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Cheesemans for Antarctica, South Georgia, Falklands

UK
Level Contributor
15 posts
12 reviews
Cheesemans for Antarctica, South Georgia, Falklands

Hallo Everybody

I want to give an enthusiastic write-up for Cheesemans Ecology Safaris for trips to the Antarctic, South Georgia and the Falklands.

It is a small, family-run company so does not have so many travellers to recommend it – but we do - very much so.

My husband and I (Norwegian and English) travelled to South Georgia and the Falklands with them in October-November 2012 and were blown away!

So, guess what? - we are going back with them again this December-January for the whole works – South Georgia, Falklands and Antarctica.

I don't really need to say how wonderful the area itself is. You will all know that.

So what is special about Cheesemans? They have all the good points mentioned about other companies. Also……..

Being family-run, with family members involved in the trips, they have a personal approach which allows you to be informal about asking questions and they are really helpful to the first-time South Atlantic traveller with 'stupid' questions (I tried not to be too 'high maintenance'.)

They are also clearly passionate about giving the best possible experience.

They chartered the whole ship – the Ushuaia last time and the Ortelius when we return this year. This meant that they had complete control and flexibility to adapt and change the itinerary according to weather and circumstances. If it was a bit rough in one area we would go somewhere else.

We were able to circumnavigate the whole of South Georgia (unusual) because conditions allowed.

We were able to spend very long days on shore.

The ship was small so the landing places were not overwhelmed and there was no need for staggered landings.

We were able to make landings in areas where visiting is limited, such as at Steeple Jason island with its over 200,000 nesting black-browed albatross pairs – the world's largest colony.

There was an emphasis on the longest possible time spent on shore.

If you wanted to, there were occasions when the first zodiac went to shore at 5.30 in the morning and it was possible to stay there until 7.00 p.m.!) (You didn't have to, of course. That was for the maddest enthusiasts.) You could either come back to the ship for lunch or stay on land – if the ship was not moving somewhere different for the afternoon.

Many of the participants were keen photographers so stayed around the shore but, what initially attracted us most, was the fact that they made provision for more active people.

For example, we were able, given the time of year, to go cross-country ski-ing on South Georgia and trek (on skis for us) over the last part of the 'Shackleton Route' or from Ocean Harbour – not often visited – to Cumberland Bay East (Grytviken). Both of these were over passes 300m high – not particularly high but giving better than normal views of the fantastic scenery of South Georgia. When we visited New Island in the Falklands, some went back to the ship for lunch as it repositioned; others walked the length of the island (about 13km/8m) to meet the ship at its new anchorage.

At the end we were sent a photobook-log of the whole trip. I don't know whether that is common but it was a great souvenir or exactly what we did, using photos from the participants.

The staff were clearly so enthusiastic about the area that their own pleasure was infectious.

They paid incredible attention to detail for the whole trip, and dealt with complications with obvious skill. (It must be something of a logistical nightmare to manage such trips flexibly.)

They obviously cared very much for both the participants and the wildlife.

I can't see the exact trip we took last year on their list, but we are going with Cheesemans again in December 2013 and they have just announced a December 2014 Antarctic tour.

So if anyone is thinking of going to the area we really recommend that you consider Cheesemans as an option.

NYC
Level Contributor
1,000 posts
98 reviews
1. Re: Cheesemans for Antarctica, South Georgia, Falklands

Will see you aboard! Seemed so far away but feels just around the corner lately.

Somerset, New Jersey
5 posts
2. Re: Cheesemans for Antarctica, South Georgia, Falklands

Hello,

I am seriously looking at the Cheeseman trip to the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica trip. DId you find that they catered to the photographer? I get that impression from their literature but wanted to confirm with someone who has been on one of their trips. Do they provide boots and parkas for the trip like some of the other companies do or must one bring their own?

Your endorsement of Cheesemans for this trip is exciting to hear as they are on top of my list as a tour company.

SIncerely,

-Luann

UK
Level Contributor
15 posts
12 reviews
3. Re: Cheesemans for Antarctica, South Georgia, Falklands

Hallo Luann

Yes, they very much cater for the photographer.

