Tuesday, 15 March 2016

South Georgia (day 1)

In the previous post in this series Sailing to South Georgia , I described the two-day journey to reach South Georgia. On the first day in South Georgia, I started to understand why so many of my fellow passengers are returning to this remarkable place after one or more previous visits ...

Monday, 7th March 2016

Around 6.30 a.m. the ship reached northern side of South Georgia and our earliest views confirmed the description sometimes used of ‘The Alps in the Sub-Antarctic’. Through the early morning mists, we could see snow-covered mountain peaks rearing up inland. The ship anchored in the Bay of Isles a few hundred yards from Salisbury Plain – the largest area of flatland in South Georgia, flanked by the Grace Glacier to the West and the Lucas Glacier to the east. After our Zodiacs scouted a suitable beach landing site, passengers wishing to take the “long strenuous hike” were landed. At around 8.00 a.m. the remaining passengers (including me) were landed.

Salisbury Plain is famous for its large colony of King Penguins (estimated at 30,000 breeding pairs) and, as we approached the shore, the racket made by the penguins was apparent before the smell. The beach was made up of large flat stones, quite tiring to walk upon. Although there were hundreds and hundreds of King Penguins near the edge of the beach where we landed, this was not the main colony which we reached by walking east, near the water’s edge. The view of thousand upon thousand of King Penguins was staggering. In addition to filling the width of the beach, many more penguins occupied the low hillside leading inland.

Thousands of King penguins at Salisbury Plain, South Georgia.

Our visit was near the end of the breeding season so, in addition to the young produced by the Early Breeders, incubation was still going on amongst some of the Late Breeders. It was an amazing sight.

Salisbury Plain: Gentoo Penguin "I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date".

Whilst we took lunch, the ship moved to Prion Island, named after the Antarctic Prions which nest there. Fur seals and Wandering Albatrosses were also abundant. A well-built set of 180 steps made ascent to higher level easy (if you avoided the fur seal pooh). There’s lots more to describe (and lots of pictures to upload), but at least that gives you a brief introduction to this marvellous place.

Related posts

Next South Atlantic post.

All my South Atlantic posts.

My pictures

You can find all my pictures on the trip in the Collection Cape to Cape (still being added to, at the time of writing).

There are a few pictures of the trip in the album South Atlantic Voyage.

['Cape to Cape' collection added 5-Apr-2016]