King George Island

King George Island is the largest of the South Shetland Islands and lies some 75 miles off the coast of Antarctica. It was first claimed by the British in 1819 and named after King George III but years of disputes as to the ownership of the island followed.

It now serves as an aerodrome for flights to Antarctica, and is known as the unofficial capital of the continent because of the many different research stations there. In some form or another, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, South Korea, Poland, Russia, Uruguay, the Netherlands, Ecuador, Germany, Peru and the US all have a presence on the island. In so doing, these countries earn the status of a consultative party, or full member, of the Antarctic Treaty.

How to Visit:

As the largest of the South Shetland Islands and so accessible from Patagonia, a visit to King George island is included in most itineraries:

Antarctic Peninsula cruises often start with a visit to King George Island as it is the first major outcrop of land after navigating the Drake Passage southwards and is home to many marine mammals such as Elephant, Weddell and Leopard seals, as well as majestic colonies of Chinstrap and Gentoo penguins.

Fly-and-Cruise expeditions land / take off from the runway at King George. These trips allow travellers to fly across the dreaded Drake Passage from the town of Punta Arenas in southern Chilean Patagonia, saving 2-3 days of time at sea - an important consideration for those either short on time or avert to sea-travel. Travellers then board their cruise ship when in Antarctia, thereby sailing across the Drake only once.

Map of King George Island

Nearby landmarks

Trips that visit King George Island