Drygalski Fjord: Key information

  • Home to some of South Georgia's most magnificent glaciers
  • Huge numbers of snow petrels and other seabirds nesting on prehistoric cliffs
  • The chance to see Weddell seals in their northernmost breeding location 
  • Latitude 58°50'S, Longitude 36°00'W

Explore Drygalski Fjord with Swoop

About Drygalski Fjord

View from the bow of the Plancius ship as it approaches the Risting Glacier at the head of Dryglaski Fjord

Approaching the Risting Glacier at the head of Dryglaski Fjord

Drygalski Fjord is the southernmost point visited by expedition cruise ships in South Georgia. It lies just short distance from Cape Disappointment, named so by Captain James Cook when he rounded it in 1775 to learn that he was circumnavigating an island and had not after all discovered the fabled southern continent predicted by the ancient Greeks. The 8.5 mile (14km) long fjord is named for Eric von Drygalski, leader of the German Antarctic Expedition of 1901-03.

The fjord sits above an important geological faultline – the mountains on the southern side are basalt and lava from underwater volcanic activity, while the northern shore is part of the ancient edge of the Gondwana continent, and some of the oldest rocks in the Southern Ocean.

Glaciers cover the mountains, with the Risting and Jenkins Glaciers providing a truly majestic scene as they slowly pour into the head of the fjord.

Wildlife at Drygalski Fjord

A Weddell seal on an icy beach at Larsen Harbour in Drygalski Fjord, South Georgia

Larsen Harbour offers a rare opportunity to see Weddell seals in South Georgia

The sheer cliffs that line Drygalksi Fjord offer prime breeding grounds for many seabirds, particularly burrowing petrels. The fjord is one of the most important places for snow petrels, which are found in abundance alongside cape petrels, Wilson's storm petrels and white-chinned petrels, plus imperial cormorants and Antarctic terns.

Near the mouth of the fjord, the 2.5 mile (4km) long inlet of Larsen's Harbour is the most northerly recorded breeding location for Weddell seals. They pup before most cruise ships arrive at the start of the austral summer, but individuals can often be seen throughout the season. Larsen Harbour is also home to a small gentoo penguin colony.

Visitor guidelines for Drygalski Fjord

Most visitors to Drygalski Fjord do so as part of a ship cruise. The fjord acts as a natural channel for strong winds from the Salvesen Mountains in the interior, and it is important to maintain a safe distance from the glacier tongues as they enter the sea, so zodiac cruises here tend to be the exception rather than the norm. Conversely, the sheltered geography of Larsen Harbour offers good opportunities for zodiac cruises to spot Weddell Seals (landings are not carried out here). 

More landing sites in South Georgia

A close up of mass of adult king penguins and their fluffy brown chicks on South Georgia

St Andrews Bay

Even on an island that abounds with incredible wildlife encounters, the vast king penguin colony of St Andrews Bay is truly something special. 

Discover More
A wandering albatross sits on its nest amid the tussac grass on Prion Island, South Georgia

Prion Island

Prion Island is the only place on South Georgia where at certain times of the year you can observe wandering albatrosses on their nests.

Discover More
Glacier view with fur seal at the head of King Haakon Bay, South Georgia

King Haakon Bay

King Haakon Bay was the terminus for Shackleton's epic boat journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia – a visit here is a trip highlight for many polar history enthusiasts.

Discover More
A group of tourists climb a grassy hill up from a beach at Cooper Bay in South Georgia. A zodiac drives to a cruise ship is anchored in the bay.

Cooper Bay

Kings, macaronis, gentoos and chinstraps: Cooper Bay is one of the only places in South Georgia where all four of its penguin species can be spotted. 

Discover More

Ready to plan your South Georgia adventure?



We'll spend some time listening to your aspirations, then discuss the kind of experience that might suit you.



Next we'll discuss the options, shortlist the best trips for you and present you our impartial recommendations.



We'll place a 24 hour hold on your preferred option - without obligation - whilst we talk through the details.

With over 100 years of South Georgia experience between us, we can help you to exactly the right trip for you.