Epic South Georgia & The Falkland Islands
In collaboration with Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, (JVOPS) this amazing photographic expedition is offered by Denis Glennon AO, Iconic Images International, Australia and Shem Compion, C4 Images & Safaris, South Africa.
Joseph Van Os’ values sit very comfortably with Shem’s and mine. We are collaborating with JVOPS because of their common sense approach to pricing, their expertise and experience in catering for special groups within expeditions.
You have full access to JVOPS specialist polar region expedition leaders and presenters – a 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. Once deemed so removed from civilisation that men traded their lives to experience it, is now accessible on modern vessels for you to access, experience, photograph and forever remember.
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.
More than two million Antarctic fur seals – 95% 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.
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 vast Southern Ocean—is crowned by a wreath of flowing glaciers covering half of its expanse. The craggy scenery is no less spectacular than if the Alps had been hurled recklessly into the tempestuous ocean.
The Falklands are not to be dismissed, as 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.
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.
This Epic South Georgia 2019 photography odyssey is an exclusive charter, and all aspects of the tour are focused 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.
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 engaged 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.
During the tour, participants’ photography and wildlife interests shape our plans. On many days we stop at only one landing site, 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.
And, finally, we are only enrolling 78 participants on this expedition—less than half the size of most other cruises that visit the sub-Antarctic.
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 craft enable passengers to travel in small groups and facilitate visits to some of the most spectacular wildlife concentrations in the world.
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!
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!
The highlights are many; here is a small selection:
- Voyage especially designed by and for photographers wanting extended time at spectacular South Georgia.
- 10 shooting days of photography scheduled at South Georgia.
- 3 days of photography at the Falkland Islands.
- Early season benefits—good chance of snowfall to enhance photos, access to Prion Island nesting wandering albatrosses, huge bull elephant seals battling for females, few aggressive bull Antarctic fur seals have come ashore—allowing access to beaches usually too dangerous to visit later in the season, photograph gray-headed albatrosses on the nest.
- Few other ships will be in the area at this time—and it will seem like we have the entire island to ourselves—allowing more flexibility in landing site selection.
- We work closely with the Expedition Leader to ensure we are at the best locations for the most time, in the best light.
- The total number of passengers on the vessel is 78. This is very important as Antarctica regulations stipulate that no more than 100 people are allowed on shore at any one time. Thus means that everyone will be able to go ashore at the same time, maximizing photography time.
- JVOPS’ policy is to try and spend as much time ashore at the wildlife sightings.
- One-on-one interactions with professional expedition leaders and photographers who will help you get the best possible results.
- In summary, the photography and expedition are designed to have a small group of nature and wildlife photographers experience eighteen nights on board one of the best smaller ships sailing the Antarctic region to give them the best opportunities for some amazing photography.
- You can download the Free eBook featuring dozens of client images from a past South Georgia trip
- The short video below will ‘take you there’.
Day 1 or Earlier
Depart from home.
Day 2 (Oct 9)
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 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 favorable, 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 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 the 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 northwest 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 penguin 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.
Day 25 (Nov 1)
Arriving in Ushuaia, we clear Customs, disembark the ship, and transfer to the airport to depart for home.
Day 26 or Later
Please Note: The above itinerary is intended as an example only. Participants should allow for flexibility due to changes in weather, natural history events, or other logistical arrangements deemed necessary by our leaders.
|CABIN TYPE||COST/PERSON/SHARING||COST/PERSON/UNSHARED||CABIN NUMBERS|
|STANDARD TWIN||US$15,995||US$30,390.50||See Deck Plan|
|STANDARD PLUS TWIN||US$16,995||US$32,290.50||See Deck Plan|
|PREMIUM TWIN||US$17,995||US$34,190.50||See Deck Plan|
|SUPERIOR TWIN||US$18,995||US$36,090.50||See Deck Plan|
For additional information and images of the various cabin types, please click: Cabin Types & Photos.
All prices above are per person based on double occupancy (except Premier Single Cabin category) from Ushuaia, Argentina and are shown in USD. The trip fee does not include airfare of any kind, transfers other than with the group, visas, excess baggage charges, airport departure taxes, tips for the ship’s crew, travel insurance, bottled water, beverages other than coffee, tea, milk and juice taken at meals, bar expenses, phone calls, faxes, email, laundry, or other items of a personal nature.
MV Ushuaia Deck Plan
Iconic Images is obligated to pay the costs of the photo safari in US dollars and all prices quoted are in US dollars.
Terms of Payment
- 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.
Please note, deposits are non-refundable and non-transferrable.
