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Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and Falkland Islands
Scotia Arc Tectonics, Climate and Life
December 27, 2012 to January 20, 2013

Geological Society of America 125th Anniversary logo

The Jackson School of Geosciences logo

This once-in-a-lifetime expedition will explore science, nature and landscape from the comfort and safety of our 117-meter ice ship Akademik Ioffe on an in-depth 22-day voyage to the richest and most dramatic sights in Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. Travel with renowned professors and scientists: Ian Dalziel, Richard Alley, Rob Dunbar, and Rudolph Trouw.

In a unique collaboration, the Geological Society of America, University of Texas at Austin's Jackson School of Geosciences, and Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris are coming together to celebrate GSA's 125th anniversary, hosting a voyage for geologists, naturalists, photographers and explorers.

Read the full trip itinerary to sign-up!
Contact us or fill out our online request for more information!

Something for Everyone

Since 1994, Cheesemans' has operated the longest, most in-depth expedition to Antarctica that offers something of interest for everyone. Marvel at the abundance of wildlife in a beautiful landscape. Photograph Humpback Whales surfacing next to icebergs of unbelievable hues. Add depth to your experience with lectures and interactions from our staff of experts. Attend classes in illustration to enhance your field work. Most of all, just sit-back and enjoy the most beautiful landscape in the world from our comfortable ship.

Scenic overlook in Antarctica
Surveying South Georgia

For the geologist, whether amateur or professional, this voyage is a particularly unique opportunity. Renowned climate scientists Rob Dunbar and Richard Alley and structural geologists Ian Dalziel and Rudolph Trouw will share vast Antarctic knowledge through lectures, informal talks and fieldtrips. Talks will range from introductory to in-depth; catering to folks with a casual interest in geology to folks with a scientific background in the science.

Our staff of four esteemed geologists will be joined by both professional and amateur colleagues to provide the opportunity to connect with a diverse sampling of the world's geological community.

Antarctic Fur Seal
Antarctic Fur Seal

Our Antarctic journey provides unequalled opportunities for watching wildlife. Day after day you will be treated to scenes of penguins tending their feisty and charming chicks. Find yourself in a colony of 200,000 King Penguins or among huge numbers of Gentoo, Chinstrap, Adelie, Rockhopper, Macaroni and Magellanic penguins passionately displaying during the short Antarctic summer. Encounter Humpbacks and other whales as they surface next to our zodiacs among deep-blue icebergs. Watch as albatross with seven-foot wingspans soar gracefully and raise families in this productive environment. Observe enormous Elephant Seals, Leopard and Weddell Seals on ice floes, and handsome Fur Seal adults and pups.

Our good reputation is based on providing the most time in the field in the best season and location to enjoy and photograph wildlife. Your wildlife encounter is enhanced by limiting our group size so we can all go ashore simultaneously, hiring enough zodiac drivers so we can all zodiac cruise together, scheduling each day to maximize time in the best wildlife locations, finding the most knowledgeable naturalists to help us locate wildlife, and our willingness to think outside the box.

Take a look at our long species list (PDF) from our past expedition.

Black-browed Albatross
Black-browed Albatross

A voyage to the Antarctic is incomplete without an appreciation of the incredible birdlife of the Southern Ocean. While sailing, naturalists will be on the ship's deck to identify seabirds (and marine mammals), share information, and to help you distinguish between the many species of albatross, prions and petrels circling our ship. From identifying the newly subdivided great albatross species, to spotting your first Emperor Penguin in the ice of the Weddell Sea, to helping you uncover an egg exchange between King Penguins, our expedition staff will make this your best birding voyage in the Southern Ocean.

Take a look at our long species list (PDF) from our past expedition.

Photographing Penguins
Photographing penguins on an iceberg

One of our top priorities is to help you bring home the best photos possible to showcase this ultimate expedition. A critical part of our staff will be several professional photographers who thrive on sharing their techniques and compositional insights during lectures, informal walks, and fieldtrips. We make special efforts go ashore when the light is best and for longer periods of time than any other tour in Antarctica for unfettered, unhurried photography. While onshore, our experienced staff is always on the lookout for scenic landscapes and photogenic wildlife to share with you. Our knowledgeable staff also drives the zodiacs, not the ship's crew, so you can be assured that your driver will help you get the best images possible.

Take a look at our photo gallery from our past expeditions.

Drawing class
Drawing class in the field

Have you always admired the artist's hand but never managed anything more than a stick figure? Whether you are adept with a paintbrush or all thumbs with a drawing pad, you are welcome to join our wildlife illustration workshop conducted by our expedition staff member and professional wildlife illustrator, Edward Rooks. The workshop begins on board with classes in basic wildlife forms and then expands to drawing live subjects in the field where you will discover that penguins are wonderful and easy subjects. Edward has a long history of giving drawing classes and is known for his patient and easy-to-learn style. These classes promise to develop your eye to enrich your observation of the finer details of nature.

