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Atlantic Odyssey: The Ornis Special

Join us on one of the best seabird cruises in the world! This is sure to be an exciting time on the ocean, full of laughs and excellent birds. In fact, it was during a cruise to the subantarctic on which Dani and Josh first met, culminating in two life-long careers of bird tour leading, for better or for worse! From Spectacled Petrel and Northern Rockhopper Penguin to Saint Helena Plover and Inaccessible Island Rail, we will cross our fingers for the best of luck on this incredible voyage. But remember, our leaders never rest, so we will certainly be making our own luck!

Next Dates

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Price: $

TBD

Leaders:

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Single Room Supplement: $

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Group Size Limit:

20

Deposit: $

TBD

Add a Title

Price: $

TBD

Leaders:

Add a Title

Single Room Supplement: $

TBD

Group Size Limit:

Deposit: $

TBD

Prices below reflect lowest-cost options in quadruple-share, twin-share, and single cabins. Please contact us for information and rates of variation to triple-share, twin window, deluxe, or suite.


Pretour extension to the Antarctic Peninsula is available from $6,000 USD. Anyone taking the pretour extension in combination with the entire route through to Cape Verde receives a 10% discount on their entire booking. 


QUADRUPLE PORTHOLE (PER PERSON)

Ushuaia to Saint Helena: $9,050 USD

Ushuaia to Cape Verde: $11,500 USD 


TWIN PORTHOLE (PER PERSON)*

Ushuaia to Saint Helena: $11,350 USD

Ushuaia to Cape Verde: $14,600 USD

*if you do not have a specified roommate, one will be randomly allocated to share your twin room. If you wish to occupy the whole room by yourself, see the single occupancy price below. 


TWIN PORTHOLE (SINGLE OCCUPANCY)

Ushuaia to Saint Helena: $19,295 USD

Ushuaia to Cape Verde: $24,820 USD


Deposit: 20% of your total booking cost, due closer to the date. Contact us now to reserve a cabin!

Accommodation:

Comfortable cabins aboard the MV Hondius.

Walking difficulty:

Easy walking during all excursions on the islands.

Tour cost includes:

All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.

Tour cost excludes:

Flights before and after the tour start/end, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, tips to vessel staff, laundry, drinks, and other items of a personal nature.

Day 0: We recommend arriving early to Ushuaia, to make sure you don’t “miss the boat”, so-to-speak! This day is not included in the tour cost, but we will organise some excursions to search out White-bellied Seedsnipe and the scarce Yellow-bridled Finch for those interested. Gentoo Penguin, Fuegian Steamer Duck, Dark-bellied Cinclodes, and Blackish Cinclodes can also be enjoyed in the area.


Day 1: The voyage begins where the world drops off. Starting in the afternoon, we embark from Ushuaia, “The End of the World”, and sail the mountainous Beagle Channel for the rest of the evening.


Day 2-3-4: En route to South Georgia. After passing the Antarctic Convergence, which is a natural boundary formed when north-flowing cold waters of the Antarctic collide with warmer subantarctic waters, the birdlife changes. Tubenoses become incredibly abundant. Eyes trained not on the horizon, but right beside the ship, we will enjoy the passing throngs of Cape Petrel, Black-bellied Storm-Petrel, and Antarctic Prion, while we work to identify South Georgian Diving Petrel and watch out for spectacular cetaceans like Hourglass Dolphin. Passing by will be the aerial masters of subantarctic: Kerguelen Petrel, Soft-plumaged Petrel, Blue Petrel, Southern Fulmar, Slender-billed Prion, Light-mantled Albatross, Grey-headed Albatross, Southern Royal Albatross, and the ruler of them all, Wandering Albatross.


Day 5-6-7: Exploring South Georgia. Vast nesting colonies of King Penguin and Southern Elephant Seal. Up close and personal with Wandering Albatross, Grey-headed Albatross, and Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, all displaying in courtship and synchronised flights to cement their lifelong pair bonds. Hefty Southern Giant Petrels fighting, as bizarre Snowy Sheathbills pick through the colonies. The endemic South Georgia Pipit is now in full recovery and easy to see after a successful rat eradication, as is South Georgia Shag and the endemic subspecies of Yellow-billed Pintail. We can’t forget the sublime “Lesser” Snow Petrel and strange Macaroni Penguin, hopefully with a handful of Chinstrap Penguins hanging around. And the scenery… words cannot do it justice; you will have to experience it for yourself!


Day 8-9-10-11-12: En route to Gough Island. Some of the very best pelagic birding in the entire world. Crossing back into warmer subantarctic waters, we will begin to see Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, Sooty Albatross, Atlantic Petrel, Kerguelen Petrel, Grey Petrel, Great-winged Petrel, Great Shearwater, Grey-backed Storm Petrel, White-bellied Storm Petrel, Arctic Jaeger, Pomarine Jaeger, and Long-tailed Jaeger on their way back to the Northern Hemisphere. Many possible cetaceans could include Humpback Whale, Fin Whale, Sei Whale, or maybe Strap-toothed Whale or Southern Bottlenose Whale. Approaching Gough will be marked by the appearance of Tristan Albatross, Spectacled Petrel, Subantarctic Shearwater, and White-faced Storm Petrel.


