- 8 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, 8 Dinners
Today you arrive at the first South Georgia activity site. Please keep in mind that weather conditions in this area can be challenging, largely dictating the program.
Sites you might visit include:
Prion Island – The home of the great wandering albatrosses. The previous summer’s wandering albatross chicks are almost ready to fledge, and adults are seeking out their old partners after a year and a half at sea.
Salisbury Plain, St. Andrews Bay, Gold Harbour – These sites not only house the three largest king penguin colonies in South Georgia, they’re also three of the world’s largest breeding beaches for southern elephant seals. Only during this time of year do they peak in their breeding cycle. Watch the four-ton bulls keep a constant vigil (and occasionally fight) over territories where dozens of females have just given birth or are about to deliver. You can also see a substantial number of Antarctic fur seals here during the breeding season (December – January).
Fortuna Bay – A beautiful outwash plain from Fortuna Glacier is home to a large number of king penguins and seals. You may have the chance to follow the final leg of Shackleton’s route to the abandoned whaling village of Stromness. This path cuts across the mountain pass beyond Shackleton’s Waterfall, and as the terrain is partly swampy, be prepared to cross a few small streams.
Leith Harbour, Stromness, Husvik – These sites remind us of the scale of the whaling industry in the early 20th century. Elephant and fur seals breed and moult here. Gentoo penguins also occupy the landing sites. Antarctic prions and South Georgia dive petrels may be observed, especially in the area of Husvik.
Grytviken – In this abandoned whaling station, king penguins walk the streets and elephant seals lie around like they own the place – because they basically do. Here you might be able to see the South Georgia Museum as well as Shackleton’s grave.
Cobblers Cove, Godthul – At Cobblers Cove we aim for Rookery Point to see macaroni penguins. Light-mantled sooty albatrosses nest along the coastline and giant petrels can be observed as well. Godthul (Norwegian for “good cove”) was named by Norwegian whalers and seal-hunters and remains such as bones can still be found along the shore line. Beaches are the home of gentoo penguins and seals.
Royal Bay (Moltke Harbour, Will Point & Brisbane Point) – Moltke harbour in Royal Bay was named by the German International Polar Year Expedition in 1882 and some of the remains of their dwellings are still visible. The scenery of Royal Bay is beautiful, dark sandy beaches, followed by the green tussock colors and finally dominated by the snow and ice covered Ross Glacier. Royal Bay one of the windiest bays on the island, zodiac cruising is spectacular. Approx. 30,000 pairs of king penguins live here.
Cooper Bay – Offers the largest chinstrap penguin population and gentoo and also macaroni penguins are present. Antarctic terns, white-chinned petrels, blue-eyed shags and light-mantled sooty albatrosses can be spotted too.
Drygalski Fjord – offers spectacular landscapesas the ships sails the narrow fjord, with ca. 2 kilometer high mountain peaks at a very close distance.
Annenkov Island – Passing Pickersgill Islands we reach the rarely visited Annenkov Island, first discovered by James Cook in 1775 and was later renamed by the Russian expedition of Fabian von Bellingshausen in 1819. A rocky terrain with a variety of ridges, peaks and hills where also fossils have been found.
King Haakon Bay – British explorer Ernest Shackleton reached King Haakon Bay during his journey of 800 sea-miles by open boat “James Caird” from Elephant Island. From here he crossed to Stromness to ask for help to rescue his party at Elephant Island after they had left the Weddell Sea where their ship got crushed by ice. Elephant seals dominate the beaches. Birdwatchers will look out for South Georgia pipits, Antarctic prions as well as common diving and blue petrels.