Witness the spectacle of the Great Migration during a luxury travel safari to Kenya and Tanzania, keeping watch for East Africa’s abundant wildlife on game drives through the region’s most stunning parks and reserves. Meet with a Maasai elder and visit a Tanzanian village for authentic insight into daily life. Then, each evening, settle in to boutique camp and luxury lodge accommodations in the heart of the action.
Enjoy a boutique river cruise on the Rhine, with insight from your own Resident Tour Director during an art and architecture-themed European journey. Enjoy everything from exclusive, private tours of the Tinguely Museum and the Vitra Campus with your small group to an excursion to Darmstadt to view Mathildenhöhe. Before and after the cruise in Amsterdam and Basel, stays in centrally located boutique hotels further bring these fascinating destinations to life.
Learn more about Art & Architecture Along the Rhine
As told by A&K Naturalist Guide and ornithology buff, Brent Houston
Some of my favorite animals on earth are easily seen in Antarctica, especially if you visit the very beautiful and remote island of South Georgia and the warmer, wildlife-packed Falkland Islands. From the bright-white snow petrel that is unmistakable among the pack ice, to the predatory brown and south polar skuas — those marauders of the penguin colonies — the flying seabirds we encounter as we cross the Drake Passage rival the more popular show-stopping penguins of Antarctica for their beauty, grace and adaptability.
Speaking of penguins, the Adélie is my absolute favorite, because what they lack in colorful plumage, they make up for in comical displays, vocalizations and general goofiness. The funniest thing is to watch them gathering pebbles for their nests, especially when they steal each other’s pebbles at the same time. This goes on throughout the breeding season and is a source of endless entertainment.
Adélies are also fun to watch when entering the water. One or two by themselves do not want to go in for fear of a leopard seal, which can eat up to ten penguins a day. So, they wait until there is a group and then they start calling in a frenzy, pushing each other from behind and — all at once — go tumbling into the sea. I always say it takes ten Adélie penguins to make a decision.
The other spectacular penguin that is a treat to see is the brightly colored and always-busy king penguin. Unlike most penguins, they lay one large egg that they must balance on their feet to incubate for 55 days, and then later protect the chick, which then takes nine months to fledge. The brightly colored auricular patch on their necks, along with their pinkish to purplish beaks provide photographers with incredible opportunities, especially when they are trumpeting and courting. But the most incredible thing to see is the sheer magnitude of the big breeding colonies, sometimes numbering in the tens of thousands. It is a magical display of the animal kingdom, something A&K guests to South Georgia get to see.
The star of the wind and waves, dynamically soaring and rising higher and higher by using the near-constant updrafts, and then falling forward seemingly without moving a muscle, is the wandering albatross. The largest flying seabird in the world, it weighs nearly 25 pounds and has a wingspan approaching 12 feet. They can remain aloft — though they do rest on the water when there is no wind, and plunge-dive under water to feed on squid and fish — for perhaps 20 days, travelling thousands and thousands of miles. They don’t breed until they are about eight years old, and this is only after a few years of elaborate and vocal courtship rituals where they choose an appropriate mate for life. Wandering albatrosses take approximately 300 days to fledge their one big chick, and adults can live up to sixty years.
Perhaps the most beautiful of all albatrosses is the light-mantled sooty albatross, an absolutely stunning bird with a charcoal grey head, lighter grey body, a paler “mantle” which is between the shoulders, and a small white, crescent-moon shaped eye patch. Light-mantled sooties are most commonly seen around South Georgia, where they nest on steep tussock-covered hillsides and where, with luck, you can hear their haunting courtship calls echoing off the cliffsides.
Known to most of us at least in theory, the Antarctic tern is an impressive, high-flying, fast, loud, territorial and sometimes very aggressive bird, and the only tern species to breed in the Antarctic Peninsula. They are unmistakable with their coral red beaks and their nearly translucent grey pointy wings. We see them on many landing sights, usually nesting and raising hell in the scree slope rubble where their few eggs and chicks are camouflaged. They are perhaps best known for their spectacularly long migrations, which occur after the breeding season as they head north, sometimes all the way to the Arctic latitudes.
Once we cross the Antarctic Convergence, a very fun and sociable species of bird starts following us until we reach the Antarctic Peninsula: the cape petrel. This constantly flapping and gliding powerhouse stays with us day and night, perhaps hoping we might stir up some food as we sail southward. They are excellent at picking up the smell of any food that is dead or decaying on the surface of the ocean, but they will also perform shallow dives for krill and other zooplankton.
This is the bird I would hope to come back to be in another life. They are smart, beautiful, fast, sociable, seem to have a lot of friends and a lot of fun, and they nest in one of the most beautiful places on earth, the islands of the Antarctic Peninsula and the lofty areas of South Georgia.
Think all penguins are the same? Actually, there’s a surprising amount of variety among these little black and white birds. Here is a closer look at the penguins of the Antarctic.
Gentoos are distinguishable by their bright orange beak and feet, as well as the white “cap” marking on the their heads. While most small penguins eat krill, the gentoo eats fish, and can dive up to 400 feet in search of a meal.
