South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Overview
South Georgia, not to be confused with the Eastern European state of Georgia, sits to the south of the Falkland Islands in the Atlantic, and is best known for its natural beauty. Often summarized as an alpine range sticking straight out of the ocean, it’s home to snowcapped peaks, plunging glaciers and seals, albatrosses and penguins scouting the shores.
Almost all tourists arrive by boat as part of a trip to the Antarctic (flying to the islands is near impossible), a journey that will probably have even the hardiest of sea dogs reaching for the sick bag. When you arrive, huge penguins dominate the bays, while the fortunate might spot whales cutting through the icy waters amongst the bergs and oversized elephant seals.
Strict environmental protocols are in place on the islands, including legislation that means to sleep on land comes with a massive daily price tag, and taking food on is strictly prohibited. To get round this, most visitors slumber on their boats, and enjoy hiking the various islands and checking out the wildlife during the day.
Surrounded by pack ice for the entire winter, the Sandwich Islands are similarly inaccessible, and welcome perhaps two cruise ships annually. Nobody lives here, aside from in excess of a million penguins, which are the main tourist draw.
Both groups of islands are British owned, and home to dramatic, towering cliffs, glowing blue icebergs forming abstract shapes against the horizon (a photographer’s haven) and even the occasional tree-coated slope draped in mist, pulling intrepid travelers into the empty cores.
While you’ll certainly not be alone on the islands – unless, that is, you turn up as part of a research trip – the barren, frozen yet life-filled islands of the South Atlantic are so different and so teeming with incredible photo opportunities that, for all the seasickness and nights spent swaying amongst the icebergs, they’re utterly unforgettable.