It doesn’t pay to get too absorbed in sightseeing, as the fur seals lying idly on the rocks get territorial if you approach too close and have been known to nip unwary visitors.
After a brief stop to view nesting albatrosses, we arrived at Grytviken, first to view Ernest Shackleton’s grave, then to explore the old whaling station, where the lovely Norwegian church overlooks a cleaned-up site.
The weather here can get severe and many old buildings were previously in a poor state, shedding metal sheets and asbestos, whilst leaking oil tanks threatened the environment. After a clean-up things are much better.
Our itinerary tried to fit in two shore landings each day, apart from days at
Deirdre Mitchell works at the whaling station museum in Grytviken. After graduating from St Andrews University in Scottish History, she undertook postgraduate museum and gallery studies.
“I applied to the South Georgia Heritage Trust in Dundee and was lucky to get the job for the summer, which down here is from October to April. “I had no idea what to expect, apart from knowing that my job was to conserve and curate exhibits behind the scenes, but it was time for an adventure far from home and this has exceeded my expectations. How many get a chance to live and work in a place like this so far away from everyday life? There are only two Scots, me and Matthew, the boating officer, but around twenty people were living here when I arrived. The British Antarctic survey has a base just outside the old station, I had my birthday there enjoying a drink in a sauna overlooking penguins in the bay.”
Not many people can enjoy such a birthday celebration!
Neil McAllister sets sail for the last unspoiled continent and a world of new experiences.
sea, but these are weather dependent. In some places, as the wind raised waves to make landing impossible, hour-long zodiac cruises were offered to view the wildlife below spectacular snow-capped mountains and glaciers reaching the sea.
Many sites have reminders of pioneering explorers. Earlier, we had visited an Argentine base on Laurie Island, where we had seen the remains of a 1904 stone hut.
On Paulet Island we saw stony remains of another shelter built by an earlier Swedish expedition, whose boat was crushed in winter ice.
On Paulet, Adelie penguins make the most of the snow-free island, warmed from below by volcanic