After visiting king penguin colonies at Salisbury Plain this morning, A&K Le Boreal Antarctica Ship cruised eastward and arrived at Fortuna Bay below Konig Glacier this afternoon. König Glacier (54°10?S 36°48?W) is a glacier, 3 nautical miles (6 km) long and 1.5 nautical miles (3 km) wide, flowing in a northerly direction from the north side of Neumayer Glacier to the head of Fortuna Bay, South Georgia. It was first surveyed in 1928–29 by a German expedition under Kohl-Larsen, who named it for Austrian mountaineer Felix König, who took part in the Second German Antarctic Expedition, 1911–12, under Wilhelm Filchner.
With glaciers covering 60% of the island and peaks towering 2900m above sea level, South Georgia is undoubtedly the most spectacular and mountainous of all islands in the Sub Antarctic. Lying at 54o South, crescent-shaped South Georgia is 170km long and up to 40km wide. First sighted in 1675 by English merchant Anthony de la Roche, it was not until 1775 that Captain James Cook made the first landing, claiming British sovereignty.
In 1904, Grytviken, the first of six whaling stations, was established on the north east coast of South Georgia by a Norwegian run company. Shore-based whaling ceased at South Georgia in 1965, by which time over 175,000 whales had been slaughtered. Shackleton’s miraculous 800 mile journey in the tiny lifeboat, the James Caird from Elephant Island, ended at King Haakon Bay on the southern coast of South Georgia. Shackleton then led Frank Worsley and Tom Crean on the first crossing of South Georgia on foot, concluding their epic journey at the whaling station in Stromness, where Shackleton raised help to rescue the remainder of his Endurance crew from Elephant Island. Shackleton is buried in the whaler’s cemetery at Grytviken, having died of a heart attack aboard his vessel Quest on January 5, 1922.
South Georgia’s wildlife is abundant and varied. Populations of southern elephant seal and Antarctic fur seal have bounced back from the brink of extinction since the early sealing days. Several hundred thousand king penguins as well as majestic Wandering and Light Mantled Albatross call these rugged shores home.
Itinerary – South Georgia Day 1
Read Antarctic Expedition for other destinations of the trip.