Epic South Georgia

& The Falkland Islands

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It is the place on Earth where superlatives are born.  The pinnacle, the apex and the zenith of nature’s creation—there are no adequate words to describe the awesome beauty which is South Georgia.  This phenomenal sub-Antarctic island—102 miles long and 24 miles wide, a mere speck in the vast Southern Ocean—is crowned by a wreath of flowing glaciers covering half of its expanse.  The craggy scenery of South Georgia is no less spectacular than if the Alps had been plunged recklessly into the tempestuous South Atlantic.  Despite its extreme isolation, South Georgia ranks among the most vital breeding oases for one of the world’s greatest wildlife concentrations.
"South Georgia is a must-see destination. JVO Photo Safaris was a great way to see and photograph it."
- M. Goyen

If you’ve dreamed of visiting South Georgia, or longed to return to its rugged shores, our 2019 Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris Epic South Georgia cruise offers an incredible opportunity to experience this fabulous island of penguins and ice for 10 full days of unparalleled photography.  Our dedicated photo cruise visits the island’s most prolific wildlife habitats and scenic landscapes.  We make shore landings primarily on the island’s northeast coast that teems with wildlife and photo opportunities.

We are at South Georgia when occasional snowfall on the beaches is likely—the sight of tens of thousands of king penguins in the snow with serrate mountain and towering glacier backgrounds is breathtaking.  Southern elephant seals are pupping and the gigantic bull beachmaster seals are locked in titanic combat on the beaches—a spectacular event most visitors later in the season usually miss!  In October, aggressive bull Antarctic fur seals are still mostly at sea, which allows us access to nesting areas of gray-headed albatrosses and light-mantled sooty albatrosses (that are usually impossible, later).  The Antarctic fur seal population has grown so large that it is now often unmanageable to land on many beaches later in the season due to the increasing number of the dangerous aggressive bulls. In October, Prion Island is open to visitation and we photograph wandering albatrosses there. It closes to visitors later in November.

Photographing in South GeorgiaAs with our near-legendary Ultimate Antarctica photo cruises, our Epic South Georgia 2019 photography odyssey is an exclusive charter, and we direct all aspects of the cruise so photography and wildlife observation are second to no other activity aboard ship.  Once at South Georgia, travel time from location to location is very short, so we waste little time in transit.  We usually reposition at night.

During our cruise, participants’ photography and wildlife interests shape our plans.  On many days we stop at only one landing site, and our photography experience at these locations allows for virtually comprehensive coverage of the seasonal wildlife and rugged snowy landscapes.  On these full days with only one landing, logistics will not require all participants to leave the shore, and optional bag lunches extend your shore time, weather permitting.

King penguins on South GeorgiaAnd, finally, we are only enrolling 78 participants on this expedition—less than half the size of most other cruises that visit the sub-Antarctic.  Think of what that means in terms of the low number of people on board, our speed in getting to shore, and your ability to photograph and observe wildlife without scores of red-jacketed tourists in your frame.  It is a rare opportunity!

Our sturdy, repurposed, research-expedition ship allows us to travel comfortably while journeying to this magical land of penguins, mountains and glaciers.  We carry a fleet of Jacques Cousteau-designed Zodiac landing craft, allowing us to set foot on very isolated shores.  Perfectly suited to expedition cruising, these nimble craft enable passengers to travel in small groups and facilitate visits to some of the most spectacular wildlife concentrations in the world.

This South Georgia adventure is crafted to be everything you’ve hoped for—and more.  Yet this expedition is not a once-in-a-lifetime trip—one trip in a lifetime to South Georgia could never be enough!


Check out the trip report from our 2012 South Georgia photo cruise.
You can also download our Free eBook featuring dozens of client images from a past South Georgia trip

Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Depart from home.

Day 2 (Oct 9)
Arrive in Ushuaia, Argentina.  The hotel tonight is included in the tour fee.

