South Georgia Explorer

Small Group Photography & Wildlife Expedition

Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

15 Days


From US$ 13,795





Embark on a 15-day wildlife and photography adventure in South Georgia with Secret Atlas. This unique expedition offers ample time ashore to observe wildlife up close and personal. With just 48 guests on board and a small expedition vessel, you’ll have an intimate experience and access 100% of landing sites, some of them are restricted to ships carrying over 50 guests. 

Leading the expedition is a team of renowned experts, each bringing their own unique expertise and passion to enhance your journey.

Mariano Curiel, the expedition leader, boasts over two decades of experience guiding polar expeditions. His pioneering spirit and respect for the polar regions make him the ideal leader for this adventure. Having traversed Antarctica, Greenland, and Svalbard, Mariano’s expertise ensures a meticulously managed and exceptional journey. 

Paul Copestake is a bird expert with a deep connection to Antarctica, spanning three generations. His extensive fieldwork and study have led him to South Georgia, where he explores the magic of its wildlife. With a wealth of knowledge in biology and science, Paul shares captivating anecdotes and stories, deepening your understanding and appreciation of South Georgia’s birdlife and its conservation. Fun fact: ‘Copestake Peak’ in South Georgia was named after him. 

Jonas Beyer, a seasoned wildlife photographer, will guide you through the world of capturing the essence of the polar regions. With extensive experience in Greenland, Svalbard, Antarctica, and beyond, Jonas’s award-winning photography showcases his talent for immortalizing nature’s beauty. Under his guidance, you’ll receive invaluable tips to enhance your own photography skills, creating stunning visual memories.

Download Brochure See Dates and Rates

A word from Mariano Curiel, Expedition Leader

The night is dark, we are at anchor, the form of a mountainous landscape can barely be perceived and the resonant sounds from the beasts on the shores complete the picture. The water moves as hundreds of seals and penguins surround our ship, and the Southern Cross stands out as a witness confirming to us that we are actually there. This is a moment in South Georgia Island, an enchanted remote spot hidden in the Southern Ocean where expedition days are big, the immensity of wildlife conquers every angle of our attention, and where the heavy footsteps of some of the greatest polar explorers in history are sensed in first person. This is the place where the Boss rests in peace, where the albatrosses bread and fly free, and where huge abandoned whaling stations act as the living memory of what humans can do. 
In brief, South Georgia delivers one of the most intense wildlife encounters that I have always experienced, with an additional layer of vivid history and conservation learned lessons. I find it impossible to compare to other places, even more so as part of my heritage told the South Georgia story about 70 years ago, a very different one when my grandfather did some seasons stationed at Grytviken.

Expedition Highlights

  • A rare opportunity to join an in-depth exploration of South Georgia with extended time ashore.
  • Encounter South Georgia’s wildlife. This trip has the most time spent ashore viewing king penguin colonies, elephant seals, fur seals and an abundance of birdlife including albatrosses.
  • Explore key wildlife sites including Prion Island, Saint Andrews Bay, Salisbury Plain and Gold Harbour.
  • Small, intimate group size. The ship takes just 48 and ashore guests are in a group of 12.
  • Numerous opportunities to photograph South Georgia’s wild and stunning landscapes from the ship and shore.
  • Develop your photography skills in the field with our highly experienced photography guides.
  • Led by highly experienced expedition leaders and photography guides.
  • Comfortable, and intimate ice-strengthened expedition vessel.
  • Access to all landing sites (some are restricted to over 50 guests)

Learn and Develop New Photography Skills

Our photography guides offer assistance where required to help you improve your skills and get the best images possible. Where time allows tutorials will be carried out onboard, but the emphasis is always on maximising time outside in the field.

Our expedition team has extensive experience in SouthGeorgia and will seek out the optimal places for photography based on the conditions.

Wildlife Highlights in February and March

Each season offers amazing opportunities for encountering South Georgia’s wildlife. Our later season voyage offers a wondrous spectacle of nature that is ideal or photographers and wildlife lovers looking to see the newly born animals.

