3 Things You’ll See On A Cruise To South Georgia Island
Not to be confused with the southern part of the state of Georgia, or indeed the southern part of the country Georgia, South Georgia Island is a British Overseas Territory situated in the Atlantic Ocean. On the same latitude as Ushuaia (the Argentine port from which your journey is likely to start), the remote island has seen some important events in the past and is now a breathtaking destination on many Antarctic cruises.
Here are three things you’ll see during your time here.
The rugged natural landscapes of the island attract plenty of wildlife to the area. Whilst you will also see seals and albatrosses, South Georgia is known for its large colony of king penguins. Thousands of these birds return here every year to breed, lay their eggs and take regular trips into the ocean in search of fish.
St Andrews Bay is known as the best place to spot these majestic creatures. As you arrive onshore, you will start to understand the sheer size of this group, something that has the power to leave you standing in awe. Far from being disturbed by your presence, the penguins will continue about their daily business, whilst some more inquisitive individuals may even creep closer to see what all the fuss is about. The fantastic wildlife here also includes macaroni and chinstrap penguins, which are not quite as tall as their regally-named cousins but just as cute.
The largest settlement on South Georgia, Grytviken, is located in the middle of the northern coastline. This is where the only inhabitants (scientists there for the summer) can be found and where you will also see a small grave dedicated to the legendary explorer Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton. At the request of his widow, Shackleton’s body was laid to rest here in 1922 and a few years later a headstone made in Edinburgh was added.
The great adventurer and his crew set off from London in 1921 aboard a ship called Quest with the aim of exploring the sub-Antarctic islands. However, the vessel, an old sealer from Norway, turned out to be unfit for the job and caused the men countless troubles during their journey across the Atlantic. After stopping in Rio de Janeiro so that the engine could be fixed, the crew continued on to South Georgia. It was here that the weight of the troubled expedition is said to have got the better of Shackleton and he suffered a heart attack in the early hours of January 5th, 1922.
The South Georgia Museum
Also in Grytviken, close to Shackleton’s grave, you will find the small yet interesting South Georgia Museum. Inside there are many artefacts related to the maritime history of the island which tell a story of the people that have come and gone over the years.
The building itself is an old whaling station and so part of the exhibition is dedicated to the history of whaling and sealing during the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. Other displays will help you learn about the various explorers that have landed here in the past, including Shackleton, as well as showcasing South Georgia’s natural history.
Away from the displays inside, this part of the island is almost a living museum. Multiple shipwrecks can be seen along the shoreline and an eerie abandoned whaling factory lies close by. As nature has started to reclaim these, it feels like a ghost town that is now inhabited by the local wildlife.
There’s no doubting that South Georgia will be an interesting stop on your journey to Antarctica. Or, if you prefer, you can choose to visit the Falklands and South Georgia without continuing on to the icy continent. Either way, we can help you find an expedition cruise that will provide the trip of a lifetime. Call us on 0808 231 4814 to speak to one of our specialists.