Day 3
The morning is free to explore the southernmost city in the world.  An optional bus tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park with an asado (barbecue) lunch is available.  Stores and shops in easy walking distance from our hotel are open, presenting a chance to stock up on some personal “snacks” or purchase forgotten items.  In late afternoon we board our ship the MV Ushuaia and set sail to the Falkland Islands traversing the famous Beagle Channel. (BD)

Day 4
We start our journey following the "Scotia Arc," traveling with the prevailing current to the Falklands.  We see a variety of birds, including our first ship-following black-browed and wandering albatrosses and hundreds of petrels and other “tubenoses.”  On all "at sea" days throughout the cruise, there are discussions on photography, digital workflow, and natural history, as well as inspiring nature photo presentations.  Plus, if wind conditions are favorable, great bird flight shots can be made on deck. (All meals are included while aboard ship.)

Day 5
The first landing of our voyage takes place on Sea Lion Island situated 10 miles southeast of East Falkland—the largest island in the Falkland Archipelago.  A sheep farm for almost 100 years, Sea Lion Island is now a fantastic ecological reserve that provides great opportunities to photograph nesting gentoo penguins, Falkland steamer ducks, ruddy-headed geese and huge elephant seals.  Peale’s dolphins escort our Zodiacs to the beach and, with luck, a pod of orcas can be observed close to shore attracted by a potential meal of seals or penguins.  Our one-day schedule here allows us to break up the crossing time to South Georgia and we will return to the Falklands for two more days on our return trip.

Days 6–8
Departing the Falklands, our ship crosses the Scotia Sea. Although we are far from land, there is much to see, on deck or the bridge, if you are an active wildlife observer. Many birds follow the ship. Whales are a good possibility. Numerous leader presentations prepare us for the landings to come. Our course takes us across the Antarctic Convergence, the invisible boundary between the cold Antarctic waters and the warmer currents flowing from the South Atlantic.  We start to see the first icebergs.  Our next landfall is South Georgia, some 800 miles from the Falklands. Experiencing advantageous weather, we arrive at South Georgia the evening of Day 8 with a possible shore landing.

Days 9–18
With favorable crossing conditions we start our photography in earnest on Day 9.  The freezing effects of the Antarctic continent—1,000 miles to the south—dominate South Georgia’s climate.  Its landscape, reminiscent of the last ice age, is dotted with vast glaciers, meltwater streams, alluvial beaches and occasional offshore icebergs.  The topography offers incredible landscape photography prospects.

Millions of penguins make the island their home and, in some places, complete hillsides are covered with them.  There are more king penguins on South Georgia than on any other island on Earth and we visit their enormous colony—the incomparable Salisbury Plain—for two very full days of photography.


A quarter of a million albatrosses return here each year, including the spectacular wandering albatross.  With its 10-foot wingspan, the wandering albatross is a truly immense bird, and South Georgia is home to half the world's population.  Under the cover of darkness to avoid predators, an estimated 10 million other seabirds—shearwaters, petrels and prions—return each night to the nest.  Most of the small offshore islands are honeycombed with their underground burrows.  Now, after an innovative rat eradication program, the South Georgia seabird colony is expected to expand by 100 million birds over the next several years!

Elephant seal bulls fighting on the beachMore than 4 million Antarctic fur seals—95 percent of the world's population—pile onto the island later in the summer.  The total population is thought to be increasing by ten percent each year!  We are here early enough to miss the highest density of the aggressive bull seals and we should be able to reach the usually “inaccessible due to aggressive seals” nest sites of gray-headed albatrosses.  Half the world's population of southern elephant seals also comes to breed on South Georgia’s beaches.  The largest of all seals, males can be over 20 feet (6m) long and weigh 8,800 pounds (4,000kg) or more.  We are here at the height of the mating/fighting season—making for truly exciting photo opportunities!

Our ten days at South Georgia should allow us time to locate and photograph most of the more unusual nesting species, such as macaroni penguins, light-mantled sooty albatrosses and southern giant petrels, and give us time to find the best possible photo situations in several of the vast king penguin colonies.  Potential landings include Salisbury Plain and Prion Island in the Bay of Isles for king penguins and wandering albatrosses, and a day each at wildlife-packed St. Andrews Bay and Cooper Bay for good measure.  We have an extensive amount of flexibility built into our schedule and we direct our activities toward the best photographic situations possible.  The experience is exceptional.

