Reasons to go
- An unparalleled wildlife hotspot - the Serengeti of the Southern Ocean - home to some of the world’s greatest concentrations of wildlife
- Experience some of the most majestic, unspoiled and least visited scenery on earth
- A mecca for photographers, both amateur and professional alike
- A Rich history of fascinating characters including sealers, whalers and early explorers from The Heroic Era, including Shackleton
- Vast king penguin colonies numbering over 200,000 individual birds, alongside countless albatross, elephant and fur seals
South Georgia Photographs
The largest of the former whaling stations, sleepy Grytviken is a mandatory port of call for all visitors and where your passport gets stamped.
The island’s best natural harbour, it's also home to the church, museum and post office. Raise a glass at the gravesite of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his loyal right hand man, Frank Wild, who are interned in the whaler’s cemetery. It's also a fun place to send postcards home.
St Andrews Bay
Imagine a pristine 2 mile/ 3.2km long beach commanding panoramic views, framed by a rugged mountainous backdrop and dense with up to 300,000 King Penguins - the island’s largest colony - as well as countless seals. It's an exhilarating location to put it mildly.
The colour, the noise, the smell guarantee a visual and sensory overload matched by very few other wildlife destinations on earth.
History comes into sharp focus at Stromness. It's not only the most well preserved of the former whaling stations, but it's also from where Shackleton in 1916 after a gruelling journey raised the alarm and ultimately rescued his beleaguered men from Elephant Island.
Weather-permitting the Shackleton Walk - hiking the last few miles from Fortuna Bay to Stromness following the footsteps of Shackleton - is well worth the effort.
So called because the sun's rays make the cliffs glow yellow in morning and evening light, this small bay is a beautiful place with the beach ringed in by a curtain of vertical cliffs and hanging glaciers.
It's also home to an abundance of wildlife, including a large king penguin colony and breeding elephant seals.
One of the island’s ‘must-see’ landing sites and eagerly anticipated, the sheer profusion of wildlife is overwhelming.
Standing amongst the tussock grass above the beach with paired glaciers to left and right, the sight of up to quarter of a million individual king penguins - interspersed by vast numbers of fur and elephant seals - all scattered across the broad plain below is staggering and a challenge to really compute.
What Our Customers Think
The highlights were the Shackleton history and being able to stand on the top of the pass where the trio looked down on the whaling base at Stromness - their destination.
Neill New Zealand November 2017
South Georgia was simply amazing and quite overwhelming in its abundance of wildlife and history. To have king penguins filled with curiosity and pecking on our boots was unexpected and something we’ll never forget.
Phil & Mickey, Australia December 2015
The king penguins on Salisbury Plain were something I've never experienced before - unbelievable; the wildlife was fantastic.
Glyn, UK March 2016
South Georgia was a delightful surprise – far more to offer than I could have imagined. I knew about the whaling industry & Shackleton but was thrilled with the number of kayak outings & landings we made here. The old whaling stations were particularly overwhelming & emotional.
Freda, UK January 2017
Too many highlights to pick out one in particular, but South Georgia is a must do. Landscapes were simply awesome. The wildlife was much more plentiful than I imagined, also unafraid and curious.
Kay and David UK February 2017
Tips on Choosing the right voyage
Given the overall time and cost factors involved with a once-in-a-lifetime trip like this choosing exactly the right trip for you is crucial. To help you get started, here are a few tips on key areas you should be considering:
- The Itinerary: There’s surprising variation - between 3 - 6 days - in the time different trips actually spent in South Georgia
- When to Go: With each month having particular nuances in both wildlife activity and weather, identify the best time for you and your interests (e.g. photography)
- Ship size & stability: Given the amount of time you’ll be spending on board ship on the Southern Ocean, carefully choosing the right ship pays real dividends
- Cabin size: For the length of trip it's definitely worth considering a little extra room where you can have some privacy when booking your cabin
- Calibre of staff: If top notch guides are important to you, there are significant variations between ships in the calibre and staff-to-passenger ratio
Alongside the obvious highlights of the destinations themselves, we like this voyage for this ship’s renowned stability - ensuring more comfortable sea days - and for having only 96 passengers aboard. Combined with a sizeable expeditionary staff and an extensive…
One of the earliest voyages of the Antarctic season, if its pristine landing sites, heavy ice, fantastic photographic conditions and great value for money you’re looking for, this 20-day trip should definitely be on your shortlist. You’ll also appreciate just…
Comfort & Adventure
Voyage south in Shackleton’s footsteps, exploring the highlights of the Southern Ocean as part of this ‘classic’ 20-day adventure. A well-balanced itinerary and the choice between 3 well-appointed expedition ships (capacity 132 - 199 guests) really marks this trip out.…
Designed by an operator with 50 years of Polar experience, from the balance of the 23-day itinerary to the wealth of onboard expertise and utilising state-of-the-art expedition ships, this trip has a real ‘pedigree’. Explore with the pioneers of Polar…
Luxury & Fine Dining
Looking for an Antarctic adventure without compromising on comfort and service? Look no further. Benefitting from a $10 million refurbishment, this stylish 110-passenger ship, with its cavernous suites, fine dining and compelling itinerary, offers a very polished Southern Ocean adventure,…
For a truly 5 star Southern Ocean experience, this is the voyage to consider. Cosseted aboard the most luxurious, all-inclusive small expedition ship currently in Antarctica, enjoy outstanding cuisine, impeccable service and daily guided excursions. With only two 18-day departure…
Travelling aboard a modern, luxury, custom built expedition ship offering balconied cabins, excellent amenities, speed through the water and outstanding food, all you’ve got to do is sit back and enjoy the adventure. The all-inclusive price provides very good value…
South Georgia Only
On South Georgia we sometimes had a real challenge to find a safe landing place for the zodiacs because the beach was so packed with elephant and fur seals. The sheer quantity of animals is staggering.
