Typical South Georgia Itinerary
From SARAH VORWERK:
Explore Antarctica, South Georgia, Falkland Islands, Cape Horn, Tierra
Del Fuego, Patagonia ! We provide profound knowledge and logistics for:ocean
sailing, sailing adventure, sailing expeditions, whale-watching, ornithologists,
film, hiking, climbing, trekking, kayaking, scuba-diving, ice-diving. Come
and see Antarctica, cape horn, glaciers, icebergs, fjords, waterfalls, guanacos,
albatross, penguins, whales, humpback whales.
South Georgia has been described as like 'the Himalayas seen from Simla'
as the mountains are a magnificent sight - especially in moonlight. It is
the highest , most mountainous and second largest of the small number of
islands which encircle the continent of Antarctica. Two principal mountain
chains effectively form the islands spine. The highest peak is Mount Paget
(2.934 m), whilst 12 other peaks exceed 2000 m. The highest peaks are concentrated
mainly around the middle section of the crescent shaped island, where they
provide a substantial barrier against the severe weather which reaches the
south-west side of the island with the prevailing winds. The area in the
lee has a comparatively less severe climate. South Georgia is 106 miles
long and 1- 19 miles wide and is best reached from the Falkland Islands,
within 5-6 sailing days. The coast consists mainly of high sea cliffs which
are interrupted by many fjords and glaciers. The fjords provide a variety
of harbors and anchorages, some deep and clear, others with sunken rocks
and reefs, many of them have glaciers at their heads. Glacier snouts, which
reach the ocean or waters of the bays and fjords, can be very spectacular
- especially when enormous pieces break off and crash into the water (a
process, termed calving). Bergy bits, growlers and brash ice infest many
bays, mainly during early summer. Permanent snow begins at 200 m on the
exposed south-west side and 400 m on the protected north-east side. The
mountains are dissected by large numbers of deep fjords, most of which contain
glaciers. 50% of South Georgia is covered by glaciers. Some floating glacier
fronts may be up to 50 m high, 250 m deep and over 1 km wide. There are
over two dozen lakes in the island. Several of them have been formed, where
glaciers have dammed valleys. Gulbrandsen Lake, near Husvik, is the largest
and most spectacular of these with icebergs floating in it and a series
of over 12 major terraces on its shores (representing previous lake levels).
Ponds, pools and tarns are common throughout the island. Another distinctive
ground feature is found near many flatter areas of the coast behind beaches
.- elephant seal wallows. These are formed by the seals lying closely packed,
in mud during their moulting periods (February, March). The wallows are
often 1 m deep and become exceedingly fetid with skin, fur, feces, combined
with thin mud and the occasional dead seal.
There are millions of breeding seals and penguins: 3 million Macaroni Penguins,
1 million Fur Seals, 360,000 Sea Elephants, 400,000 Gentoo Penguins, 300,000
King Penguins (of which 100,000 at St. Andrews Bay). Also a vast number
of breeding Albatross (Wandering) are to be seen.
Until the middle of this century, South Georgia had been a center for the
whaling industries. During the last century a couple of whaling stations
had been established, the last one was abandoned in 1965. Grytviken was
the main settlement with church and cinema. The ruins have been re-occupied
by the seals. The church has been saved and restored, the cinema fell into
shambles in 1996.
South Georgia is English territory and was declared a nature reserve. It
is administered by the Falkland Dependency Administration and counts two
research and one administrative settlement (clearance and post office).
1. DAY MOUNT PLEASANT - PORT STANLEY
We pick you up by jeep from Mount Pleasant Airport. The military area -
1 hour drive through the Falklands, across one of the three tarred roads
of the Island - first impression with' stone runs', farms and lakes at the
horizon - arrival at the yacht - you choose your bunk and get familiar with
the boat - visit to the local pub to get to know some Falkland people.
2.-6. DAY PORT STANLEY - SOUTH GEORGIA
Southern ocean - 600 sea miles - wonderful seas with tough but beautiful
sailing - everyone participates in the 2-4 hour watches - Albatross (e.g.
Wandering Albatross), Cape Pigeons and Petrels follow us - closer to South
Georgia we might see whales - we start looking for ice bergs - 4th or 5th
day we make the landfall but follow the coast until King Edward Point, where
we have to do the clearance.
7. - 8. DAY GRYTVIKEN
Clearance formalities - station visit - ruins, church and other historical
places (Shakleton´s grave) of Grytviken - museum - sea elephants -
wrecks and whaling station.
TREKKING: 2.5 hours to Mount Hodges - first magnificent view across the
island and Cumberland Bay - glaciers near by and the highest mountain of
South Georgia, Mount Paget (2,934m) in the far distance.
9. DAY GRYTVIKEN - MAIVIKEN
TREKKING: We follow the east coast of Cumberland Bay until Maiviken, a small
settlement - the yacht picks us up and we set sails to look for a good anchorage
in one of the nearby creeks.