Days 19–21
Our nature and photography lectures continue while at sea toward the Falklands.  The photographic potential for flight photography of wandering and black-browed albatrosses, northern and southern giant petrels, and Cape petrels is excellent during this crossing.

Oystercatcher in Falkland IslandsDays 22–23
Saunders, West Point and Carcass Islands on the northwest side of the Falklands round out our trip’s photo opportunities.  The “Neck” on Saunders features a large gentoo penguin colony with a throng of these photogenic birds riding the surf along with black-and-white Commerson’s dolphins.  Oystercatchers and steamer ducks parade along the beach while, on a nearby slope, rockhopper penguins and black-browed albatrosses are just starting their breeding season.

Carcass Island and West Point Islands are home to camera-friendly colonies of Magellanic penguins and cheeky striated caracaras.  Abundant ducks and small birds are found on Carcass since the island does not have introduced rats.  West Point has an albatross colony plus abundant caracaras, turkey vultures and black-crowned night herons.  We start our homeward voyage by late afternoon of Day 23.

Day 24
Today we are at sea en route to Ushuaia.

Day 25 (Nov 1)
Arriving in Ushuaia, we clear Customs, disembark the ship, and transfer to the airport to depart for home. (B)

Day 26
Arrive home

Please Note: The above itinerary is intended as an example only.  Participants should allow for flexibility due to changes in weather, natural history events, or other logistical arrangements deemed necessary by our leaders.

Rate Schedule
Standard: Twin outside cabins with portholes on Deck E, two berths (upper/lower), semi-private facilities*.
*Two cabins share one bathroom accessible from both cabins (shower and toilet). Each cabin is also equipped with its own washbasin.
Standard Plus: Twin outside cabins with portholes or windows on Deck E, two lower berths, private facilities   $16,995
Premier: Twin outside cabins with windows on Deck G, two lower berths, private facilities   $17,995
Superiors: Twin cabins with windows on Deck G, two lower berths, private facilities   $18,995
Suites: Twin cabins with windows on Deck G, two lower berths, private facilities, lounge, video, TV and fridge   $20,995

All prices above are per person based on double occupancy (except Premier Single Cabin category) from Ushuaia, Argentina and are shown in USD. The trip fee does not include airfare of any kind, transfers other than with the group, visas, excess baggage charges, airport departure taxes, tips for the ship’s crew, travel insurance, bottled water, beverages other than coffee, tea, milk and juice taken at meals, bar expenses, phone calls, faxes, email, laundry, or other items of a personal nature.









“This was my first Joseph Van Os expedition, and it was an outstanding and rewarding experience. I now see why so many of the participants I met were on their fourth, fifth, or sometimes eighth Van Os expedition. Having traveled with many other photography tour groups, I felt this company truly excelled in terms of quality of the staff, the knowledge and preparation in building the itinerary, and attention to details throughout the tour. From pre-trip planning to the completion of my tour, I was continuously impressed.”
G. Grubb
“In addition to out-of-this-world scenery and wildlife, we had the opportunity to photograph during the best light times of day, including very early in the morning. One unexpected bonus from the trip was the chance to learn from the other participants, as there were many world-class photographers in addition to the excellent leaders.”
P. Craig
“An outstanding trip, made all the more enjoyable by the leaders who were beyond anything I’ve experienced before—ensuring I got the very best experience—both from a photographic and wildlife point of view.”
H. Williams
“Wonderful scenery, incredible wildlife (and lots of it), plenty of opportunities to view each other’s images, and the most informative lectures.  A “not to be missed” trip!” 
M. McNamara
“South Georgia was more beautiful and rich in wildlife that I ever could have imagined!”  —
C. Kidd

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Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris Enrollment Information

Epic South Georgia

Oct 08, 2019 - Nov 02, 2019

A deposit and completed and signed Registration Form are required to reserve a place for you on a Joseph Van Os Photo Safari.