We actually heard about them first from a professional photographer, who recommended them. One of the reasons they went on land so early in the morning was to catch the morning light. They also had professional photographers along who gave lectures and personal advice, as well as offering 'critique' sessions to those who were brave enough to offer up their work of art for public study! (not us...)

You can get some ideas from their web site and links to the sites of people who have travelled with them.

Boots are provided by the ship - I think, probably, all the antarctic ships do. There is nothing to stop you taking your own but we found that, with additional (recommended by the company) insoles, they were fine for long walks. They are necessary because nearly all the landings were 'wet' and walking through some of the penguin poo would not have been too pleasant otherwise! (You also need waterproof trousers.)

They don't provide parkas but you don't really need anything special. We were fine in October/November (spring), on South Georgia and the Falklands, with our own waterproofs. You can wear layers to find your own best temperature but it was not desperately cold. The antarctic peninsula itself is a bit further south, of course, but we will be visiting that in midsummer - which is the warmest time. It will really depend on the wind as to how cold it feels.

As for the bright orange ones provided by one particular company....I'm not sure I'd fancy going out in a group with those. Would they frighten away the penguins?!! :-)

I'm sure I wouldn't dare wear them again anywhere else afterwards!

Do keep them at the top of your list. If you can manage to go over this Christmas we'll see you there!

Clare

NYC
Level Contributor
1,000 posts
98 reviews
4. Re: Cheesemans for Antarctica, South Georgia, Falklands

I chose Cheesemans because of their concern for minimizing their footprint on the environment, the small group size, their use of many pro photographers and environmentalists as guides, maximum number of landings, and a reputation for running a tight, professional organization. I know the trip leader and have travelled with him twice before. He is a geologist and pro photographer who has worked this tour before and leads some incredible trips in Alaska and other remote locales. I also know anoher of the guides who is one of Alaska's top photo professionals. The list of guides for the tour is uniformly impressive. I looked at every tour down in Antarctica (given the cost I wanted to pick he best one for me) and this was the clear choice for itinerary, leaders, dates, group size, landings, and fit for photographers. Hope to meet you aboard if you choose this tour too!

Somerset, New Jersey
5 posts
5. Re: Cheesemans for Antarctica, South Georgia, Falklands

Hi Clare and Kyle10014,

Just wanted to let you know that I booked the December 2013 Cheeseman's trip. I look forward to meeting both of you!!

Sincerely,

-Luann

UK
Level Contributor
15 posts
12 reviews
6. Re: Cheesemans for Antarctica, South Georgia, Falklands

Great!

Looking forward to meeting you, too.

Not so long now...

Clare

Stanley, Falkland...
Level Contributor
30,316 posts
56 reviews
7. Re: Cheesemans for Antarctica, South Georgia, Falklands

Let me know if you have any questions about the Falklands.

Enjoy your trip.

Beach City, TX
Level Contributor
41 posts
24 reviews
8. Re: Cheesemans for Antarctica, South Georgia, Falklands

Looking forward to your review when you return from your December 2013 expedition. We went last year with Quark, but are really thinking we would like to return in December 2014 with Cheesemans! Hope you have a fantastic experience!

NYC
Level Contributor
1,000 posts
98 reviews
9. Re: Cheesemans for Antarctica, South Georgia, Falklands

9 weeks away. Can't believe its so close. I don't even know what to do wih myself I am so looking forward to this. Read "Endurance" about Shackleton's 1914 voyage and am in the middle of "Worst Journey on Earth" about Scott's 1910-12 expedition to reach the pole. Highly recommend them. "antarctica, An Intimate Portrait" is next. "Wher'd You Go Bernadette" was a fun fiction diversion with a nice chunk being about a voyage to antarctica. see you both in Ushuaia!

UK
Level Contributor
15 posts
12 reviews
10. Re: Cheesemans for Antarctica, South Georgia, Falklands

Believe it or not, I'm still 'tinkering' with the slide show we made from last year.

Not that it really needs it. It's just a good excuse to watch the whole thing again.....

A year ago now and it's actually, despite the cost, been the best value holiday we've ever had.

Will this year's surpass it? Hard to know - but we are so looking forward to it as we know it will be fantastic..

See you there.

C