Exploring South Georgia
Exploring South Georgia

Many Antarctic voyages tout the ship as if it were the destination and shuffle you ashore for a minimal amount of time. We have a very different attitude - we see the ship as a base from which to go forth to explore these unique environs. Our aim is for you to spend as much time as you desire doing what you want within the bounds of safety and environmental responsibility.

The Antarctic landscape is quite accessible to exploration, especially in South Georgia, giving us the opportunity to hike up to high vantage points with spectacular views of the coastline, glaciers and penguin colonies. Our expedition staff member Tim Carr is an accomplished mountaineer with a long history in South Georgia, and loves nothing more than to stretch his legs with the most enthusiastic of our travelers. One of our potential hikes retraces the last leg of Ernest Shackleton's epic self-rescue, from the northwest into the now-abandoned Stromness whaling station, land that until just a short century ago was totally unknown to human eyes.

South Georgia Museum
South Georgia Museum

We will find little evidence of humans during our journey, but the stories will loom large from the few relics that we do encounter. From the grave of Sir Ernest Shackleton in Cumberland Bay on South Georgia to the stone shelter that Nordenskjöld's stranded party over-wintered in on Paulet Island in the Weddell Sea, these reminders serve as catalysts for bringing history alive. Few can weave a spellbinding story of Antarctic history like our historian Pauline Carr. As author of the intriguing exploration of South Georgia, Antarctic Oasis and longtime curator of the South Georgia whaling and natural history museum, Pauline is uniquely qualified to convey Antarctic history. Our unique itinerary is the perfect platform for exploring a history that comes alive with heroism like no other.

Read more about the historic aspects of our visit to South Georgia.

Lemaire Channel, Antarctica
Lemaire Channel, Antarctica

We at Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris are veterans of decades of Antarctic explorations, and in this time we realized that the travelers who enjoy Antarctica the most are those who stop, sit and take the time to discover this fantastically alive, raw and pristine environment. It is our goal that everyone feels a bit of this enjoyment. It is not necessary to fill your schedule with photography, science, hiking, lectures and other activities to fully experience this wonderful place - you only need to open your soul to some of the most striking natural beauty this planet has to offer.

From the ship and shore you will be constantly surrounded by landscapes and iceberg studded seascapes dramatic in scale and sublime in beauty. Once on shore, you rarely need to walk more than a few feet to be surrounded by wildlife, seals and penguins busily living their lives at the height of this short summer breeding season. You can hike, carry around large cameras to capture every image, and study every rock or every movement of an animal, or you can just settle in and enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience of the Antarctic.

Expedition Summary

Dates: December 27, 2012 to January 20, 2013

Itinerary: Read the full itinerary, including day-by-day description, costs, staff, and ship details plus how to sign up. See answers to frequently asked questions about this voyage.

Cost: Ranges from $12,790 to $23,790 per person, not including airfare.

Leaders and Staff: Ted Cheeseman, Expedition Leader, Professor Ian Dalziel, Scientific Leader from The University of Texas at Austin, along with 13 more expert staff members.

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Group Size: 96 participants not including our staff. With fewer than 100 passengers, everyone can land at once, rather than in two groups, giving you more time on shore!

Ship: The Akademik Ioffe is 117 meters long and has a maximum speed of 14.5 knots.

Total Days: 25, with 22-days aboard our ship.

Conditions: A non-smoking expedition for people who are very interested in all aspects of the Antarctic environment with a focus on geology.


December 27 - 28 Flights to Santiago, Chile.
December 29 Flight from Santiago, Chile to Stanley, Falkland Islands, and embark on the Akademik Ioffe.
December 30 Sea Lion Island, Falklands.
December 31 - January 1 Sail to South Georgia.
January 2 - 6 South Georgia, the Crown Jewel of the Southern Ocean.
January 7 - 8 Sail to the South Orkney Islands.
January 9 South Orkney Islands.
January 10 - 11 Sail the eastern Antarctic Peninsula and Weddell Sea.
January 12 South Shetland Islands.
January 13 - 15 Antarctic Peninsula.
January 16 South Shetland Islands.
January 17 - 18 Sail to Ushuaia, Argentina.
January 19 - 20 Disembark the Akademik Ioffe and flights homeward.

Read the full trip itinerary

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All material © Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris.
All photos © Doug or Ted Cheeseman, unless otherwise credited.

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