All prices are quoted in US dollars and all payments must be paid in US dollars. For deposits only, we accept Visa or MasterCard. Final payment of the trip fee is due 120 days priors to departure and must be paid by check or bank transfer. Trip deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable.
A deposit of 25% of the trip fee is required.  An additional  25% of the trip fee is due on 12/13/18.  Final payment is due on 5/4/19.  We must receive written notice of your cancellation, at which time the following fees are non-refundable:
If Written Cancellation is Received:                            Cancellation Fee:
12/15/18 or prior:                                                             50% of deposit
12/16/18 to 4/4/19:                                                           25% of trip fee
4/5/19 to 6/14/19:                                                             50% of trip fee
6/15/19 or after:                                                              100% of trip fee
Emergency evacuation insurance is REQUIRED for this tour. As noted in Section 3 below, we send a brochure for trip insurance to US and Canadian residents. The policy offered includes the emergency evacuation coverage required for this trip. Participants purchasing trip insurance on their own—that is, not through our office—should confirm that a minimum of $500,000 of emergency evacuation is included in their policy.

No partial refunds are made for unused portions or services of a trip for any reason whatsoever. Trips are sold as a package only. This policy also applies to tour extensions and independent travel arrangements. Cancellation fees are not transferable.

Protect your travel investment and purchase a trip insurance policy that includes emergency evacuation coverage. A trip insurance brochure will be sent with your enrollment confirmation.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris are within the capabilities of average people in good health. Some of these trips require the capability of walking for several miles over uneven trails, stepping from a small boat to a wave-washed rocky beach, flying in small planes and helicopters, and occasionally hiking at high elevations—all while carrying an assortment of camera equipment. If you have concerns about your own capabilities and/or fitness as it relates to a trip, please inquire with our office before reserving a space. By forwarding a signed Registration Form and trip deposit, you certify that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions of disability that would create a risk for you or other trip participants and you agree to inform our office in writing if changes in your health occur any time prior to the tour. We reserve the right to request a doctor's statement of good health. The company's or trip leader's judgment shall provide the ultimate determination of an individual's ability to embark upon or to continue a trip. Once a trip has been confirmed, medical circumstances will not be considered as exceptions to our cancellation policy. We assume no responsibility for medical care or for special dietary requirements. “Meatless” meals are normally available at most locations. Due to the remote nature of many photo locations, and the growing diversity of today’s dietary trends, participants requiring special food items are encouraged to bring their own.

Tour members are asked to refrain from smoking with or near the group.

Participants will receive three emails before the trip departs: 1. Initial Tour Information sheet confirms the deposit and provides pre-departure information. 2. Invoice/Practical Information provides clothing and photo gear recommendations, climate data, applicable health advisories and reading list. Visa information will also be included (if applicable). 3. Final Tour Information includes arrival instructions, itinerary revisions (if any), hotel addresses, trip telephone contact information and participant list. We provide the trip leader's telephone number(s) and/or e-mail address with final documents so you can inquire about special photographic questions you may have regarding your trip. We welcome your calls or e-mail messages to info@photosafaris.com.

Information supplied upon enrollment describes the specific costs that are included in your trip fee. Generally these costs include lodging in double room occupancy, all meals (specified in the itinerary as BLD denoting breakfast, lunch or dinner), ground transportation during the trip in vans or small busses, air transportation as specified, meal and baggage tipping, and guide services provided by the trip leaders. Not included are airfare or other transportation from your home to the trip staging location, airport departure taxes, insurance, alcoholic beverages and bar expenses (plus bottled water and soft drink expenses on international tours outside of North America), tips and gratuities to local guides abroad, phone calls, passport or visa expenses, laundry or items of a personal nature. Gratuities to Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris trip leaders are optional and always appreciated. Rates are based on group tariffs; if the trip does not have sufficient registration, a small party supplement may be charged.

Single accommodations are available for a supplemental cost in many locations; see the pre-departure trip information or call our office for details. You will be charged the single supplement fee if you desire single accommodations or if you wish to have a roommate, but one is not available. In some remote locations, clients with single rooms are infrequently compelled to share a room due to circumstances beyond our control. In such cases, appropriate per diem refunds will be made reflecting the direct cost of the single room at the facility where clients are required to share. There is no additional single supplement fee on ship-based cruises, if you request a roommate and one is not available.

