Odyssey

The People's Friend Special - - TRAVEL -

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

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