Expect an abundance of baby fur seals which cover South Georgia’s beaches at this time of year which makes an excellent photographic subject that you will not find during other months.

February and March offers the unique opportunity to land on Prion Island, which is closed to visitors for most of the season and off limits to larger ships year round, to witness the spectacle of Wandering Albatross’s feeding their newborn chicks at their nests.

Young king penguins are starting to test the cold waters for the first time at the rookeries in Saint Andrews Bay and Salisbury plain. Gentoo, Macaroni and Chinstrap penguins gather in large creches as they start to fledge.

This season is the most active for marine life and offers the best opportunities for whale watching in South Georgia and species such as minke, humpback, fin and orcas are at their most numerous.

The Voyage

Day 1 LATAM flight landing at Mount Pleasant Airport, Falkland Islands (flight not included). Transfer bus to the harbour for embarkation at 16:00 Local Time.

Day 2-3 At Sea

Day 4 First landing on South Georgia

Day 5 – 12 Exploring South Georgia

Day 13 – 14 At Sea

Day 15 Arrive Port Stanley, disembarkation set at 09:00 Local Time. Transfer bus to Mount Pleasant Airport (flight not included).

For guests looking for assistance booking their LATAM flights please contact our flight booking partner Exito Travel who will be happy to assist you.


South Georgia photo tour

South Georgia Photography Tour Day by Day

Day 1

Falkland Islands

In the afternoon we embark Polar Pioneer in Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands ready for an adventure of a lifetime. The Falkland Islands are accessible by flights from Chile and the UK (flights not included). A transfer bus will take you from Mount Pleasant Airport to the harbour for embarkation. We will depart late afternoon and set sail towards South Georgia. We highly recommend extending your stay before or after our expedition. Falkland Islands Holidays offer tailor-made itineraries for all kinds of travelers. Whether you’re into birdwatching, photography, war history, fishing, or simply want to explore the wildlife, community, geography, and hospitality of the islands, they have the perfect itinerary for you. More info here

Day 2 – 3

Sailing to South Georgia

As we sail across the Scotia sea towards South Georgia we will spend time on deck looking out for wildlife. Wandering Albatrosses often follow the ship. In the water it is possible to see whales and Orcas. During the sea days our guiding team will do lectures on the wildlife, history and geology of South Georgia. In the afternoon of day 3 we will sight South Georgia for the first time.

Day 4 – 7

Exploring South Georgia

The plan is to sail along the entire coast of South Georgia and to make landings on all the days. The main focuses of this expedition is to visit as many wildlife sites as possible. South Georgia is home to 450,000 king penguins offering some of the greatest concentrations of wildlife on the planet. We aim to visit key penguin breeding colonies at St Andrew’s Bay, Salisbury Plain and Gold Harbour. An advantage of a longer trip allows is that it allows us a much larger weather window to visit different sites.

Day 8 – 12

Exploring South Georgia

Other landing sites could include Prion Island to see nesting albatrosses, a site that is only accessible to ships carrying under 50 guests. Cooper Bay on the islands south is home to Macaroni penguins living in the tussock grass. Alongside wildlife, South Georgia is home to fascinating history and we will visit Grytviken, a former whaling station on South Georgia and home to the grave of explorer Ernest Shackleton. We also plan to explore the Drygalski fjord home to some of the islands most breathtaking landscapes.

Day 13 – 15

At Sea & Falkland Islands

As we sail towards the Falkland Islands our guiding team will do a series of lectures to finish off our exciting adventure. The final 2 sailing days offers a chance to relax onboard, take a sauna and share stories from the expedition with fellow guests. On safe arrival in Port Stanley we will disembark after breakfast on the final day.

The above itinerary is a guide only. A part of any expedition is the flexibility to take advantage of the weather conditions which are highly variable in South Georgia. Our expedition team will make sure you see as much as possible.