We must receive written notice of your cancellation, at which time the following fees are non-refundable:
If Written Cancellation is Received Cancellation Fee
15 Dec ‘18 or prior 50% of deposit
16 Dec ’18 to 4 Apr ‘19 25% of tour fee
5 Apr ‘19 to 14 June ‘19 50% of tour fee
15 June ‘19 or after 100% of tour fee
Emergency Evacuation Insurance
Emergency evacuation insurance is MANDATORY for this tour.
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). Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris (JVOPS) offer a suitable/acceptable insurance policy but it is only available to US and Canadian residents.
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, JVOPS advise 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.
How to Register (Important Information)
- the necessary participant information, required by JVOPS, is transmitted accurately to them, and
- participants are fully aware of the special JVOPS conditions pertaining to this particular tour
Iconic Images is using the JVOPS Registration Form for the tour (instead of its 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.
To register, click on the REGISTRATION FORM button in the sidebar, download, print, complete the form and return it, together with the initial deposit and evidence of travel insurance cover, to Nick@owtravel.com.au.
Our World Travel (OWT), Shop 1/113 Royal Street, East Perth, Western Australia 6004, handles all registrations and receipt of payments for Iconic Images’ tours and safaris. Direct deposit and credit card facilities are available from OWT for both Australian and overseas registrants. For details of these facilities, please email: Nick@owtravel.com.au or call him on +61 (0)8 92219977 or 0418912884 and he will assist you and forward the relevant bank details to you by return email. Credit card payments attract a fee of 2%.
Confirmation of your reservation will be forwarded to you by OWT upon receipt of the completed registration form, initial deposit and insurance details.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of international flights or travel insurance, please speak to Nick Missikos.
If you would like to discuss any photographic aspect of the tour, please telephone Denis Glennon on 0418 923 103 or send an email to me at: email@example.com
Joe Van Os
Joe Van Os has been director of Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris for over three decades. His lifelong interest in nature has been the driving force in Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, an enthusiasm that continues to influence new trip development to the world’s most spectacular nature photography locations. Joe is a seasoned tour leader, having led hundreds of tours and cruises worldwide. He is also a proficient and avid nature photographer. Thousands of his photographs regularly accompany advertising and articles in books, magazines and corporate publications around the world, represented as photo stock by Getty Images. Joe lives on rural Vashon Island surrounded by Washington State’s Puget Sound.
Jeff Vanuga is a photographer based in Dubois, Wyoming. His images have been published in National Geographic Magazine, Outside, National Wildlife, Nature’s Best, The New York Times and Wyoming Wildlife, and have appeared in Wyoming Tourism, Patagonia, Frontier Airlines, Ford, Nissan and Early Winters advertising. His photography has won many awards, including first place in the National Wildlife Photography Competition, first place in BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Nature’s Best, Outdoor Writer’s Association and many other photographic competitions. Jeff’s images have been published in the Compass American Guide to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.
Eric Rock is a leading travel and nature photographer who discovered his passion for photography early in life. At the age of sixteen he purchased his first camera and began to explore the natural world. While studying wildlife biology at the University of Alaska, he used that passion to expand his skills while working as an assignment photographer and teaching assistant in the School of Journalism. Eric began his guiding career as the head naturalist at Kantishna Roadhouse in Alaska’s Denali National Park—a perfect location to explore nature with a camera. From there, his travels have taken him around the globe while utilizing his knowledge of nature and photography to enhance his clients’ experiences through focused and personalized instruction. Eric’s expertise as a photographer and his insights as a naturalist are invaluable for revealing precise moments for the ultimate image captures. He is also recognized the world over for his laugh! Eric lives in Bozeman, Montana.
Mark Thomas left the pharmacy profession more than 20 years ago to pursue his passion for wildlife photography. Since then, he has photographed on every continent. Images from these trips have appeared in numerous publications including Audubon, Sierra, National Geographic, National Wildlife and Nature’s Best. Mark’s images have won many awards, including 1st Place in the National Wildlife Photo Contest, 1st Place in the Outdoor Writers of America Contest, and his recent work with hummingbirds in South America yielded a 1st Place “Small World” category win in the Nature’s Best Photography prestigious competition. His winning print will hang in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History through 2015. Mark is also an accomplished underwater photographer, is well-versed in Photoshop, and processes and prints all of his own work for art show exhibitions across the country. His images hang in many private collections. Mark lives in Pembroke Pines, Florida.