Day 13: Exploring Gough Island. Millions of breeding seabirds inhabit this World Heritage Area. Most of the world’s Northern Rockhopper Penguins and Tristan Albatross, along with Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, Sooty Albatross, Broad-billed Prion, Great Shearwater, Kerguelen Petrel, Great-winged Petrel, Atlantic Petrel, Soft-plumaged Petrel, Grey Petrel, Subantarctic Shearwater, Grey-backed, White-faced and White-bellied Storm Petrels, the small “Tristan” Brown Skua, Antarctic Tern, and Brown Noddy (a bit out of place, but yes they do breed here!). Weather permitting, a zodiac cruise will allow a close approach to see the two endemics: Gough Moorhen and Gough Bunting, interspersed with Subantarctic Fur Seals.


Day 14-15-16-17: Exploring the Tristan Group. Tristan da Cunha, with its impressive volcanic cone, is the main breeding site for the Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, which we can approach closely. Introduced cats are still present here, but many seabirds from Gough can be seen from the clifftops. The endemic Tristan Moorhen became extinct in the late 19th century, but Gough Moorhen was reintroduced here in the 1950s. Visiting the other two islands in the group (hosting immense seabird colonies and four endemics between them) is entirely weather dependent, but with an extra day now included in the Tristan Group on all cruises post-2019, we can cross our fingers. Nightingale Island holds Tristan Thrush and Tristan Bunting in relative abundance, but a longer hike is required for the Critically Endangered and rapidly declining Wilkins’s Finch, which is far from guaranteed these days. Inaccessible Island is almost entirely surrounded by sheer 300m high cliffs, but there are two potential landing beaches if conditions are calm. The world’s smallest flightless bird - and one of the most evocatively named - is quite common if we can get ashore: Inaccessible Island Rail. This is a breeding site for both Spectacled Petrel and Sooty Albatross, so we can expect some stellar views of these much-wanted seabirds on the ocean nearby.


Day 18-19-20-21: En route to Saint Helena. Heading towards and crossing the Tropic of Capricorn, we enter calmer subtropical seas. Fewer birds, but more on-deck barbeques and drinks! The southern tubenoses drop off as we begin to see warm-water species like Bulwer’s Petrel, “Saint Helena” Band-rumped Storm Petrel, Red-billed Tropicbird, Masked Booby, Brown Booby, White Tern, and Black Noddy. One likely cetacean in this area is Sperm Whale – our eyes will be peeled even during these periods of relative calm.


Day 22-23-24: Exploring Saint Helena. Landing at Jamestown, on this tiny island where Napoleon was exiled after his defeat at Waterloo in 1816. Only one Critically Endangered endemic remains on the island: Saint Helena Plover, which we should find without much difficulty on the Deadwood Plain. A boat trip is possible to some small islets on the west coast to look at breeding Red-billed Tropicbird, Masked Booby, Brown Booby, Brown Noddy, and Black Noddy. Common Bottlenose Dolphin, Rough-toothed Dolphin, and sometimes Whale Shark can be seen around the island. At the end of our third day, we begin steaming towards Ascension Island. Snorkelling and cultural experiences can be enjoyed, or a hike to the highest point on the island, where there is a small remnant of native vegetation with endemic ferns and cabbage trees.


*** Participants may choose to disembark at lunchtime on Day 24 and fly home from Saint Helena Airport (HLE) via South Africa. There are usually three flights a week to Johannesberg, so at most you will need to stay an extra two nights on the island after the boat departs. ***


Day 25-26: En route to Ascension Island. Sailing along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the sprawling submarine mountain range that runs about 16,000 km from the Arctic Ocean toward the southern tip of Africa. Birds will be sparse, but should include our first Cory’s Shearwater and Leach’s Storm Petrel. Towards the end of the journey, we will keep careful watch for “Ascension” Band-rumped Storm Petrel.


Day 27-28: Exploring Ascension Island. The tropical volcanic island hosts the Vulnerable endemic Ascension Frigatebird, which we will be able to enjoy during a zodiac cruise around rat-free Boatswain Bird Island just off the northeast coast. We can enjoy the large Sooty Tern colony and hike up to the richly vegetated summit of the island. Long sandy beaches are a major breeding site for Atlantic Green Turtles, which we may be able to see one evening as they come ashore.


Day 29-30-31-32-33: En route to Cape Verde. Crossing the Equator and the Doldrums = more drinks on deck! Some of the same tropical seabirds from the past week, hopefully with a Cape Verde Storm Petrel or two! Long-tailed Jaegers, Sabine’s Gulls and Arctic Terns on northwards spring migration, with chances for Clymene Dolphin and Spinner Dolphins. On final approach, we should see Cape Verde Shearwater and Boyd’s Shearwater, as well as Fea’s Petrel.


Day 34: Arrival into Praia on Santiago Island, with some time for exploring the town and watching Cape Verde Swifts overhead. Lunch is not included, but you can come and go from the ship, leaving your luggage onboard until the official disembarking hour of 18:00.

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