Inside This South Georgia Expedition

Our trips are aimed at anyone with a passion for exploring South Georgia with a small group of like minded individuals on a comfortable small ship cruise and include :

small expedition ship

Expedition Vessel With 48 Guests

We believe the best way to experience an environmentally sensitive place such as South Georgia is with a small group of travelers. New expedition cruise ships now take up to 350 passengers, we believe smaller is better and that is why we take the smallest group sizes available.

Expedition Leader and Guides

An aspect of our journeys is to learn about the place you are visiting. Our onboard guides are the core of what we do and will share their passion and knowledge of South Georgia throughout the trip. We offer the best guide to guest ratio available, and have 5 expert guides, one for every 10 guests.

Zodiac landing craft for shore landings

Shore landings are the essence of every expedition and your guides will take you exploring on a daily basis. The vessel is equipped with 6 landing craft that can be used to reach remote beaches so you can experience the wilderness firsthand. The beauty of a small ship expedition is that everyone onboard can fit in a Zodiac at the same time, so no waiting to go ashore.

Climate Compensated

We’re serious about the environment and wildlife, which is why we’re proud to be a member of 1% for the Planet—an organisation dedicated to supporting impactful global projects that give back to our planet.

Meet Your Guides

Paul Copestake in Scotland

Paul Copestake
Bird Expert

Paul is a passionate ornithologist with a deep connection to Antarctica. Through fieldwork and expeditions, he has gained extensive experience on South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula. Paul’s love for birds, coupled with his scientific background, makes him a valuable asset on any expedition. He is committed to bird conservation and eagerly shares his knowledge and experiences with others. When not exploring the Scottish Highlands, Paul resides in Ullapool with his family, contributing to national bird surveys.

Read more

Mariano Curiel
Expedition Leader

Mariano, an experienced polar guide and expedition leader from Argentina, has dedicated over two decades to exploring and leading projects in the polar regions. After his first encounter with Antarctica, he was captivated by the polar landscapes and never looked back. Mariano’s expertise spans across Antarctica, Greenland, and Svalbard, where he has participated in over two hundred sea, land, and ice-based expeditions. He holds the distinction of being the first Argentinian to ski across Greenland in 2016.

Read more
Jonas Beyer Svalbard profile picture

Jonas Beyer
Photography Expert

Jonas is an experienced wildlife photographer specializing in the polar regions. He has worked as a guide and expedition leader in Greenland, Norway, Svalbard, Antarctica, Uganda, and South Africa. In 2018, Jonas won awards in the National Geographic photo contest and for the best nature photo in Denmark. With a deep love for wildlife, he engages in captivating experiences like swimming with killer whales, hiking among musk oxen, and seeking out polar bears.

Read more

Your Expedition Ship

MV Polar Pioneer

south georgia expedition vessel

Step aboard the legendary MV Polar Pioneer, a true polar expedition ship

MV Polar Pioneer needs no introduction. She is a veteran expedition ship with a proven track record exploring the polar regions. She returns in 2022 with a full refurbishment.

We love her because she was built for research in the polar regions before being converted into an expedition ship for polar cruises, she is 1-A Ice Class, very strong and capable to explore icy waters.

She takes just 48 passengers offering the lowest group size in Antarctica and South Georgia, her large deck space with raised areas makes her perfect for observation and photography.

There is accommodation for 48 guests across twins, triple cabins and suites, she features a large passenger saloon with bar, and an onboard sauna to warm up in after a day in the cold,

She is crewed by a team of experts with decades of experience navigating polar waters, and is the ideal ship for guests looking to go on a real expedition with an authentic expedition vessel.

She is equipped with Zodiacs that can accommodate all guests for shore landings and exploring. See her in action here.

The Polar Pioneer can transit open water crossings with ease and comfort due to its integrated dynamic water ballast system, which guarantees a great reduction of rolling in heavy seas.

