- 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners
The exact itinerary for South Georgia depends on local land and sea conditions, but the following destinations are among the possible options to explore:
Salisbury Plain is sometimes called the “Serengeti of the South” and is a wildlife site without parallel. Several large glaciers provide a dramatic backdrop for the tens of thousands of king penguins that nest in the tussock grass of this remarkable ecosystem. The wide beach makes for excellent walking as you visit the colony, where you are literally surrounded and delightfully outnumbered by throngs of curious, gentle penguins. Elephant and fur seals also abound, as well as southern giant petrels and the occasional wandering gentoo penguin. Prepare for an awe-inspiring experience, as the elephant seals are giving birth on the beaches.
On the tussock-grass covered islet, visit a breeding colony of wandering albatross. Ascend to the summit on a wooden boardwalk, offering comfortable viewing platforms.
Grytviken lies within King Edward Cove, a sheltered harbor tucked between Hope Point and Hobart Rock on the western shore of Cumberland East Bay. The rusting ruins of the Grytviken whaling station are situated on a level plain at the head of the cove, backed by steep hills and mountains. Now the site of the South Georgia Museum, the station remains a focal point of interest for many visitors, as does Sir Ernest Shackleton´s grave in the nearby whaler´s cemetery and his memorial cross on Hope Point. The scenery in this area is exceptionally beautiful even by South Georgia standards: the glaciers and snow covered peaks of the Allardyce Range – Mt. Sugartop, Mt. Paget, Mt. Roots, Nordenskjöld Peak, Mt. Kling and Mt. Brooker – form a magnificent backdrop to the cove, and the views from King Edward Point in particular, must be among the finest on earth.
Situated 9km east of Cumberland East Bay on the eastern shores of Barff Peninsula, Godthul is a 3km long inlet that lies between Cape George and Long Point. Gentoo penguins are abundant on the tussac plateau and light-mantled sooty albatrosses echo off the natural cliff amphitheater that encircles the harbor. A floating factory ship serviced by two whale catchers was stationed here each summer between 1908 and 1929. A small shore depot supporting the whaling operations was established close by the stream in the southeast corner of the harbor, and the rusting barrels, wooden shed and boats are fascinating relics of the whaling era, as is the impressive collection of whale and elephant seal bones scattered along the beach.
St. Andrew's Bay
The surf beaten coastline at St. Andrews Bay runs north-south in a 1.86 mile (3 km) long uninterrupted sweep of fine dark sand, covered in penguins and seals and bounded in the interior by the Cook, Buxton and Heaney Glaciers. The bay hosts the biggest colony of king penguins on South Georgia. Early in the season, the beach is also carpeted with fur and elephant seals. Such a large assemblage of wildlife attracts an entourage of persistent and voracious scavengers. Sheathbills dart in and around the penguin colony. Cape petrels nest in a small number on the cliffs north of St. Andrews Bay. Leopard seals patrol the rocks at this end of the beach too, hunting for penguins along the edge of kelp beds. A few white-chinned petrels and light-mantled sooty albatrosses nest on the tussac slopes. Brown skuas and Antarctic terns breed on the outwash plain and scree slopes at the north end of the beach, defending their nest sites with their characteristic noise and vigor.
Another highlight could be a visit in Cooper Bay at the southeast extremity of South Georgia. There is a wealth of wildlife at this site, in a spectacular setting. Chinstrap, gentoo, and macaroni penguins dot the tussock slopes and there are plenty of fur seals on the beaches. Fascinating volcanic rocks tower over small fjords, providing a stunning backdrop for a thrilling wildlife watching zodiac cruise on the waterfront.
Although Drygalski Fjord´s glaciers have retreated significantly in recent decades, they remain one of the most striking features of this coastline, particularly the Risting and Jenkins Glaciers. With a little luck, you might see the glaciers calve and witness the birth of a new iceberg.