"On the edge of Antarctica" Top 5 Page for this destination South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands by MikeAtSea

"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!

  • Last visit to South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands: Jan 2007
  • Intro Updated Jan 23, 2007
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Reviews (49)

Comments (9)

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Dec 8, 2010 at 4:20 AM

    Michael, thanks for your splendid presentation!

  • SLLiew's Profile Photo
    Jul 31, 2009 at 2:38 PM

    Enjoyed a virtual tour of South Georgia. Great stuff.

  • Kajser-MK's Profile Photo
    Aug 7, 2007 at 12:30 AM

    South Georgia looks like a wonderful place to explore. A real escape from the everyday stress.... I would love to see it one day. Lovely pages BTW. Aleksandar from Macedonia

  • victorwkf's Profile Photo
    Mar 1, 2007 at 3:40 AM

    South Georgia is really a place to get away from it all :)

  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
    Feb 25, 2007 at 3:07 PM

    What a fantastic adventure!

  • Trekki's Profile Photo
    Feb 24, 2007 at 10:44 AM

    Ah, fantastic ! Sine I heard of Shackleton's voyages as a kid, South Georgia is a dream of mine, but might stay as such. So even better to read and look - and oh my god, I am still laughing tears about the penguins - so adorable :-))

  • craic's Profile Photo
    Jan 14, 2007 at 9:41 AM

    well this is a fascintaing place

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    Jan 14, 2007 at 6:09 AM

    Mike, fabulous little page with brillaint photos. This seems to be a fascinating region. Keep up the good work ... :-)

  • mikelisaanna's Profile Photo
    Jan 13, 2007 at 8:29 AM

    South Geaorgia looks beautiful. Our daughter enjoyed the penguin and seal photos. Thanks for the tips and photos.

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