We arrived at South Georgia on Thursday, February 10th. The first stop was the old whaling station and now research station at Grytviken. There are less than 50 people on the island and they are at least 3 days sail to the closest hospital, so they did not want us to land there but we were able to go out on the zodiacs for a tour around the bay to take pictures and see the sights. This actually worked out well because other than the abandoned whaling station, that you can’t go in to because it’s falling apart, there isn’t much else here other than the wildlife and you could see it better from the zodiac. Silversea always tries to to what they can to make it a great experience, so after riding around for 45 minutes, we were met by a zodiac with a group of servers from the ship bringing hot chocolate, mulled wine and champaign. So we all enjoyed a refreshment break before heading back to the ship.
Next stop, Fortuna Bay. This has been almost breathtaking. It’s hard to describe the number of seals and penguins that are everywhere you look and they are not at all disturbed by us visiting them. The young ones will walk right up to you and investigate to see what you are and smell like. If you sit on the ground, the King Penguins will walk right up to you. The expedition team had to keep shooing them away from our landing site because we could not get in and out of the zodiacs. After doing some looking around, I headed off to the rookery where the King Penguins hatch their eggs and raise the babies. It was about a mile walk and ended up on a ridge overlooking the rookery.
The last stop was a place called Stromness which was a couple of more old whaling stations that were in even worse shape than Grytviken. The real draw here was going to be a hike to a waterfall that Ernest Shackelton climbed down to get to the whaling village to get help for his crew that was stranded back in Antarctica. I say climbed down because it was winter and the water fall was frozen. The bay here is pretty well protected, but we had a major storm coming in and even in this area it was going to be to rough to launch the zodiacs. We kind of toured the bay on the ship for about an hour and by then the winds were over 50mph and getting stronger, so the captain decided it was time to leave and start heading toward Tristan da Cunha which was supposed to be the next stop. I say “supposed to be” because we were informed several days ago that we would not be able to land there. Once again, very small population and they have had no Covid infections this whole time, so they’re a little protective.
If you ever wondered where the middle of no where is, I found it. We’re a thousand miles from South Georgia and two thousand from Antarctica and we still have a thousand miles to get to Tristan da Cunha. If you look at any of the ship tracking apps, there is no one close to us and won’t be for a couple more days. When we get to Tristan da Cunha, the plan is to circle the island from a very close distance so we can at least see some of the sights. This happened to us at Easter Island 2 years ago and is better than it sounds. The good news is once we get to Cape Town, we should be open for all the shore excursions going forward. I have several game drives scheduled, so I’m hopeful, we’ll get a feel for the wildlife there.