Sensory overload!

Trip Start Jul 05, 2011
Trip End Jul 03, 2012

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Feb 8th and 9th

Emma has now tried every know antiseasickness tablet known to man plus some black magic wrist bands that don't work for shit. There is one final item to try in the doctors arsenal which are some patches and I am pleased to say after putting these on the 8th by the evening of the 9th Emma is all good and well. I am sure my advise on manning up sorted this issue out and not the patches.

We have had 2 very smooth days sailing so far, nothing more than a 4m swell and mostly much smaller. I hardly notice the boat sway anymore at all. The birders have been getting up super early and going bird crazy, I think some of them may well explode when we get to sail past Bird Island in south Georgia.

For clarification we are nuts over penguins and I have reclassified penguins as feathered mammals not birds so we do not have to be grouped with the birders. These people are very nice but quite frankly crazy!

Feb 10th – 13th  South Georgia.

Arrived at south Georgia in the pissing rain! Still not to worry we are going to go on a zodiac cruise around Right Whale bay. We are surrounded by 1,000s of king penguins and fur seals all whom are making an absolute ruckus! Even though it grey and over cast it is amazing. We manage a brief landing, more for zodiac exit and entry practice but I have set foot on South Georgia and not that many other people in the world have. It is by far the most remote place I have been too. Once we get back in the zodiac we cruise around the bay a bit more when all of a sudden we are surrounded by penguins circling the zodiac. They stay around for circling for al least 15 minutes, they are making penguin noises, we are all hooting and screaming with pleasure and laughter it is an mind blowing introduction to South Georgia. I am sure the penguins, who we all know are cunning and devious, are planning our demise so it is time to head back to the ship!

We head back to the boat for dinner exhilarated and elated but tragedy strikes Emma’s home made waterproof case has let her down and her camera has failed! This is NOT good. I nobly offer to share my camera with her for the rest of the trip.

Feb 11th

We start the day of at Salisbury Plain. The rain from yesterday has all gone and we are left with a rainbow. We are here to see another king penguin colony, the second largest in south Georgia. The vista is something out of a fairy tail; snow topped towering mountains with glaciers running down to the penguin colony on one side and wild green tussock where the penguins intermingle with fur seal on the other. The rainbow I mentioned earlier really does end in a pot of gold - the bright yellow reflecting from over 200,000 king penguins collars.

The penguins are curious and if you sit down on the ground they come right up to you. They are elegant, proud and magnificent and utterly photogenic – it seems impossible to take a bad picture of a king penguin.

Emmas camera has made a miraculous recovery from the dead!

After this the ship moves round to Prion Island a spot to see nesting Albatrosses. Here we are warned about the fur seals, they can be a bit aggressive. Emma loves the fur seals…"oh they are so cute”…NO NO NO they are evil! One of them tries to attack everyone who goes past it and a single snarling baby holds up all of us! To be honest - here the seals have the right of way and it so happened that a baby one (one of the "cute” ones) walked up in front of us on the path and we had to wait for it to move in it own time. The scenery here matched this mornings but now there is not a cloud in the sky. AWESOME!!!!

We then cruised along the North coast of South Georgia to Hercules bay passing countless glaciers and pristine mountains.

Once in Hercules bay we had a zodiac cruise around to see a Macaroni Penguin colony, not enough excitement!!?? Well add to that elephant seals, great petrels, wandering albatrosses flying over head and the obligatory fur seals everywhere and I am in total awe of this place.

Never have I had a day like this in my life, this day alone in South Georgia has made the entire trip down here worth it for me.

Sorry South New Zealand, move over into second place we have a new champion!

Feb 12th

Whistle cove, it is raining so we decide to play it safe and take the waterproof camera with us only this morning. Another king penguin colony J. Here we see more fur seals and reindeer which were introduced by the whalers in the past. We may be some of the last people to see these as it has been decided to remove them and they were not endemic.

After Whistle cove we travel past 2 abandoned whaling stations – Leith and Stromness. It is good to see that these have been taken over by penguins and seals once again.

In the afternoon we had a short trek from Myviken to Grytviken across a pass. A few hours walking here was equally magnificent, with the obligatory mountains, glaciers and sea views. This time it was the fauna nutters turn to go crazy looking at some grass or some plant!

At Grytviken we visited Shackleton’s grave and that of Frank Wild, Shackleton’s right hand man. We encountered more elephant seals – they smell BAD! A brief visit to the excellent museum and quick opportunity to send a post card from the southern most post office.

After all this we made it back to the boat for 9pm where there was a party and BBQ on the boat with some of the guys who live in Grytviken, in fact the entire population of Grytviken where invited…all 26 of them!!

Feb 13th

Last day at South Georgia, it’s a stunning sunny day and we are to visit Gold Harbour, another king penguin colony. The back drop and scenery are as beautiful here as in Salisbury Plain, here we can even hear the creaking of the glaciers. To see us off there are also Gentoo penguins, fur seals and elephant seal. We spend a few hours here before the wind starts to pick up and we have to make a sharp exit back to the ship.

Before we leave we pass up and down Drygalski Fjord, the wind has now picked up the point we can hardly stand in it with is ominous for the up coming 3 day trip to Antarctica. The raw beauty can be felt in weather like this and it is thrilling. We see our 1st 2 ice bergs and then it is time to lock down the hatches and sail for Antarctica.

For the next there days the Ortilous battered against winds and 6-8 meter swells, leaving even the most hardy a little seasick. Unfortunately this was not Emmas finest hour as she suffered terribly from seasickness. We tried every know medicine in the book (again) to no real avail. Hopefully the peninsular will make this bit of it worthwhile. Fingers crossed for clear skies and no winds…
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