The crossing to South Georgia took over three days, during which we enjoyed lectures and presentations by the naturalists, scientists, and photographers on board. South Georgia is a mountainous island a bit over 100 miles long and up to 22 miles wide, with a central mountain ridge nearly it's entire length. The highest point is Mt Paget at over 9,600 feet. The island was discovered in 1675 and the first exploration was by Captain James Cook in 1775. It was subsequently exploited for many years for whale and seal hunting, with numerous bases scattered along the eastern coast of the island. The hunting ended by 1964. Some of the whale and much of the seal population has recovered. The bird population on the island was also decimated because of rat and mice infestation from the whaling ships. The rodents were successfully eradicated from 2013 to 2018 and the bird population (pipits, penguins, albatross) is recovering rapidly. We were astounded by the wildlife abundance at nearly every one of our 11 landings. I hope you'll enjoy the images I captured to illustrate this magnificent island sanctuary.
An additional allure that South Georgia held for us is the fact that it is the site where Earnest Shackleton successfully organized the rescue of his crew from Elephant Island in Antarctica. Their ship and crew had been stranded for two years after their ship was crushed by pack ice and they had found their way over the ice and ocean to Elephant Island. From there Shackleton and 5 crew members sailed 800 miles in a small dory to South Georgia, where they had to hike across the mountains to finally find the whaling station in Stromness Bay. Ultimately they secured a ship that successfully returned to Elephant Island and rescued the entire crew, without a single casualty. We were fortunate enough to retrace the last 4 miles of Shackleton's hike as well as visit his grave in Grytviken.
Today, there are no permanent human residents on the island, only two small year round research stations, and 2 people live in Grytviken to staff the museum during the warmer months. The photos are labeled with a brief description of the scene and the location. I've included a map of the island to help navigate. Our experience was extraordinary, hiking and walking the many beaches and foothills, among thousands of penguins, skuas, petrels, fur seals, and our favorite – southern elephant seals. Enjoy the photos while sharing our adventure.