It’s no understatement to say that my stopover in South Georgia throughout my Antarctica cruise with Hurtigruten was the greatest wildlife expertise that I’ve ever executed in my life! In spite of everything, this island is commonly known as because the paradise of wildlife-lovers given the massive variety of animals that lead their lives there with little to no concern for the occasional human visits.
Although, if I could also be so daring to say… I wasn’t really anticipating one thing unprecedented from such sub-Antarctic islands as a result of I assumed that every one the ‘enjoyable’ shall be discovered within the White Continent itself; so naturally, it was a welcomed feeling once I was blown away by the fantastic thing about the distant South Georgia island!
Earlier than you begin complicated this with the nation of Georgia or the USA state of Georgia, let me clarify that South Georgia is an island within the southern Atlantic Ocean. It was first present in 1675 and it’s at present part of the British Abroad Territory of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. It’s NOT a part of the Antarctic continent however it does lie south of the Antarctic Convergence (curve encircling Antarctica) and thought to be a sub-Antarctic island.
In the case of the inhabitants, there is no such thing as a everlasting inhabitants in South Georgia however there resides a British Authorities Officer, Deputy Postmaster, scientists, and help employees from the British Antarctic Survey — to not point out, the ‘native’ colonies of cute penguins and seals! Fact be advised, this was my first time to get extremely near such wildlife (in a means whereby they had been SO near my toes!). It was actually unbelievable.
And the icing to the cake? I even obtained to witness a colony that was made up of just about a MILLION of king penguins!
…Wanna know extra about this journey? Then proceed studying beneath. (In the event you’re curious on how one can go to this magical island, go to my Pre-Journey Information on the backside of this put up).
High photograph of Colony King Penguins from Shutterstock.com
Issues to Do in South Georgia
» Go to Fortuna Bay «
Fortuna Bay which is positioned within the north coast of South Georgia was our first shore touchdown, and from the second that I set foot in it, I used to be misplaced for phrases. It was not solely due to the grand vistas that I’ve laid my eyes on but additionally due to the hundreds of elephant seals, fur seals, and king penguins that greeted us by the seaside. As a matter of reality, we had been virtually surrounded by these cute creatures and it was pure bliss!
However amidst the thrill, we needed to be vigilant as a result of the fur seals are fairly aggressive (extra particulars on this should you click on the ‘+’ icon beneath).
ABOUT FUR SEALS
Isn’t he cute? However take my recommendation: don’t let this fluffy creature idiot you as a result of for probably the most half, he’s one of many ‘thugs’ in Fortuna Bay. How so? Nicely, they usually are typically on ‘assault mode’ and after they cost, they’re FAST even when they weigh about 90 to 215 kilograms! That’s why after we made touchdown at South Georgia, we had been all advised to stay alert as a result of the entire of Fortuna Bay was stuffed with fur seals and so they can cost at anybody in the event that they felt prefer it.
For sure, you guess that I felt like I used to be in a ‘seal SURVIVAL GAME’!
It was all good enjoyable although and so they hardly ever ‘attacked’. And in time, the ‘dominance show’ between human and seal all simply turned second nature to us. (Thoughts you, the king penguins within the island additionally needed to undergo the identical ordeal with the fur seals. I witnessed quite a lot of them tripping and operating at any time when a seal decides to cost at them playfully).
★ So… why are the fur seals aggressive?
It’s principally the male ones which might be at all times in assault mode. The primary purpose? They suppose we’re out to steal their women. LOL. However yeah, I’m not joking! Competitors for mates is fierce within the island — and so is area. Nevertheless, they’ll assault with little to NO apparent provocation to any intruders (might it’s fellow fur seals, people or penguins alike). Feminine fur seals additionally get aggressive to guard their pup; however throughout my time there, the females had been all simply lounging round whereas the pups are out and about enjoying removed from them. Regardless, the pups may be feisty too since I did encounter one who hissed at me; however as you would possibly anticipate, it was not scary just like the grownup ones — it was relatively freaking cute.
★ What to do when the fur seals get aggressive?
We had been all outfitted with mountain climbing sticks not only for ‘mountain climbing’ but additionally for the seals. After all, it was NOT an merchandise to hit the fur seals with; it’s only a precautionary instrument that appear to make fur seals cease charging at you whenever you simply level it at their route.
In any other case, you possibly can clap your palms to startle them (as if payback for them startling you haha). If issues worsen and also you’re surrounded by quite a lot of fur seals, you simply have to make quite a lot of noise to considerably categorical dominance. Backside line: you continue to at all times have to be cautious as a result of a seal’s chew may be deadly. (I gotta say… this expertise made me suppose that it could make for a very good sport app thought — “Survive the Seal Assault”).
We knew we had been within the most secure path attainable from the fur seals when the king penguins additionally adopted the marked cones that our expedition workforce leaders arrange for us!