Joe & Mary McDonald
Joe & Mary Ann McDonald are accomplished naturalists, professional wildlife photographers and writers. Joe has written numerous how-to books on wildlife photography, digital photography and Photoshop. Mary Ann has written more than 29 children’s books on natural history topics and she is a two-time winner of categories in the BBC Photographer of the Year award and Nature’s Best annual competition. Their work appears regularly in calendars and publications. Together they have led photo tours to remote destinations world wide and in the US for 25 years, and conducted digital photography classes. Joe and Mary Ann live in Pennsylvania.
Chris Edwards spent three summers and two winters stationed in Stonington and Alexander Islands in Antarctica in the early 1970s. As a geologist for the British Antarctic Survey, he regularly travelled hundreds of miles by dogsled, camping for six months at a time away from base, to conduct his field research. His doctoral studies based on this research resulted in a Ph.D. in 1981 from the University of Birmingham. This experience and his knowledge of the geology, botany, wildlife and exploration history of Antarctica, the Arctic, and the British Isles make him a sought-after lecturer, field guide and expedition leader. Chris lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
Anna Sutcliffe is a wildlife ecologist with a deep commitment to developing environmental awareness through education and interpretation. With a degree in geography and ecology from Reading University, she has participated in research projects in the UK, Canary Islands and Russia and has extensively studied a variety of seabirds. For more than a decade, Anna has been a naturalist and/or expedition leader on expedition cruises to Antarctica, South Georgia, the Falkland Islands, the Arctic, Norway, the Seychelles and coastal Britain and Scotland. She has particularly strong knowledge of the ecology, birds and sea mammals of Antarctica. She lives with her husband, Steve, in West Wales, UK.
Monika Schillat is a historian and naturalist who has been guiding groups to some of the most remote regions of the earth for the last 15 years. Dedicated to ecotourism, she has been the Expedition Leader for tours to the Antarctic, the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, as well as Spitsbergen. Originally from Germany, Monika immigrated to South America in 1989 and is currently a lecturer on Latin American history at the National Univeristy of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, specializing in Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego and the South Atlantic islands. Monika has published several books on the history of the region, as well as travel guides and has contributed to volumes of polar essays on Antarctica and the Arctic. Monika’s unique Antarctic Bestiary, describing the animal species of the White Continent, is illustrated with her watercolour sketches done in the style of medieval bestiaries. Monika is fluent in English, Spanish and German and resides in Tierra del Fuego.
Denis Glennon AO
One of the 70+ million Irish diaspora scattered around the planet, Denis made Western Australia his home, in 1974. Prior to establishing Iconic Images International, he spent over 35 years in the corporate world, in various parts of the globe, and for his sins, holds degrees in engineering, psychology, science and education. In 2000 he was awarded an AO (Officer of the Order of Australia) for contributions, over two decades, to environmental conservation and pollution prevention in Australia. A seven year spell in Zambia ignited a passion for Africa’s wildlife, landscapes and cultures. These days he spends most of his free time leading photographic tours and safaris internationally. He and his friend Shem Compion have an excellent working relation built up over the last ten years.
Shem is the founder and owner of C4 Photo Safaris in Pretoria, South Africa. His knowledge of travel in Africa, its wildlife and the best photographic locations is second to none.
A self-taught wildlife photographer, Shem quickly established himself as one of the top wildlife photographers in Southern Africa. His work is regularly published worldwide in magazines, calendars and books. In 2010, he supplied all 72 images to the extremely popular Africa Geographic calendar. It sold out within 4 months – the first time ever. He has published a number of stunning books, four valuable photographic guides, has presented photographic workshops for organisations such as National Geographic and is regular keynote speaker at international photographic conventions. In recent years he has co-led tours with Denis in both the Artic & Antarctic and is a passionate teacher of photography.
Pre-departure Information & Checklists
To assist you prepare for this photo safari we have compiled a downloadable and printable PDF. It contains helpful information on:
- Travelling with and looking after photographic equipment in polar regions.
- Typical weather and climate in South Georgia & The Falklands.
- Procedures and strict requirements for zodiac usage and landings.
- Recommended camera equipment for the expedition.
- Power supply in Ushuaia and on board MV Ushuaia, for charging batteries, laptop, etc.
- Downloading and backing-up images every day – a MUST.
- Clothing and other gear for the sub-Antarctic.
- Dealing with seasickness, if it visits, on the expedition.
- Money Matters on board MV Ushuaia.
- Travel documents, personal items & clothing checklist
- Personal medical items checklist.
The information in this PDF will help you on a number of aspects so that you return home with a great collection of iconic images, and many magnificent memories.
A copy of the PDF will be provided to all participants registering with Iconic Images, upon receipt of final payment for the expedition.
It will be distributed approximately 45 days before the commencement of the expedition.
In addition to the above PDF, you will be provided with specific documentation by JVOPS following registration and payment of fees.