If there’s such a thing as a “classic” penguin, it’s the Adélie, with its iconic tuxedo-like markings. They’re powerful swimmers and no slouch on land either, waddling up to 30 miles from their nests for food.
With a thin black line crossing their otherwise plain white faces, chinstrap penguins are aptly named. These medium-sized birds are among the region’s most numerous, with an astonishing eight million breeding pairs spread throughout the islands. Continue Reading ›
Cruise to Antarctica on an unforgettable voyage, learning about its unique climate and abundant wildlife from an award-winning expedition team aboard exclusively chartered, all-balcony ‘Le Lyrial.’ Offering unforgettable adventure for every type of traveller, this singular voyage benefits from our 200 successful, inspiring polar expeditions past, as well as expertly crafted itineraries, the highest crew and guide-to-guest ratios and unmatched expertise in topics ranging from marine biology to ornithology, climate change and history.
To learn more about cruising on a once-in-a-lifetime Antarctica luxury cruise, click here.
I’m a visual person, so before I went to Antarctica, I was always drawn to the colors and all the crazy blues I had seen in photos, how sculptural the icebergs and mountains were, and how these landscapes didn’t look like anything else. Now that I’ve just returned from Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falkland Islands, these incredible landscapes — that exceeded every expectation — are also what stay with me the most.
Part of that is just the sheer size of it all. On our luxury expedition cruise, we experienced landscapes like a crescendo that went from small to big. The Falklands are definitely hilly, but the slopes are gentle with rocky outcroppings. South Georgia Island is a full-on mountain range with these 7,000 to 8,000 feet peaks — they’re not small! — that seem to pop up from the ocean as if out of nowhere. Contrast that with Antarctica, which is made up almost entirely of glaciers (95 percent) and even more extreme and impressive with its ice.
For me, though, nothing tops the small bay of Gold Harbour, which is situated at the east end of South Georgia. The island itself is full of these amazing glaciers. You see them coming out to the ocean, up on hills, retreating back up the mountain and even transforming the landscape with newly formed hills. Continue Reading ›
Antarctica is unparalleled, otherworldly, and powerfully moving in a way that is almost impossible to describe. But we’re going to try. A&K is excited to introduce a series of first-hand stories — dispatches, moments, eye-openers — by our guests and Expedition Team about their experiences across the Southern Ocean.
As told by A&K climate change expert and marine biologist Dr. James McClintock from his current research site, Palmer Station in Antarctica
I’m in Antarctica now, and it has me thinking that there is no good reason that anyone who hasn’t been should put off a visit. It is the quintessential trip of a lifetime and I can say with great experience and confidence that it will change you — and in a better, enriching way.
For me as a marine biologist, Antarctica is always about the wildlife, which is remarkable and unreal in so many respects. Just last month, I was along the Antarctic Peninsula on a research expedition and we counted 65 humpback whales in just a few hours time. We saw many feeding and several breaching (leaping from the water). I had never seen such a large concentration of whales.
These high populations of animals take some getting used to. One of my favorite experiences is going ashore and being welcomed by tens of thousands of Adélie or gentoo or chinstrap penguins, and discovering the penguins have not read the regulations for keeping their distance. I call it the Disney element; because the wildlife have no history of predation by large animals, they have no fear of us. It’s surreal. Whether for me as a scientist or an A&K guest making their first landing, it’s like being a kid in a candy store.
What’s more relaxing than your own private European villa? Having everything taken care of for you. Now that’s a real vacation. Discover what an A&K Villas experience can offer.
The Incredible World Beneath You in Antarctica
Whether on land or beneath the waves, the wildlife in Antarctica is astounding in its variety. Meet some species of whales and seals you’re likely to encounter on your voyage.
Also known as killer whales, orcas are not really whales at all but the largest member of the dolphin family — and also its most powerful carnivore. Known for their intelligent, collaborative hunting efforts, pods of orcas can be seen swimming along Antarctic coasts in search of prey, each easily distinguished by its jet-black top and the wide, white patches behind its eyes. Continue Reading ›
Penguins, icebergs, a top-notch Expedition Team — there are countless reasons why an Antarctica voyage is a true trip of a lifetime. Here are ten of our favorites.
1. Penguins, penguins, and more penguins
The unofficial ambassadors of Antarctica, penguins come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from the small black-and-white Adélie to the orange-trimmed King, both found exclusively in the Antarctic region. Penguins have no innate fear of humans and visitors often find themselves approached by the curious birds.
2. Every picture is postcard-worthy
If you have a passion for photographing wildlife and spectacular scenery, Antarctica is the place for you. You’ll see animals you won’t find anywhere else, along with landscapes like the Lemaire Channel, fondly known as “Kodak Alley” for the incredible photo opportunities it affords. All the while, an onboard Photo Coach is at hand to help you capture that perfect shot.
3. An ever-changing landscape of ice
With its towering blue icebergs, Antarctica is like a vast, open-air museum of ever-changing sculptures, as awe-inspiring as any natural wonder on earth. Navigate among these floating giants on a nimble Zodiac boat, an expert pilot/guide providing insight. Continue Reading ›