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Antarctica, the Falkland Islands and South Georgia Trip Report and Pictures

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Jun 7th, 2009, 10:12 AM
  #21
 
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I suppose those possibilities exist ... but I've not heard of them happening anywhere. Now, it is possible to have a penguin that is trying to escape leopard seal jump in (probably because the zodiac happens to be in the way of the penguin's path as it shoots out of the water when it is porpoising) ... I've heard two occasions of that happening .

Go and have a good time ... and don't worry too much.
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Jun 8th, 2009, 10:48 AM
  #22
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Sorry I did not see these posts sooner, but I will try to respond regarding the Zodiacs.

Erin is right, the crew is extremely experienced at handling them, even in rough water, so I don't think there is any serious danger. And on our trip, there were MANY over-55's (and over-65's, over-75's etc.), NONE of whom had any problems with the zodiacs. So I think it is just a matter of following the crew's instructions and letting them help you and I would not let concerns over the zodiacs deter you from going or from doing shore landings.

I think the chance of real danger from a marine animal while you are in a zodiac is so remote as to be inconsequential. Whales are very gentle animals, and I have spent a lot of time in the water with humpback whales, and near them in small boats (not in Antarctica, but it's the same whales), and they always seem very mindful of people and boats and I seriously douby one would ever do anything aggressive. Leopard Seals have been known to chase, and even bite, zodiacs, but I don't think I have ever heard of one jumping into a zodiac. Chances are you won't make history by being there the first time that has ever happened in recorded history!
Following up on what Erin said, there is a famous video on YouTube of a Gentoo Penguin jumping into a zodiac while being chased by a pod of orcas, but nothing harmful befell the people in the zodiac (or the penguin for that matter).
I hope you have a great trip -- it is definitely a unique and very special experience to visit Antarctica!

Chris
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Jun 8th, 2009, 05:42 PM
  #23
 
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Margaretlb - Don't be afraid of the Zodiacs! I'm 60 years old, a bit overweight, and not at all athletic -- all compounded by bad knees (I have had two ACL reconstructions in the past five years) but I had no problems. Our crew was wonderful and knew exactly how to help even the most awkward of passengers (like me...).
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Nov 3rd, 2009, 09:15 AM
  #24
 
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Hey Chris
Just revisiting your report again, I realise I never commented on it to say, great job! A fantastic resource!
Pete and I are considering a trip to the Falkland Islands for January 2010 so I'm just going back through any Falkland Island material on the site.
Our 2nd FI/South Georgia/ Antarctic trip didn't match up to the first, for many different reasons, though it still had many wonderful moments.
It's wonderful to relive the first trip especially, back in 2004, by reading rhe reports of others!
Kavey
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Nov 19th, 2009, 10:46 AM
  #25
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Kavey, thank you. I had not been monitoring this thread so I missed your post.
We would really like to go to Antarctica again, this time going straight there and spending more time there. I absolutely loved the Falklands and especially South Georgia, but we didn't spend much time in Antarctica itself. We also didn't have particularly good weather, and I would love to see Antarctica under sunny blue skies next time around, and spending more time there might make that more likely.
If you do go back to the Falklands in January I will look forward to hearing about it!
Chris
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Nov 19th, 2009, 01:45 PM
  #26
 
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Since I posted that last message, I've BOOKED a Falkland Islands trip for Jan/Feb. About 4 weeks long. Can't WAIT!
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Nov 20th, 2009, 06:50 AM
  #27
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Kavey, that will be a really super trip, 4 weeks in the Falklands! I only had 2 days there and absolutely loved it. Tell me about what you are planning to do there -- either here or send me a message on Facebook (Chris Willis)!

