Category: British Overseas Territories

South Georgia – Aurora Expeditions – Day 10


Or last day at South Georgia didn’t start off the best, our early morning Zodiac cruise had to be canceled because of high winds, but that did mean we got a little extra snooze time. And by the time the Polar Pioneer had sailed to the second location of the day, Gold Harbor, the weather had changed to the best weather of the trip.

Gold Harbor had a large rocky beach filled with Elephant Seals looking for romance and some Fur Seals. Just inland of the beach were tens of thousands of the strange fuzzy brown juvenile King Penguins along with their more majestic looking parents. A short hike from the beach was the Bertrab hanging glacier that a group of us walked to for a closer view of the glacier. The view of the glacier was impressive and the glacier was making lots of creaking and cracking noises as the day warmed up, so we hoped to see the glacier calving, but luck wasn’t with us and we had to settle for just enjoying the view.

South Georgia, King Penguins

King Penguins

Gentoo Penguin, South Georgia, Nest, Baby, Chick

On the hike to the glacier we passed a Gentoo Penguen colony. Some of the gentoos were setting on eggs and a few already have hatched.

South Georgia, Bertrab Glacier

Bertrab Glacier

South Georgia, Gold Harbor, King Penguins

Panorama from a hill overlooking the beach at Gold Harbor

King Penguin, South Georgia

King Penguin

After we returned to the Polar Pioneer for Lunch the ship sailed to Cooper Bay so that we could make a quick landing on shore to see a colony of Macaroni Penguins. That was followed by a short Zodiac cruise around the area.

Macaroni Penguins

Macaroni Penguins in Love

Rocks, South Georgia, Waves

I told the pilot of our Zodiac that I was pretty sure we could make it through the rocks if he timed it right, but I couldn't get him to go for it.

Chinstrap Penguin

Chinstrap Penguin

The last location for the day was sailing the Polar Pioneer down the Drygalski Fjord. The fjord was lined with towering cliffs and glaciers.

Polar Pioneer, Fjord, Glacier, Drygalski Fjord

Panorama of the Polar Pioneer at the end of Drygalski Fjord

South Georgia – Aurora Expeditions – Day 9

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Day 3 at South Georgia started out early again with a pre breakfast Zodiac cruise around Hercules Bay.

South Georgia, Juvenile King Cormorant

Juvenile King Cormorant

After the Zodiac cruise everyone ate breakfast while the Polar Pioneer moved to our next location for the day, Prion Island, a nesting area for Wandering Albatrosses. We spent a couple of hours there before heading back to the ship for lunch.

South Georgia, Juvenile Wandering Albatross, Prion Island

Juvenile Wandering Albatross


Brown Skua

While we were eating lunch the Polar Pioneer moved a short distance to our third location for the day, Salisbury Plain, the largest area of flat land on South Georgia Island and home to tens of thousands of King Penguins.

King Penguin, South Georgia

King Penguins everywhere

King Penguin, South Georgia, Fur Seal

The King Penguins sometimes had a scary commute to get to the ocean to feed.

King Penguin, South Georgia

King Penguin emerging safely from the surf

King Penguin, South Georgia, Injured

Not everyone makes it out of the ocean fully intact

Panorama, Salisbury Plain, King Penguin, South Georgia

Panorama of the tens of thousands of King Penguins on Salisbury Plain

King Penguin, South Georgia

Wishing of wings that work

King Penguin, South Georgia

Cute Couple

South Georgia – Aurora Expeditions – Day 8

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Today started off with an extra early start, a 5 AM light breakfast and landing at Fortuna Bay. The plan was to do a 3.5 mile hike up the mountain, through a pass and down the other side into Stromness Bay where an abandoned whaling station was located. The hike followed the last little bit of the route that Ernest Shackleton took on his epic rescue journey in 1916.

The hike up the mountain to the pass was a bit of work, but coming down the other side was made easy because there was still enough snow on that side of the mountain that we were able to do a bum slide down, which was fun, but made me wish I had brought my skis.

South Georgia, Polar Pioneer

The group starting out on our hike, the Polar Pioneer in the background

The final destination of our hike was the abandoned Stromness whaling station.

South Georgia, Panorama, Stromness whaling station

Panorama of the abandoned Stromness whaling station

South Georgia, Stromness whaling station, Gentoo Penguin

Gentoo Penguin in front of Stromness

South Georgia, Gentoo Penguin

Run Forrest, Run...wait, that's not right. Run, Little Gentoo, Run!