Cost increases may occur unexpectedly due to rising costs of airfares, ground transport, fuel surcharges, accommodations and currency fluctuations, among others. Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. may be compelled to amend prices, and we reserve the right to do so without prior notice. An increase in trip prices shall not be sufficient grounds for any refund of funds paid for the trip other than as determined by the terms of our cancellation policy.

Whenever possible, our trip participants are lodged in comfortable, modern hotels. We select among the best available accommodations, but refrain from extravagance. Some interesting photographic destinations are far removed from modern amenities, however, and where necessary we will be accommodated in rustic country inns, cabins or tented camps.

Meals are always a special part of our trips for the camaraderie they engender and the opportunity they provide to try new foods from different areas. Depending on the trip and specific locale, participants order restaurant meals from the full menu or, less frequently, table d'hôte. Some trips include picnic lunches in the field. Fruit juice for breakfast and coffee or tea are included with the meals. Soft drinks are included with meals on tours within North America. Participants are responsible for their own bar tab (including bottled water, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages on tours outside of North America) at restaurant lunches and dinners.

Our itineraries are intended as examples only. Participants should allow for flexibility due to changes in weather, natural history or cultural events, or other logistical arrangements deemed necessary by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. or our leaders.

The second tour leader (and any subsequent additional leaders) listed for each trip on the website will be added as the group size warrants. If only one space remains on a trip, and logistics permit, we accept two persons traveling together, even if it exceeds the trip maximum.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. and/or their Agents act only as agents for the passenger in regard to travel including, but not limited to, sightseeing, meals, lodging, transportation, and all other services whether by railroad, motorcar, motor coach, boat, ship or aircraft and they assume no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned either by reason of defect in any vehicle or for any reason whatsoever, or through the acts or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger or in carrying out the arrangements of the trip.

They can accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay or changes in air or other services, sickness, weather, strike, war, volcanic eruption, terrorist acts, political unrest, quarantine or other causes. All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger, as trip fees provide for arrangements only for the times and locations stated. Baggage is at the owner's risk entirely.

The right is reserved to 1) substitute hotels of similar category for those indicated and to make any changes in the itinerary or transport where deemed necessary, or caused by changes in air schedules or equipment substitution; 2) cancel any trip prior to departure, in which case full refund of the paid trip funds will be given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non-refundable air tickets, visa fees and medical related expenses; 3) substitute trip leader(s) for the leader(s) originally specified, in which case the substitution is not a basis for participant cancellation or refund other than provided by our normal cancellation policy; or 4) accept or retain any person as a member of any trip.

Trip prices are based on tariffs and exchange rates in effect at the time of publication and are subject to adjustment in the event of any change therein.

A Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section must be signed by each participant prior to the commencement of the trip. Participation by any trip member will be declined in the absence of the signed Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section, with no trip fee refund. No modification to the Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section will be accepted.

Should Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or anyone acting on their behalf be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this agreement, the enrolling trip participant(s) agree(s) to indemnify and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, the enrolling participant(s) agree(s) to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington. Certain ship owners require the use of pre-printed ticket forms that limit the ship owner's and operator's liability. When such tickets are used, the passenger is bound by the terms of these tickets with respect to the passenger's legal relationship to the owners and operators of the ship, their agents (Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc.), and the ship's crew.

Epic South Georgia
  • Voyage especially designed by and for photographers wanting extended time at spectacular South Georgia
  • 10 shooting days of photography scheduled at South Georgia
  • 3 days of photography at the Falkland Islands
  • Early season benefits—good chance of snowfall to enhance photos, access to Prion Island nesting wandering albatrosses, huge bull elephant seals battling for females, few aggressive bull Antarctic fur seals have come ashore—allowing access to beaches usually too dangerous to visit later in the season, photograph gray-headed albatrosses on the nest
  • Few other ships will be in the area at this time—and it will seem like we have the entire island to ourselves—allowing more flexibility in landing site selection.
Oct 08 - Nov 02, 2019
Fee: $15,995–$20,995 from Ushuaia, Argentina (see complete cabin pricing below)
Deposit: 25% of cabin fee
Limit: 78

* Includes one hotel night in Ushuaia, Argentina, October 9, 2019

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