Chris
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Nov 20th, 2009, 11:11 PM
  #28
 
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Kavey, you are so lucky! I was in the Falklands for two weeks in January, 2009 and would love to go again, especially for four weeks! Do you know where you are going? I'm trying to remember where I went. Carcass (I believe that belongs to Rob and Lorraine, wonderful hosts and the best food - I can't remember the chef's name but he wore a cap that said Hot Stuff so that's what I called him), Sea Lion Island (more like a small hotel) Saunders Island and The Neck (staying in an old farmhouse), and I think I'm missing at least one more. Here are some of my pics from that trip if you are interested in them. http://www.pbase.com/cjw/feb_2009_falkland_islands

Sorry to hijack your thread, Chris
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Nov 23rd, 2009, 08:31 AM
  #29
 
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Ooooh, thanks folks... I'm quite excited!

We did have a firm itinerary but one of the places that had confirmed suddenly changed their mind and my poor agent is frantically trying to create a new itinerary that still gives us everything we want without costing more.
Since we'd paid deposit on the previous itinerary, I'm obviously not keen to pay any more, but still want an itinerary that is as strong as original.
As soon as hear back on re-finalised itinerary, will share it here!
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Nov 24th, 2009, 04:25 AM
  #30
 
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Kavey - how wonderful ... 4 weeks in the Falklands. We've been discussing an extended trip back there when we retire. Waiting to hear the details of your planned itinerary.
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Nov 24th, 2009, 09:55 AM
  #31
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Cindy, I just looked at your picutres again, what a treat! I know I told you this before, but they are really excellent. One of my fondest memories of the whole trip was sitting at the base of the rockhopper colony on Saunders Island, at one end of the Neck, photographing them and the Magellanics coming into and our of the ocean. Looks like you found that spot too!

Chris
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Nov 24th, 2009, 05:14 PM
  #32
 
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Thank you, Chris. And, yes, Saunders Island and The Neck was an amazing spot. I think that's where they told us there was a little cave you could crawl in that had a little waterfall where the penguins stood to bathe (or whatever). One guy went down there and said it was a slippery, penguin poo mess and the photos weren't worth it. But everything else sure was!

It was also nice at Sea Lion Island because you could walk to the beach any time you wanted and there were always penguins (many penguins!) there. That's also where we saw the sunset (the only time). Most of the other places we had to be driven to where we walked from. Sea Lion Island is also where I crawled up the mounds of penguin poo to get the wide angle shots of the penguins with the sky in the background.

Kavey, if you're still reading this be sure to take waterproof pants. You will probably find yourself kneeling or laying on the ground and waterproof pants are nice to have. Take them off at the end of the day and you are still clean. Also I think they helped with the wind. The wind is always blowing pretty hard and it gets chilly.

I just previewed this and I sure wrote "also" a lot. Sorry!
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Nov 25th, 2009, 10:03 AM
  #33
 
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I can't wait!

Cindy, I would just throw in the waterproof ski pants we bought for Antarctica but my pair disintegrated on our 2nd trip last December so I need to buy new pair... but yes, will take same gear as took to South Georgia/ Antarctica so can sit on wet sand etc.
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Nov 25th, 2009, 07:24 PM
  #34
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Since we are on the subject of penguin poo, I really was afraid I had gotten stuck in knee-deep penguin doo-doo on Salisbury Plain, as I was maneuvering to try to get a shot of some Kings with the mountains in the background. The shot wasn't nearly as good when I took it as I imagined it would be when I entered the muck!

Later, at the museum in Grytviken, we bought some "Pengun Doo-Doos" and brought them home for our friends!
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Nov 25th, 2009, 11:43 PM
  #35
 
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Finally had time to sit and look at Cindy's photos, oh my, they both took me back to the limited time we'd had on Falklands in 2004 and also back to the penguin and seals we met in South Georgia and Antarctic on both trips.

Can't wait!

Chris, on the first trip, others looked on in surprise when those few of us into our photography lay down full length, front down, to get a photo. On the second trip, a special photography charter (which I would not do again) it was far more normal!
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Nov 27th, 2009, 12:54 PM
  #36
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Why wouldn't you do it again, Kavey? I have never been on a specialty-photography trip but I would be interested to hear why you say that.

