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
    • 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

    Top Landing Sites on South Georgia

    Grytviken

    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.    

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    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.

    OCE_4_Martin-van-Lokven_RTD_Elephant-Seals_King-Penguins_St Andrews-Bay_November

    Stromness

    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.

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    Gold Harbour

    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.

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    Salisbury Plain

    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.

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    What Our Customers Think

    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

    Authentic Expedition

    Comfort & Adventure

    Luxury & Fine Dining

    South Georgia Only

    Loli says

    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:

    Wildlife

    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.

    OO_3_Renato-Granieri_RTD_king penguin Salisbury plain South Georgia2

    Weather

    ‘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
    Sailing in Icy Waters

    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.

    CUS_3_Jane-Kelley_PRIV_south-georgia-king-couple

    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.

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    Swoop Says

    South Georgia Cruises: Your Questions Answered

    • How long can I spend in South Georgia?

      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.

    • How much luggage am I allowed?

      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.

    • Can my food requirements be catered?

      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.

    • When is the best time to visit?

      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.

    • What wildlife will i see?

      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.

    Ready to plan your Antarctic adventure?

    • Swoop Antarctica Expert Alex
    • Swoop Antarctica Expert John
    • Swoop Antarctica Expert Loli
    • Swoop Antarctica Expert Sarah

    With over 10 years' experience in Antarctica, we can guide you through the maze of options to choose the perfect voyage.

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