South Georgia and Scotia Sea
Whaling heritage, stunning vistas and remarkable wildlife
Information about South Georgia and Scotia Sea
South Georgia Island (known as Isla San Pedro in Spanish) is often described, quite rightly, as a highlight of many peoples’ Antarctic cruise experience.
The remote, rocky main island is 850 miles from the Falkland Islands and the same distance from the Antarctic Peninsula. It’s quite mountainous, with a central high ridge and plenty of bays and fjords on its coast, making for some stunning views and remarkable photographs.
There are 8 smaller islands (the South Sandwich Islands) located 400 miles to the southeast which are rarely visited.
South Georgia has a human history mainly centered around the sealing and whaling industries, with relics such as try pots and sunken whaling ships to be discovered. Many people also pay a visit to the grave of Ernest Shackleton, one of the most famous Antarctic explorers, who died unexpectedly of a heart attack while in South Georgia.
Part of one of the world’s largest marine reserves, the variety of the wildlife to be found in South Georgia is what attracts most of its visitors. From the world’s largest king penguin colonies to beaches crammed with elephant and fur seals, to breeding colonies of the bird with the largest wingspan in the world, the wandering albatross, to innumerable species of seabirds, South Georgia is a destination that serves up “days of a lifetime” every day!
Interesting facts about South Georgia and Scotia Sea
South Georgia is perhaps the best place in the world to encounter the southern elephant seal. This is the largest of all the seals, and the island is home to more than half of the world's entire population of these wonderful animals. October is a great month to visit, as you will see newly born pups nursing from their mothers.
November is more of a challenge with the height of the fur seal breeding season and aggressive bulls everywhere, and in many places it is impossible to go ashore, with the option restricted to offshore Zodiac cruises. But it can still be spectacular with all the fur seals and King Penguins and other wildlife along the beaches.
Later in the season can be great for encounters with cute fur seal pups that can be inquisitive, and also to try and chase you and snarl at you, pretending to be bull seals!
The sea passage, following the Scotia ridge, can be spectacular for seabirds and cetaceans.