South GeorgiaDecember 18, 2017 in South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
This island has played large in our imagination after first reading Sir Ernest Shackleton’s account of his epic journey from being stuck in pack ice off Antarctica, sailing to Elephant Island in 3 life boats, then sailing a single life boat >900 miles to South Georgia before traversing the island in mid-winter over glaciers and crevasses to a whaling station where he could get a rescue party together for his crew back on Elephant Island. Four months after setting out on their small life boat he was able to return to rescue his crew – all survived.
We had 2½ days around the island and were able to make many landings while here. Our first landing was at a massive king penguin colony on Salisbury Plain. It was an emotional experience seeing such abundance of wildlife (king penguins, fur seals, elephant seals and countless birds) and realizing we were someplace very special. Next, we stopped in Fortuna Bay, another large king penguin colony and also the place where Shackleton and 2 of his crew had arrived after traversing the island. It was very exciting to be walking in the footsteps of these great explorers.
On our second day, we were meant to land in Stromness - the whaling station where Shackleton had come to mount the rescue - but bad weather prevented us from landing. We did enter the bay and get a good look at the former station before continuing on to Gothul for a zodiac cruise through a sheltered cove where we saw some amazing wildlife. Our afternoon landing was at Grytiviken, another former whaling station and where Shackleton and his friend and fellow explorer, Frank Wild, are buried. We toasted Shackleton at his gravesite with some Irish whiskey before taking a short walk up a hill for a beautiful view. Next, we visited the excellent museum and took a brief tour of the former whaling station. There are about 15 people that live here, mostly researchers and administrators. Incredible experience!
On our last day in South Georgia, we landed at Gold Harbor to see both king and Gentoo penguins, as well as many other creatures. After some rough weather, it was a brilliantly sunny day. Lastly, we cruised up Drygalski Fiord for indescribably beautiful views of the mountains and glaciers.Read more