In the afternoon the ship changed locations to Grytviken (Swedish for “The Pot Cove”), another abandoned whaling station, but now the main settlement on South Georgia for the small group of British government officers, administration and researchers that live there. Grytviken didn’t have a lot of wildlife, only a few Elephant Seals, some Far Seals and a few scattered King Penguins. What made Grytviken interesting was being able to explore the hulking, rusting machinery from the abandoned whaling station.

Grytviken, Machinery, abandoned whaling station

Rusting Machinery

Grytviken, Machinery, abandoned whaling station

Grytviken, Machinery, abandoned whaling station

Grytviken, Buildings

Not everything is abandoned at Grytviken

South Georgia – Aurora Expeditions – Day 7

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After two and half days at sea the Polar Pioneer has reached South Georgia. South Georgia is a remote collection of sub-antarctic islands made up of the main South Georgia Island surrounded by many smaller islands that are located about 1335 miles East of South America. The islands are uninhabited except for a small group of British government officers, administration and researchers.

What makes the South Georgia Islands interesting is the rugged landscapes, huge glaciers and large amounts of bird and marine wildlife.

Our first stop at South Georgia was Elsehul (Norwegian for Else Cove). After breakfast we boarded the Zodiacs for several hours of cruising around the cove take photos of the impressive landscapes and wildlife.

South Georgia Island, Landscape

South Georgia Island

Far Seal, Penguin, South Georgia Island

Best Buds

Fur Seal, South Georgia Island

Fur Seal

Fur Seal, South Georgia Island

This guy had been fighting with another Fur Seal

We returned to the Polar Pioneer for lunch and so that the ship could move to our second location for the day, Right Whale Bay. At this location we went ashore at Binder Beach and we able to spend several hours photographing a large colony of King Penguins along with Elephant Seals and Fur Seals.

King Penguin, South Goergia Island

Thousands of King Penguins at Binder Beach in Right Whale Bay

The King Penguins were curious about the strange new objects that had shown up on their beach

King Penguin, South Georgia Island

Juvenile King Penguin looking for his lunch.


Regal King Penguin

As we were ashore the weather started to turn for the worse with howling winds and snow, so as amazing as it was, it was good to return to the warmth of the ship at the end of the day.

Falkland Islands – Aurora Expeditions – Day 4

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The ship spent the night heading for Standley, the main town and capitol of the Falkland Islands. Once the ship arrived at Standley we were able to spend the morning wandering around town taking photos before heading back to the ship for lunch and to start our journey for our next location, South Georgia Island.

Falkland Islands, Standley, Panorama

Panorama of Standley, Falkland Islands

Flower, Dew

Panorama, Church, Falkland Islands, Christ Church Cathedral

Vertical Panorama of Christ Church Cathedral

Falkland Islands, Standley, Shipwreck


Falkland Islands – Aurora Expeditions – Day 3

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This morning we arrived at the Falkland Islands. The plan for the day was to go ashore on two of the smaller, mostly uninhabited islands that make up part of the 740 islands of the Falklands. Our first stop was Sea Lion Island. When the ship first arrived and dropped anchor we saw four Orca Whales off in the distance. Unfortunately for us, the surf was too high to safely land our Zodiacs on Sea Lion Island, so it was decided that we would move on to the second island were were going to visit.

Bleaker Island had a cove that provided shelter from the larger ocean waves and made taking the Zodiacs ashore fairly easy. Making it even easier was that there was a small sheep farm on the island and we were able to land the Zodiacs at the small pier for the farm.

Once on Bleaker Island we were able to wander around and explore. The first interesting thing I found was a large colonies of King Cormorains.

Bleaker Island, Falkland Islands, Bird, King Cormorant

A Skua looking for tasty King Cormorant eggs

Bleaker Island, Falkland Islands, Bird, King Cormorant

King Cormorant

Then I spend some time taking photos and videos of the funny little Rockhopper Penguins that make their nests on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. I got to see the food chain in action when a sea lion attacked and ate one of the Rockhoppers in the surf below the cliff I was on. Unfortunately my photos of the attack were not very good.

Bleaker Island, Falkland Islands, Bird, Rockhopper Penguins

Rockhopper Penguins

Who would have thought that sweet sweet penguin love would be so violent.

After the Rockhoppers I was wandering around when I noticed that I was being watching from a small hole in the ground. On looking a little closer I realized it was the strange Magellanic Penguin that builds tunnels in the ground to nest in. I’ve always thought of penguins in the snow and ice, so it’s a bit strange seeing penguins digging holes in the grass like a rabbit.

Bleaker Island, Falkland Islands, Bird, Magellanic Penguin

Magellanic Penguin