South Georgia has a dramatic setting with glacier-clad rugged mountains. Lying in the Southern Ocean south of the Antarctic convergence, the cold sea is booming with life. The island, often referred to as “The Galapagos of the Poles”, can only be reached by ship. There is no permanent human settlement, but seabirds and seals breed in the millions. The difficulty of getting there and the restrictions to protect the environment, makes South Georgia one of the least-visited tourist destinations in the world. Today the island has been largely left to recover from human over-exploration, resulting in dramatic increases in the number of whales, seals as well as penguin and seabird populations. The itinerary and activities over the next days are largely dependent on the weather and the sea.
The British administration at Grytviken, a former Norwegian whaling station, is also worth a visit. The famed British explorer Ernest Shackleton died in Grytviken on his second visit, and is buried south of the station. The endemic South Georgia pipits and South Georgia pintails may be seen around the buildings.
We will have a chance to visit Salisbury Plain, home to one of the largest king penguin colonies on the island, estimated between 250,000 and 5,000,000. Gentoo penguins, giant petrels and Antarctic prions also breed on the island.
We will explore the fjords of the north coast and take as many shore landings as time and the swelling sea will allow us. The proximity of the possible landing locations usually allow for a very diversified and active itinerary, sure to give us memories for a lifetime.
The marine life around South Georgia is at its most active during March/April, with thousands of whales feeding with ferocity to prepare for their coming migrations. Fur seal pups amass on the shorelines and Albatross chicks are peeking out from the nests. The king penguin chicks will shed their brown feathers and start heading into the ocean, other penguins like gentoo, macaroni and chinstrap will also see their chicks starting to grow confidence for a life on their own.