10. DAY MAIVIKEN - LARSSEN FJORD
We approach our first glacier as close as possible.
TREKKING: possibility to get some ice experience - we might find some safe
ice caves, that would be tremendous: blue-white glossy and shining ice walls,
11. DAY LARSSEN FJORD - OCEAN HARBOR
Well preserved ship wreck from the 19th century - sea elephant and fur seal
colonies - walking inland we might view some reindeers and waterfalls -
like the reindeer also rats had been introduced by man, rats now infest
most of the northern shores of the island and are a severe danger for the
indigenous plants and animals.
12. - 13. DAY OCENA HARBOR - ST. ANDREWS BAY
TREKKING: we can hike along the coast towards St. Andrews Bay.
Breeding colony of approximately 100,000 king penguin close to the Heaney
Glacier - king penguins are 1 meter tall and the most elegant of all penguins
- the emperor penguin is taller but less elegant and breeds during winter,
therefore he is very difficult to reach - the king penguin breeds on some
sub antarctic islands that get hardly reached by passenger ships, they do
not breed on Antarctica itself - therefore this is a truly unique opportunity.
TREKKING: reaching the Nordenskjöld top (2,355m) would take 2-3 days
severe mountaineering, including the crossing of some glacier fields.
14. DAY ST. ANDREWS BAY - GOLD HARBOR
Again we get a splendid opportunity to watch the king penguins - slowly
we will continue towards Gold Harbor.
15. DAY GOLD HARBOR - COOPER BAY
We have reached the most southern point of South Georgia (54°50 South,
35°45 West) - the coast is exposed to heavy storms and therefore consists
of high cliffs and deep fjords.
16. DAY COOPER BAY - LARSSON HARBOR
Larsson Harbor is a small fjord near the entrance to the enormous Drygalski
Glacier - huge stone walls rise sky-high out of the southern ocean and produce
a surrealistic atmosphere.
17. DAY DRYGALSKI FJORD
The most active and spectacular of all glaciers of South Georgia - the sea
is covered by ice and ice bergs - the iceberg calving produces tremendous
noise and reminds us of the immense natural force involved with this spectacle
- blue-eyed cormorant colony.
18. DAY DRYGALSKI FJORD - ROYAL BAY
TREKKING: we observe the king penguin colony at Royal Bay and continue in
westerly direction towards St. Andrews Bay - the path is rocky - we reach
a plateau and have a magnificent view of the huge colonies of Royal Bay
and St. Andrews Bay.
19. DAY ROYAL BAY - GODTHULL
Remaining ruins from a whaling station - rusty factory units and whale bones
remind us of the industrial past of this island.
20. DAY GODTHULL - COBBLER'S COVE
We anchor in a tiny but totally calm bay, though the entrance is difficult.
TREKKING: relatively easy we can reach a good height from where we can overlook
the whole Cumberland Bay.
21. DAY COBBLER'S COVE - LEITH HARBOUR - STROMNESS BAY - HUSVIK
We will see 3 whaling stations today - huge, industrial installations give
us an indication about the enormous scale of these whaling factories.
22. DAY STROMNESS BAY - FORTUNA BAY - HERCULES BAY
Biggest colony of macaroni penguins with approximately 80,000 animals.
23. DAY HERCULES BAY - PRINCE OLAV HARBOR - BAY OF ISLES - ALBATROSS ISLAND
At Prince Olav Harbor we visit for the last time a whaling station - at
Bay of Isles we can watch huge numbers of fur seals and breeding Albatross
- due to the high concentration of fur seals at Rosita Harbor it is impossible
to make a landfall here - at Albatross Island we get perfect opportunities
to watch breeding Albatross: Wandering, Sooty, Giant Petrel and Grey Headed
24. DAY ALBATROSS ISLAND - ELSEHUL
TREKKING: last opportunity for a long track to the most south-western part
of the island - we can reach as far as Undine Harbor and Cape Paryadin -
we watch the tumultuous Sea Strait between Bird Island and South Georgia,
totally exposed to all seas and weathers - several breeding Albatross -
this is a fulfilling moment and the right spot for our last day at South
25. - 32. DAY SOUTH GEORGIA - FALKLANDS
33. DAY PORT STANLEY - GOOSE GREEN
After 30 days of near isolation we will enjoy the advantages of civilization
again - sail along the southern part of East Falkland Island - Goose Green
was one of the important battle grounds - Argentinean war cemetery - Goose
Green is one of the biggest farms of the Falklands.
34. DAY GOOSE GREEN - PORT STANLEY
Sail back to Port Stanley and preparations for the departure.
35. DAY PORT STANLEY - MOUNT PLEASANT
By jeep back to Mount Pleasant Airport.
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