South Shetland Islands

The South Shetland Islands are the first place you'll land after crossing the Drake Passage from Patagonia en route to the Antarctic Peninsula. The islands themselves are made up of 20 islands including Deception Island, Livingston Island, King George Island (where most fly-and-cruise trips depart). The South Shetland Islands were first reached in February 1819 and since then, have become home to Chilean and Argentinian research bases.

The South Shetland Islands really are teeming with wildlife and as such are included in all itineraries visiting the Antarctic Peninsula. Here you can expect to see huge penguin rookeries and several seal species lounging on land. On King George Island, you can see Adélie and Chinstrap penguin colonies, as well as Kelp Gulls, Blue-eyed Cormorants, Antarctic Terns and Southern Giant Petrels.

Find out more about visiting the South Shetland Islands on an Antarctic fly-and-cruise trip or browse cruises that visit the Antarctic Peninsula.