The Jewel of the South Atlantic
20.03.2007 - 21.03.2007 4 °C
We arrived late in the evening and the weather closed in and we were soon enveloped in a blanket of Fog. We could hear and smell the land, however, it was too dangerous for us to Anchor up... so we sailed on that night.
We could hear the penguins and the seals but couldn't see anything... it was a kind of eerie place and to start with I wasn't sure of what to expect of the island group!
It's literally miles from anywhere... I remember that during the Falklands war... an SAS team landed in South Georgia and that there were no lives lost as a result, however, other than that.... Neither of us were too sure what to expect!
We'd pulled into Rosita Harbour at the Northwest point of the islands and had a little Zodiac tour of the area. We were joined by what seemed like hundreds of Sea Lions and they played around in the water as we sailed into the Harbour. We also managed to see Petrels, some King Penguins and Albatross flying around us as we plodded around in Sloopy....The Boat as opposed to one of the Zodiacs on board
It was nice as to celebrate dry land and hopefully a landing on the Islands tomorrow... we all got a little bit drunk It was a nice evening.
By Morning we'd already moved to Salisbury plains, which was where we to land firstly in South Georgia.... What a place!
150,000 King Penguins !!!
The main colony was further along the beach than where we landed, however, we were able to hang about with those on the pebble beach and just admire the birds as the fought, argued, flirted, and basically just enjoyed themselves on the beach.
They're beautiful Birds and up close (which they were all to happy to come over and try to eat your Wellington boot or your jacket) their colours really are magical. Black and White with a crown of Yellow the Males and females were virtually identical, however, they all just waddled around through us as we sat on the beach. Magical !
We then were rounded up by Tully (Our Naturalist) and walked over the throng that was the main bulk of the colony.
How noisy, smelly, muddy, shitty (Penguin poop everywhere) a place it is..... and yet Beautiful at the same time. Here there were still some chicks and they were getting fed by the adults while the obligatory Skua's hung overhead waiting for any opportunity to grab a bite to eat (Penguin Chick food or indeed Penguin Chick given half a chance!)
There were also the Obligatory Sea Lions inter dispersed along the beach and at the fringes of the colony, however, it definitely was a view that very, very few people in the world have seen and combined with it being our first landing on South Georgia, had already cemented the place as one of our favourites (all in one day and it was only lunch time!)
Ok.... off to Prion Island to go and see some Giant Wandering Albatross. Where the heck are we I thought !!! This place is magical!
A few years earlier in New Zealand, Steph and I had gone to a part of the South Island specifically to see Wanderers, however, all we got to see was a single ball of fluff (a chick) and no adults.... so we were both excited at being able to see the birds with the largest wingspan in the world up close and personal!
We landed on the Island and then had to run (literally at points) the gauntlet of mother and baby Seals that were inter dispersed in the Grassy knolls that ran along side the path up to the Albatross rookery.
Wow.... there were about 20 Wanderers on the top of the bluff.... there were chicks, courting Adults and Juveniles all on land, however, there were also about 10 full grown adults gliding above our heads on the updrafts from the cliffs at the far side of the colony.
Some of the Adults began to display and to our delight they began to perform the Albatross Courtship dance right in front of us.... Amazing !
These birds mate for life are now on the endangered list and to give you an idea of their size.... think of a bird that's the size of a sheep when stood up with the wingspan of a car when their flying !
Gorgeous birds and since the sun was setting at the time it was a beautiful location to witness one of the, sadly, rarer love dances in the world.
Every now and again I need to pinch myself (and Steph) to realise what exactly we're witnessing in this place and it's still day 1!!!!