Fur seal ‘thugs‘ apart (they didn’t hassle us as a lot anyway), the terrain in South Georgia was simply too spectacular: it was wild, rugged — and with all the things mixed, my time there really felt like I used to be doing my very own wildlife documentary!
ABOVE: These are fur seal pups and so they had been usually seen enjoying distant from their moms.
ABOVE: A southern elephant seal pup who but has to type a big nostril that resembles an elephant’s trunk. As soon as it matures into an grownup, it could attain a size of 6 meters and a weight of four,00zero kilograms! (And sure, they’re not aggressive just like the fur seals).
ABOVE: It is a child king penguin! They shed this brown coat for months by a course of known as moulting till they lastly obtain the ‘signature look’ of grownup king penguins. Seeing them now, they actually look totally different, proper? Actually, early explorers thought they had been a completely totally different animal after they first noticed them!
TRIVIA: We had been suggested to take care of a 5-meter distance from the penguins in order to not stress them — in fact, touching is NOT allowed both. Nevertheless, most of them had been curious creatures who didn’t worry us (provided that they’re NOT used to any hazard on stable floor nor land predators) so there have been many cases whereby they had been tremendous near us; which then makes for an incredible expertise (aside from it being an incredible alternative for taking superb photographs and movies!).
So merely put: we don’t method them, we allow them to method us! And if I could share a tip, should you simply sit nonetheless, more often than not, they’ll simply method you.
» Go Climbing (Shackleton & Grytviken) «
One other superb factor about South Georgia is that its trails are rated as one of many world’s most epic hikes — naturally, I didn’t cross up on doing the favored Shackleton Hike when there was a possibility to take action.
TRIVIA: Ernest Shackleton is among the famed nice explorers of Antarctica and he as soon as did a heroic rescue journey of survival by South Georgia for 35.5km within the top of the Antarctic winter.
Guests to Antarctica have the prospect to retrace his steps in the summertime; however absolutely, with the time that we had, we will’t do a full 35km hike. Even so, we had the prospect to take pleasure in a 5km hike from Fortuna Bay which mainly goes by the final leg of Shackleton as he made his strategy to Stromness. It could have been brief, however I cherished it!
Along with Hurtigruten’s skilled expedition leaders, we went by snow and glacier lakes backdropped by snow-capped mountains. The climate was good too so we had the prospect to see the encircling terrain in all its glory.
Nonetheless in South Georgia, additionally, you will discover deserted whaling stations reminiscent of that of Grytviken Harbour (which can also be the placement of Shackleton’s grave). There have been a number of actions to select from whereas we had been there: guided excursions, cruising on polarcirkel boats, mountain climbing, and kayaking — however as what you might need already guessed, I went with mountain climbing!
» See the Greatest King Penguin Colony at St. Andrew’s Bay «
You’ve seen me mingling with tons of king penguins in Fortuna Bay, however right here in St. Andrews Bay… they simply rule in numbers as I obtained to see virtually a MILLION of them!
It was a sight that undoubtedly made me frozen in disbelief; apart from, it was just too loopy and surreal to see hundreds of king penguins filling up each accessible area within the bay while their distinctive chirping circulated by the air like a loud orchestra. (And let’s not neglect the hundreds of elephant and fur seals that occupied the sands by the ocean).
…All in all, I’ll NEVER neglect this bay’s views, sounds, and smells (haha).
Issues obtained much more magical when snow began to fall — which thoughts you, was additionally my first snowfall expertise final 2017. For sure, I used to be brimming with happiness right here and I wasn’t even in mainland Antarctica but!
TRIVIA: One factor that you should find out about St. Andrews Bay is that as a consequence of its pure design and place within the Southern Ocean, it has quite a lot of swells (assortment of waves usually cherished by surfers however not by boaters or expeditioners like) and heavy surf. Due to this fact, guests should go to on a very good day, in any other case it won’t be attainable to get ashore; therefore, I’m grateful that the times had been truthful and good.
To achieve this enormous colony, we really needed to cross a glacial stream first which is claimed to generally be straightforward but additionally difficult relying on the time of the arrival. For us, it was bordering on difficult however happily, all of us made it over the opposite facet, because of the help of the expedition leaders. From there, we needed to go up on the hills and as soon as I obtained to the highest… my jaw actually dropped to the ground. The view was immensely breathtaking and vivid!
South Georgia Pre-Journey Information
NOTE: In order for you a whole checklist of FAQ (Regularly Requested Questions) for Antarctica cruise expeditions, keep tuned for my upcoming put up on this.
South Georgia is a spot that I’ll at all times bear in mind and a spot that I’ll without end suggest as a must-visit vacation spot!
In spite of everything, the unrivalled wildlife encounters that I’ve skilled right here had been past unbelievable that I used to be at all times puzzled. All in all, I hope you get to see this place as a result of it’ll absolutely blow you away!
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