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  • Photograph of Northern (Tristan) Rockhopper Penguins

    Northern or Tristan Rockhopper Penguins by John Foster.

    ATLANTIC ODYSSEY

    Best Wildlife on the Atlantic Odyssey

    Mammals
    This list is for the Ushuaia-Ascension Island section.
    Humpback, Killer, Fin, Sei, Sperm, Southern Bottlenose, Antarctic Minke and (Long-finned) Pilot Whales, Dusky, Hourglass and (Pantropical) Spotted Dolphins, Southern Elephant Seal, Antarctic and Subantarctic Fur Seals, and Crabeater and Weddell Seals. Also a chance of Blue, Southern Right (mostly Oct-Nov) and several beaked whales, Clymene Dolphin, Leopard Seal and Southern Sealion, and an outside chance of Southern Right Whale Dolphin and Spectacled Porpoise. (Reindeer have been introduced to South Georgia.)

    Photograph of Humpback Whale

    Humpback Whale in Antarctica by Marie-France Grenouillet.


    Birds
    This list is for the Ushuaia-Ascension Island section. Most of the landbirds listed can be seen in Tierra del Fuego NP near Ushuaia in Southern Argentina where cruises usually start and finish.

    Specialities
    Yellow-billed (South Georgia) Pintail, Adelie, Chinstrap, Gentoo, King, Macaroni, Magellanic, (Southern) Rockhopper and Tristan Rockhopper Penguins, Black-browed, Grey-headed, Light-mantled, both Royal, Sooty, Tristan, Wandering and (Atlantic) Yellow-nosed Albatrosses, Antarctic, Atlantic, Grey, Kerguelen, Snow and Spectacled Petrels, South Georgia Diving Petrel, Antarctic and South Georgia Shags, White-throated Caracara, Pale-faced Sheathbill and Magellanic Woodpecker, as well as island endemics such as South Georgia Pipit, Gough Moorhen, Gough Bunting, Tristan Thrush, Inaccessible (Tristan) and Nightingale (Tristan) Buntings, St Helena Plover and Ascension Island Frigatebird. Also a chance of Spectacled Duck, Andean Condor, White-bellied Seedsnipe and Yellow-bridled Finch (both Garibaldi Pass and Martial Glacier near Ushuaia), and an outside chance of Emperor Penguin, Inaccessible Island Rail and Grosbeak (Wilkins’s) Bunting.

    Others
    Ashy-headed Goose, Great Grebe, Northern and Southern Giant Petrels, Southern Fulmar, Blue, Bulwer’s, Great-winged, Pintado, Soft-plumaged, White-chinned and White-headed Petrels, Antarctic, Broad-billed, Fairy and Slender-billed Prions, Cory’s, Great, Little and Sooty Shearwaters, Black-bellied, Grey-backed, Leach’s, Madeiran, White-bellied and Wilson's Storm Petrels, Common and Magellanic Diving Petrels, Red-billed and White-tailed Tropicbirds, Brown, Masked and Red-footed Boobies, Imperial and Rock Shags, Black-faced Ibis, Black-chested Buzzard Eagle, Dolphin Gull, Antarctic, Arctic, Sooty and White Terns, Black and Brown Noddies, Brown, Chilean and South Polar Skuas, Austral Parakeet, Thorn-tailed Rayadito and White-throated Treerunner. Also a chance of Shy Albatross.

    Reptiles
    Green Turtles nest on Ascension Island and may be seen laying their eggs in the beaches on organized night visits.

    Other Natural Wonders of the Atlantic Odyssey

    Antarctica Virtually the whole of the Antarctic continent is covered with ice, on average 3000 m (9800 ft) deep in the east, and much of the coastline is fringed with ice shelves about 200 m (650 ft) thick, pack ice and icebergs of every imaginable size and shape, so it is, more or less, completely picturesque.

    South Georgia A high, snowy mountain range in the middle of the Southern Ocean, 170 km (110 miles) long, and between 2 and 40 km (1.2 and 25 miles) wide. Above the numerous glaciers the sharp peaks rise to 2934 m (9626 ft).

    Southern Ocean The roughest ocean on Earth is a stirring sight in such conditions, a scene completed by the seabirds which make light of high seas and strong winds.

    Best Sites for Wildlife on the Atlantic Odyssey

    Best Times for Wildlife on the Atlantic Odyssey

    This cruise usually runs from mid-March to mid-April but bird and animal activity on South Georgia is usually at a peak in October-November when bull elephant seals fight and there are new and weaned pups on the beaches.

    Recommended Books etc. for the Atlantic Odyssey

    A Complete Guide to Antarctic Wildlife by H Shirihai. Helm, 2007 (Second Edition).

    Field Guide to the Birds of Chile including the Antarctic Peninsula, the Falkland Islands and South Georgia by A Jaramillo. Helm, 2003.

    Albatrosses, Petrels and Shearwaters of the World by D Onley and P Scofield. Helm, 2007.

    Seabirds: An Identification Guide by P Harrison. Helm, 1991.

    Whales, Dolphins and Seals by H Shirihai and B Jarrett. Helm, 2006.

    SASOL Birds of Southern Africa by I Sinclair et al. C Struik, 2011 (Fourth Edition).

    Birds of Africa south of the Sahara by I Sinclair and P Ryan. C Struik, 2011 (Second Edition).

    Newman's Birds by Colour by K Newman. C Struik, 2011 (Third Edition).

    Newman's Birds of Southern Africa by K and V Newman. C Struik, 2010 (Tenth Edition).

    Birds of Southern Africa by Ber Van Perlo. Harper Collins, 2009 (Second Edition).

    Roberts Bird Guide edited by H Chittenden. Africa Geographic, 2007.


    Apps etc.

    Antarctica Wildlife Guide.

    SASOL eBirds of Southern Africa.

    Newman's Birds of Southern Africa.

    Roberts Multimedia Birds of Southern Africa.

    Trip Reports for the Atlantic Odyssey

    Many trip reports, some for the Atlantic Odyssey, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize Atlantic Odyssey cruises. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Atlantic Odyssey Cruises' below.

    Local Guides and Tours

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation

    Some Organized Atlantic Odyssey Cruises

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    The most expensive cruises to Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands tend to be those on the largest and most lavish vessels where every cabin has private facilities, but it is the smaller vessels, with much smaller passenger numbers and mostly shared facilities, which enable greater and easier access to certain areas, and sometimes longer times ashore.

    Many tour companies, some of which are listed below, can organize Atlantic Odyssey Cruises, which are run by Oceanwide Expeditions.