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

About Drygalski Fjord

Plancius Ship

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 a few kilometres 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 14km-long fjord is named for Eric con 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.

Explore Drygalski Fjord with Swoop

Wildlife at Drygalski Fjord

Drygalski Fjord

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 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). 

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