King penguins by the hundreds of thousands, albatross rookeries with more than 100,000 nesting birds, fur and elephant seals mating and pupping, covering the beaches in frenzied chaos, and a profusion of seabirds from albatross to giant petrels and skuas.
These are just some of the outstanding scenes to be encountered on South Georgia in the spring, when this remote island in the Southern Ocean emerges from its long, frigid winter, wildlife starts to migrate and the breeding cycle for many species begins.
Travelling with specialist small-ship adventure cruise operator, One Ocean Expeditions (OOE) during October and November, which coincides with this spring spectacle, it is easy to see why the location has been dubbed the Polar Serengeti, due to the sheer numbers and variety of wildlife to be seen.
And, with arguably the most wildlife per square metre of anywhere in the world, all on display against a pristine, icy snow-covered backdrop, it’s the perfect location and the perfect time of year, for keen photographers to hone their skills.
OOE’s South Georgia In Depth departure on 21 October 2017 incorporates a Photography Symposium, offering guests the opportunity to capture the magnificence of South Georgia’s wildlife, with the assistance of a number of professional guest photographers who are experts in their field.
Among them is South African wildlife photographer and nature guide, Gerhard (Guts) Swanepoel. Guts Swanepoel has earned his reputation as one of the most sought-after guides of his generation following 13 years of guiding and a staggering 1.2 million kilometres travelling across Southern Africa.
“Every time I go to South Georgia, I am just blown away with this spectacular wildlife destination. I don’t think of my homeland, I just get lost in the beauty of the Southern Ocean and the fantastic wildlife we get to photograph during the voyage. What a gift!”, says Guts Swanepoel.
Leading the group is award-winning photographer, Daisy Gillardini, who has been travelling to the Southern Ocean every year for the past two decades. Last year she was awarded Nature’s Best Photography Grand Prize, the winning pictures are on display at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington, DC. Daisy combines her skills as a photographer and love of extreme adventure with a true passion for the natural world and a life-long commitment to the environment and conservation issues.
Each day passengers explore new landscapes in search of unforgettable, up-close-and-personal wildlife experiences, in the company of professional guides including ornithologists, naturalists, historians, and photographers, with expeditions timed to make the most of ideal light and photographic conditions.
Offering more time in South Georgia than any other ship operator, OOE features a variety of expeditions by zodiac, sea kayak and on foot. Designed to see as much as possible of this remote island, its itineraries maximise opportunities to experience one of the greatest wildlife shows on earth, including the chance to land on Prion Island to observe nesting wandering albatross at close quarters, and also to visit historical sites of interest, such as the final resting place of Sir Ernest Shackleton and Frank Wild, his loyal right hand man, in Gytviken.
The 14-night South Georgia In Depth departures on 21 October and 4 November 2017 cost from US$9495 per person based on triple share on board the ice-strengthened, Akademik Sergey Vavilov, while 17-19-night voyages during November, which take in the Falklands and Antarctica as well as South Georgia, start from US $13,695pp.
Prices include return flights between Punta Arenas in Chile and Stanley in the Falkland Islands, airport transfers, accommodation and meals on board, plus guides, wet weather gear, excursions and activities as included in each itinerary.
Interactive workshops, one-on-one reviews and constructive feedback to help improve photographic skills, as well as dedicated photographic excursions, to take advantage of the light and extended periods on shore to satisfy the photographic time required are also included.