full responsibility for the risk or loss resulting from the use of this site and your reliance on information contained in it. We reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to correct any errors or omissions in any portion of this website. Information, ideas and opinions expressed on this website should not be regarded as professional advice or our official opinion.
To the fullest extent permissible by law, we expressly disclaim all (express and implied) warranties, including, without limitation, warranties of merchantability, title, and fitness for a particular purpose, non-infringement, compatibility, security and accuracy in respect of this website and the services accessible on this website. While we take reasonable precautions to prevent this, we do not warrant that the website is free of viruses or destructive code. Without derogating from the generality of the above, and to the extent legally permitted, we will not be liable for:
- any interruption, malfunction, downtime, off-line situation or other failure of the site or online services, our system, databases or any of its components, beyond our reasonable control;
- any loss or damage with regard to your data or other data directly or indirectly caused by malfunction of our system, third party systems, power failures, unlawful access to or theft of data, computer viruses or destructive code on our system or third party systems; programming defects; and
- any interruption, malfunction, downtime or other failure of goods or services provided by third parties, including, without limitation, third party systems such as the public switched telecommunications service providers; Internet service providers, electricity suppliers, local authorities and certification authorities; or any event over which we have no direct control.
We and our officers, directors, employees, servants, affiliates, shareholders, agents, consultants or employees (in whose favour this constitutes a stipulation for the benefit of another) shall not be liable for and you hereby indemnify us and our officers, directors, employees, servants, affiliates, shareholders, agents, consultants or employees (in whose favour this constitutes a stipulation for the benefit of another) against any direct, indirect, special, incidental, consequential or punitive damages or loss of any kind whatsoever or howsoever caused (whether arising under contract, delict or otherwise and whether the loss was actually foreseen or reasonably foreseeable) arising out of your use of this website or the online services or the information contained on this website or your inability to use this website or the online services.
This policy describes the way in which we deal with the information you provide to us to enable us to manage your relationship with us.
We may use your personal information together with other information for the purposes of:
- processing your payments
- setting up and managing your account
- complying with our regulatory duties
- building up personal profiles
- providing you with information about promotional offers
B. Information Storage
We will take all reasonable steps to ensure that your information is kept secure and protected. We will only disclose personal information to other companies within associated or subsidiary companies and to business partners, successors in title to our business and suppliers that are engaged to process such information on our behalf.
If you apply for an account with us then to help us make credit decisions about you, to prevent fraud, to check your age and identity and to prevent money laundering, we may use third parties including credit reference agencies who will record any searches on your file.
We may also make enquiries of, and disclose details of how you conduct your account to, such agencies, security organisations and any other relevant third parties for fraud and money laundering prevention.
D. Internet-Based Transfers
Given that the Internet is a global environment, using the Internet to collect and process personal data necessarily involves the transmission of data on an international basis.
Some of the data processors engaged to process personal data may be based outside of your country of residence. Therefore, by browsing our website and communicating electronically with us, you acknowledge and agree to our processing of your personal data in this way.
E. Disclosure of Information
We are entitled to share the information we hold on, in order to investigate fraud, money laundering or integrity issues and to comply with our regulatory duties under the applicable laws.
We do not sell, lease or resell our customer data to 3rd parties.