- 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners
Simply put, there is nowhere else in the world like South Georgia. Ninety miles long, dominated by a spine of jagged peaks and home to wildlife spectacles that are honestly hard to believe, it is one of the wildest and most beautiful places on the planet. The days here will give you plenty of time to explore many facets of this unique sub-Antarctic island, including its storied history, rich ecology (you’ll probably be surprised by the green slopes of tussock grass below the glaciers) and the stunning scenery that surrounds you at every landing.
King penguins, the second largest species in the world, are unquestionably the most iconic wildlife of South Georgia. Exact numbers are not known, but the largest single colony on the island may have as many as 500,000 of these amazing birds. Half a million birds! Nesting together on a single two-mile-long beach! It’s a sight that is genuinely inconceivable until you have experienced it in person. At the other end of the scale, king penguins are great birds to get to know as individuals. Strutting purposefully past your cameras on the beaches or coming and going in and out of the surf, they seem to regard you with a wonderful mixture of curiosity and disdain.
For many, South Georgia evokes, more that anything, the epic adventures of Sir Ernest Shackleton, who reached the island after making the crossing from Elephant Island in the James Caird—still one of the most incredible small-boat journeys ever attempted. From Peggotty Bluff, where he began the arduous crossing of the glaciated spine of the island, to his quiet grave near the Grytviken whaling station, Shackleton’s spirit seems to be everywhere around the island. In very good conditions you may even be able to make a long hike up to the spot where he first heard the noon whistle from the Stromness Station and knew that rescue was close at hand at last.
In the not-too-distant past, South Georgia was an important site for both whaling and sealing, but today things are very different. The contrast between watching from the ship while southern right whales feed below the blue face of a huge iceberg, and then hiking through the rusting remains of a whaling station later the same day, can be a powerfully moving experience and one that emphasizes the very positive changes that the island has seen in the last few decades. Invasive species have been removed, rare birds are growing more and more common, whales are returning in ever-greater numbers, and your own visits have become an important factor in this successful conservation.
Every minute at South Georgia is another opportunity for truly life-changing experiences. Landing before dawn to see the pink light of sunrise touch the mountains over a king penguin colony. Quietly watching as a wandering albatross, with its 11-foot wingspan, settles onto her nest and thinking of endless miles of ocean that she has seen. Capturing incredible images of three-ton bull elephant seals jousting on a lonely beach. South Georgia is sometimes called “the Serengeti of the Southern Ocean”, but that doesn’t really even come close—this lonely island is unique in the world, so rich and so beautiful that it defies any comparison.