"On the edge of Antarctica" Top 5 Page for this destination South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands by MikeAtSea
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Travel Guide: 76 reviews and 120 photos
"If you were to take a giant carving knife, slice along beneath on of the highest mountain ridges of Switzerland, just where the huge glaciers tumble into the valley below, and then drop your slice of mountain, dripping sugar-icing, into the sea, I think you would get a fair idea of the place. For it is long and narrow, and everywhere the snow-covered mountains rise straight from the water, reaching, near the centre of the island to a height of almost 3000 meters. Seen from afar on an early spring day, South Georgia is a breath-taking sight and one not easily forgotten." (Niall Rankin, 1946)
The discovery of South Georgia was actually an accident. In 1675 a London merchant Antoine de la Roche was blown far off course while rounding Cape Horn and took shelter in a bay of a large island. His records sadly have been lost, but it appears that his ship may have anchored in what is now known as Drygalski Fjord. The next recorded sighting was in 1756 by the Spanish ship Leon. A French passenger who was onboard described the island and gave it the name Ile de St. Pierre after the saints day on July 1st.
The first landings were made by the British explorer Captain James Cook on his second voyage around the world.
On January 14, 1775 Midshipman Thomas Willis sighted a large iceberg. As the ship approached it became clear that it was in fact an island, now known as the Willis Island at the north-western end of South Georgia. January 17, 1775 marked the first landing in an area now called Possession Bay. The islands were declared as possession in his Majesty's name. Utter amazement was received by the abundance of seals and penguins.
Captain Cook continued to sail southeastwards along the coast, thinking he had discovered the long-sought after southern continent, until he turned a corner. He found that he was looking westwards towards Willis Island and realized that he had only found a long and narrow island. That corner is still called Cape Disappointment.
Cooks reports attracted sealers to the island and hunted fur and elephant seals. Whalers started arriving at the start of the 20th century. Humans achieved the biggest carnage ever possible, and almost all of the natural beauty and abundance of wildlife was wiped out. Hence once the industry collapsed the islands principal activity was science, only interrupted when Argentinian troops landed here in 1982.
South Georgia is a natural jewel - without any doubt. When I first had a glimpse of the island I was astonished to see how "busy" the island is. Penguins, seals, whales and birds almost cover the entire shore line.
The thrill to see the beauty of the rugged grandeur of the mountains and glaciers are simply breathtaking. Its colonies of birds and seals today provide some of the greatest and most approachable concentrations of wildlife on earth! One has to see it with once own eyes - I can honestly say that the first glimpse took my breath away!
In the region you are bound to be making a number of wet landings in zodiacs - hence waterproof boots are strongly... more travel advice
Here on Prion Island some 2000 Gentoo Penguins have created their colony. The colony is situated high above the ground... more travel advice
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