Unknown to most, the Antarctic region stretches wider than its mainland and actually includes a number of island chains dotted throughout the Southern Ocean. With the help of Aurora Expeditions, you don't only get to visit the icy continent, but get to explore remote and untamed locations such as South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, too.
The British overseas territory of South Gerogia is located in the southern Atlantic Ocean, east of the South American coast and north of Antarctica. Thanks to its position, there are parts of the island chain not covered with snow or ice – providing visitors the chance to see unique flora and fauna. If you are not convinced about South Georgia, take a look below at our top five reasons to visit this remote island!
Despite its isolation, South Georgia and its associated islands have a history to rival most countries. First spotted in 1675, South Georgia was mostly used by whalers and sealers as a site to process their catch. As this industry came to a close, the focus switched to science with Argentina setting up a meteorological office and the United Kingdom using the islands as a base for exploration.
For those interested in Antarctic history, this is where it gets interesting. Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition encountered difficulties in South Georgia in 1916 and Shackleton himself had to abandon his vessel in a smaller boat to find help on the mainland. Amazingly, Shackleton and two others covered 35 km of tough mountainous terrain and Antarctic weather to reach assistance. Sadly, on a following trip in 1922, Ernest Shackleton died in South Georgia and was buried in a Grytviken cemetery.
Revisit history with Aurora Expeditions on the South Georgia & Antarctic Odyssey expedition.
With only 30 human residents, the population of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands is comprised mostly of wildlife. It is important to note that the temperatures are slightly warmer than in Antarctica (even if you don't feel it!), meaning the shores and coastline are the perfect breeding ground for many species. This includes fur seals, penguins, elephant seals and nesting albatross.
We time our adventures in South Georgia for the peak of the breeding cycle, so you have the chance to see all manner of species interacting. You may spot penguins negotiating the sleeping seals or see the penguin chicks beginning to lose their non-waterproof feathers, so remember to bring your camera!
Of course, off the shore, there is also the chance to catch humpback and minke whales enjoying the rich waters of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.
3. Small Size
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands occupy just 3,903 km2 – they are one of the smallest island groups in the world. In fact, the chain is 1,983 times smaller than Australia, which highlights just how isolated life is for those who brave these conditions. However, this is all part of the charm of South Georgia, offering a perspective on life that few people have ever seen.
In fact, you are so far away from civilization that it's possible to take a moment to think about the fragile nature of society as a whole. In the middle of the ocean, you realise just how small you really are.
4. Taking up a bigger challenge
It's fair to say that going to Antarctica is an achievement in itself – something to brag to your friends and family back home. As this could be your only chance to see this part of the world, why not take up as many challenges as possible?
South Georgia might appear far off the map, but as part of a trip with Aurora Expeditions, it's simply part of the journey. On the way to the Antarctic Peninsula, or on the way back, we take a detour via Elephant Island and Scotia Sea before heading for around four days on South Georgia. During your Antarctic journey, you get to see this icy paradise as well as all the islands that form this incredible region.
5. South Georgia Alpine Crossing
As mentioned above, South Georgia was the site of the great 1916 crossing by Ernest Shackleton and other explorers. Taking inspiration from this event, experienced hiker or climbers can attempt to repeat this adventure with Aurora Expeditions. The three-day trek covers some of the world's most rugged and remote terrain, and for those who complete it, the reward is superb views, snow-capped mountains and great adrenaline rushes.
While the environment can be dangerous, our well-trained and experienced guides adhere to strict safety procedures. Also, bookings are limited so express your interest as soon as possible to avoid missing out.
To learn more about South Georgia and what it offers visitors, reach out to the team at Aurora Expeditions today.