November 20th - South Georgia

We were up at 5am for a quick breakfast before disembarkation at 6.30. Our first view of South Georgia and Salisbury Plain, our landing point.

We took the Zodiac ashore and arrived at Salisbury Plain to see an entire beach filled with king penguins, fur seals (eared) and elephant seals.


Looking back to Prince Albert II, at anchor in the bay.

Some penguins and seals were so close to us it was hard to walk around, even though we were told by the expedition team to keep our distance. Some of the seals were rather aggressive and unpredictable, so we had to be very careful and watch where we stepped.

As we walked uphill to the penguin colony, some of the fur seals rushed towards people in a very off-putting way! There were thousands of adult king penguins and babies. The young ones were quite large and very sweet with fluffy brown downy feathers. We crouched down low or sat on the ground to be at their level and they came up very close to look at us. It was noisy and very smelly, but it was wonderful to be in the midst of so many penguins.


We spent nearly an hour in the colony. It was a very special moment for all of us. We then retraced our steps back to the beach taking photos of seals, penguins and sea lions that were lying on the beach sunning themselves.


We boarded our Zodiac and went back to the ship for an early lunch and headed for Stromness, an old whaling station. We passed a beautiful large iceberg and then we began to see many more.

One of the colossal tabular bergs that were to become a common sight as we sailed down the eastern side of South Georgia.

The weather was fantastic. Beautiful sunshine and not too cold when the wind wasn't blowing. A great photo of Richard enjoying himself at the stern of the boat.

We weren't able to go ashore at Stromness, but we moored close in and Victoria told us about it. As we approached Stromness we sailed close to this pure white iceberg in the bay.

Stromness and the mountains behind, over which Shackleton climbed on his epic trek across South Georgia.

Stromness was where Shackleton, Crean and Worsley  finally found help for themselves and the other men on their expedition. One of the buildings here, the Villa, was being preserved. It was the house of the manager of the whaling station where Shackleton's ordeal mercifully came to an end after his trek across South Georgia. The Villa is the white house on the far left.

We sailed on to Grytviken, where Shackleton was finally buried. As we got close to our anchorage, we went past a wrecked Argentinian landing craft stranded on the beach by the post office.

We dropped anchor and took the Zodiacs ashore to see Shackleton's grave. Looking back to the ship.

We walked the short distance to the cemetery, where the crew served us all with Champagne to drink at the graveside while the Captain gave a short speech to toast Shackleton. Tim posed for photos with the picture of the James Caird which we had brought as a gift from Dulwich College.

We walked on, past marauding seals, abandoned whaling machinery and shipwrecks, to the Norwegian-built church where Shackleton's body lay before burial.

Inside the simple church was a tribute to him. The church came prefabricated from Norway and was consecrated in 1913. There was a small library near the vestry.

Inside the church there was this plaque commemorating Shackleton,  given by the James Caird Society.

Outside, we saw Antarctic terns and also pin-tailed ducks, which are flesh-eating and found only on South Georgia. The small museum was well laid-out with interesting exhibits, including this wandering albatross. 

We gave the James Caird picture to Elsa, the young Scottish curator. We thought it would be better to display it in the museum than have it exposed to the extreme weather conditions outside in the cemetery. Elsa kindly showed us the replica of the James Caird donated to the museum, but not yet on display to the public.

We went on a long walk to the Post Office with Guillermo and Lorena from Mexico. We bought penguin stamps there and encountered many seals, especially elephant seals, on the way. After we left the post office, I noticed this lenticular cloud, illuminated by the evening sun.

We had our own personal Zodiac driven by Jarda back to the ship. 

We had a drink with Peter and Pauline in the bar upstairs. After a quick dinner, we went straight to bed exhausted after a long but wonderful day.

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