firstname.lastname@example.org Polar Specialist
When to Go
The visitor season is limited to November through to March when the weather should be at its more benign, although it’s far from guaranteed! Within this 5 month ‘visitor window’ it's important to be aware of the nuances in terms of both wildlife and weather:
South Georgia’s prodigious wildlife fit broadly into 4 main categories: penguins, birds, whales & seals. Understanding their respective breeding cycles and at what stage they will be at when you plan to visit is a key consideration.
‘Unpredictable’ is a fitting way to describe South Georgia’s weather, particularly during the spring (November) and autumn (March). This means that a flexible approach needs to be taken to planned landings. On the plus, changeable light conditions and dramatic weather is often welcomed by photographers. Things to consider:
- November - Battling bull elephant seals at this time make for great drama and photo opportunities
- December - Sheer density of animals can make landings are real challenge on certain landings
- January - Prion Island, a favourite for birders due to the albatross, becomes accessible from 7th Jan
When to Book
The short answer is simply as soon as possible. There are not only far fewer of these longer voyages than the more regular trips to the Antarctic Peninsula only, but because they’re so amazing they’re also very popular and always in high demand.
To be confident of securing your preferred first choice you should start planning as early as possible, and then ideally booking 12 - 18 months in advance. This may also mean you can take advantage of possible early booking discounts.
Voyage dates are typically released by the different boat operators between 15 - 20 months in advance.
How much does it cost
It’s an important question to ask up front and before getting too carried away. It’s by virtue of its location an expensive place to visit, but be warned, if you go once it’ll be hard to stay away.
Prices start from around $8,500 per person, but vary markedly depending on the trip, ship, timing of travel and cabin category you choose.
While discounts are rare, those people booking early can take advantage of early booking incentives of up to USD$1,500 per person offered on select trips.
It’s a substantial investment, but in well over a decade of helping people experience South Georgia, nobody has ever been remotely disappointed.
South Georgia really is one of the world's 'wildlife mecca's, as well as rich historically - if you can possibly spare the time and find the budget to get there, you would be mad not to consider it.
South Georgia Cruises: Your Questions Answered
This will very much depend on which voyage you choose, most voyages spend between 3- 5 days exploring South Georgia, while the maximum is 8 days.
A crucial question for photographers in particular. As ship’s don’t suffer from the same weight limitations as airlines, there are no restrictions once on board the vessel. However, you need to check weight limits on the domestic flights, which are typically only 15-20kg for hold luggage.
The answer is ‘Yes’. The kitchens on all ships are very experienced at catering for all food requirements, whether you are vegetarian, gluten free, lactose intolerant, or just prefer to avoid certain foods.
The visitor season runs from late October to end March. There isn’t a ‘best time’ to visit as such, there’s always huge amounts of wildlife and the weather is changeable. November and March are chillier, but the softer light is favourable for photographers. Keen birders should be aware that Prion Island is only accessible from 7th January each year.
Penguins, seals and birds are found on South Georgia literally in their millions. There’s also a good chance of seeing whales. Visit our South Georgia Wildlife page for more information.
Looking for a shorter cruise?
Whilst a magnificent sea journey, the number of vacation days required to visit the islands of South Georgia & the Falklands can be too great a constraint for some people.
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