Chris
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Nov 28th, 2009, 03:20 AM
  #37
 
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Chris, I much preferred the mix of people the first time around - people interested in wildlife, others in arctic landscapes, some very keen birders, others into their photography yes but a natural mix. And on a personal level, I liked having people of different nationalities and ages too.

On the photography special it was simply too focused on photography and plus there were a lot of pompous types who liked to show off their equipment in a "mine's bigger than yours" kind of way, which is the antithesis of what Pete and I are like about it. Nearly everyone was British, as it was a special charter arranged and marketed by a UK company.

And, on a selfish note, when say only about 30 of the pax. are seriously into their photography (everyone takes photos of course, but you know what I mean), you can relax, take your time, find a great location (of which there are many), settle in and take your time. Those interested in birding or other aspects will prioritise different criteria when choosing where to explore or stop and sit. But when practically everyone is of same interest, firstly, it means everyone is looking for the same thing and the photography hot spots get very crowded. And even if you avoid those and go and find somewhere else, to be able to enjoy the experience and peace of it, someone else will see you, assume you've found some shot they didn't and come and join you. Of course, I wasn't trying to hog some great find to myself, not at all, I was only looking for some peace and solitude with the wildlife, and had chosen a random spot to sit in! And in some cases, some were extremely inconsiderate - in one place, the entire length of the beach afforded similar views. No one spot better than the next. So Pete sat down about 20 metres from the shore and got his camera set up, with the intention of getting some shots of swimming penguins. I actually watched a guy walk along the beach, stop and look at where Pete was and follow his sight line, and then go and position himself about 5 metres from the shore DIRECTLY infront of Pete! Unbelievable! This kind of competitive photography is not what we're about! Of course, not everyone was like that, and on the other side of the coin was a case where some penguins were sat on eggs and the eggs were hatching open. A kind person who had just left that spot let me know to go over and have a look and it was amazing! But this was overshadowed by much more of the former!

A normal mix of people just felt much more relaxed to me and allowed each individual to genuinely find what they were looking for ashore...
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Nov 28th, 2009, 07:43 AM
  #38
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Kavey, that makes total sense to me and it's consistent with my own experience. We had a couple of "competitive photographers" on our Antarctica trip, but it was easy enough to get away from them most of the time. They did have their share of getting right in front of my shots, but the best was when I had spent some time getting close to an animal and they ran up and scared it away!
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Nov 28th, 2009, 11:44 AM
  #39
 
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Yes there was some of that too...

Don't get me wrong, I had no problem with those occasions when you find a particular viewpoint which is a bit special, and of course, others will want to capture it too --- even if they hadn't noticed it before, when they notice you there, they'll realise it has potential, and want to take a picture there as well. I get that, totally, though a bit of common courtesy wouldn't go amiss!

But there were so many occasions when people would be so aggressive about not missing a single potential shot that they'd simply ASSUME that anywhere anyone else was positioned was better than where they were and barge in or block the shot or scare the wildlife away or ruin the solitude... and all for nothing as the spot itself was nothing special!

That's one of the things I'm looking fwd to with this Falkland Islands trip - the opportunity to be one of very few other visitors in each location... in some cases, the only visitor there at a time.
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Nov 29th, 2009, 03:54 AM
  #40
 
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Interesting comments about photo vs "non-photo" trips! I'm a serious photographer, but I specifically chose non-photo for my upcoming Antarctic expedition. I had seen online photos of photography trips, and what struck me was how everyone was hunched over their laptops in the dining room and lounge. Not how I want to spend my trip. And aside from when I'm researching to buy new equipment, nothing bores me more than talking about photo gear LOL. I would choose a photo-specific tour for some other destinations - when you need to be taken to remote areas, when the leader knows how to chase the good light, when you want a tour group that's paced for patience for photographers. But I'm confident I'll have plenty of great photo ops on a regular trip. And I'm not even bringing my laptop
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