Fit for a Prince? No, Fit for a King!
Whilst political Falkland sabres are gently rattled in Buenos Aires and Whitehall before being quietly sheathed , several million King penguins in nearby South Georgia ply their lonely furrows unconcerned by royalty or politicians.
For years polar companies have chanced their arms and flirted with stand-alone Georgia programmes, realising that the measly two days normally allocated there are nothing like enough. However, there has seemingly been no way around the accessibility and time problems, despite almost every effort being made. Exodus is not going to let a bit of 30 year anniversary posturing put off this ten-year-old quest for a South Georgia expedition and we are proud to announce we’ve cracked it!
The migration of the wildebeest and zebras may perhaps vie with South Georgia as the greatest wildlife spectacle on Earth but to South Sea aficionados, nothing comes close to Georgia. The most marketable and valuable commodity in such a savage Eden is time, lots of it. The weather is a capricious and frequently a shrewish mistress in these freezing waters and can spook and swipe you just when you think you have her tamed.
Some ships include this as part of a longer itinerary but for the most un-alloyed wildlife nirvana, eight concentrated days in her burgeoning bosom is an ornithological orgy previously thought unworkable. Not any longer. Using a direct overnight charter straight into the Falklands from London, we will then charter the magnificent Akademik Sergey Vavilov for two weeks in the South Seas. One flight, no accommodation before or after, straight on board and off to the remote yet beautiful island of plenty.
This is a photographic charter with both myself and Mark Cawardine on board. This does not mean it is just for photographers, although the rewards are off the scale. Both know the erratic nature of the winds and currents here, so will be putting a long shift to make sure every moment is eked out of this prolific island that captivated the likes of Shackleton and Wild.
Early starts and extended landings amongst the legions of penguins, petrels, seals and albatrosses should be enough to sate even the most voracious fauna appetite. The ship only carries one hundred passengers and it is already half full. It is highly unlikely to ever be done again, eight whole days in Georgia with a landing or two in the Falklands before a direct, yes direct, flight home.
Are we excited about this? Yes, of course we are. We've waited years for it. For the penguins it'll be business as usual, but there must be something special about this place - six million of them can't be wrong.
By Exodus' Paul Goldstein