As a result, Polar Pioneer is among one of the most stable vessels currently in operations in the Polar regions.

  • Capable expedition vessel with highest ice class gives the best chance of reaching the sea ice edge
  • Small group size of 48 guests ensures an intimate experience
  • Large passenger saloon with bar
  • Newly refurbished to a high standard with warm, comfortable cabins
  • Sauna
  • Equipped with 5 x zodiacs for shore landings. All guests can fit in the Zodiacs together so no waiting to go ashore.
  • Large open deck space and raised areas for photography
  • Expert team of crew and guides
  • Boots provided for shore landings

See Vessel

Dates and Prices

Prices quoted are per person. Twin and double cabins are based on double occupancy.

Download Brochure

24th February – 9th March 2024

South Georgia & Falklands Wildlife and Photography Expedition

23rd September – 9th October 2024

Cabin typePersons per cabinPrice per person 
Porthole Cabin2US$ 13,795 Book
Deluxe Veranda Cabin2US$ 16,895 Book


Captain's Suite - Type A

  • For 2 Guests
  • Double bed
  • Ensuite shower and toilet
  • Lounge area with sofa
  • Located on deck 5
  • Windows
  • Corner desk & chair
  • Wardrobe
  • Cabins 501
  • 22.5 m2

Mini Suite -Type B

  • For 2 Guests
  • Double bed
  • Ensuite shower and toilet
  • Lounge area with sofa
  • Located on deck 5
  • Windows
  • Corner desk & chair
  • Wardrobe
  • Cabins 502 & 503
  • 16.8 m2

Twin with Private Facilities - Type C

  • For 2 guests
  • 2 Lower twin beds
  • Ensuite shower and toilet
  • 9.8 m²
  • Located on deck 4 & 5
  • Window
  • Wardrobe
  • Cabins 504 - 507, 400-401, 404 - 408

Twin with Shared Facilities - Type D

  • For 2 guests
  • 2 Lower twin beds
  • Sink in room
  • 9.8 m²
  • Located on deck 3
  • Porthole
  • Wardrobe
  • Cabins 302 - 310

Triple with Shared Facilities - Type E

  • For up to 3 guests
  • 2 Lower twin beds and 1 bunk bed
  • Sink in room
  • 10.2 m²
  • Located on deck 3
  • Porthole
  • Wardrobe
  • Cabins 300 & 301

Deck Plan

polar pioneer deck plan
Departure Location Port Stanley, Falkland Islands
Arrival Location Port Stanley, Falkland Islands
Trip Style Exploration
Physical Rating Easy
Maximum Group Size 48
Accommodation Twin Cabins, Triple and Suites
Duration 15 Days
Time of Year February
Not Included

We offer payment via the following methods:

  • Credit card
  • Payment by bank transfer

Please let us know at the time of booking your preferred method.

You have the option to pay in full at time of booking or pay in the following instalments:

30% deposit is taken at the time of booking

30% 6 months before departure

40%  90 days prior to departure

It is mandatory you take out comprehensive travel insurance at the time of booking that also covers cancellation.

Solo travellers are welcome on all our voyages. We often host solo travellers, particularly on our photo voyages so the chances are you won’t be the only one. We offer the following accommodation options:

  • Option to share a twin cabin with another traveller of the same gender.
  • Option to have your own cabin for an additional supplement. Please contact us for this option as the price varies depending on trip and availability.

This trip is operated by Secret Atlas and is subject to the Secret Atlas terms and conditions of travel. You can read the full booking terms here.

South Georgia Useful Information

How To Get To South Georgia and The Falkland Islands

Our South Georgia cruises depart from the Falkland Islands. Find out how to get there.

Read More

South Georgia Wildlife Guide

Learn about all the beautiful wildlife that calls South Georgia its home and get a feel for what you will encounter.

Read More

South Georgia Facts

Do you know who was the first explorer to land on South Georgia? Find out here.

Read More