South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

Main attractions

South Georgia Island
South Georgia Island / Michael Clarke, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

These islands are British overseas territory under the jurisdiction of United Kingdom.

South Sandwich islands and especially - South Georgia - are incredibly spectacular islands with unsurpassed, harsh beauty of rugged mountains rising directly from the blue ocean. The islands are a home to millions of birds and seals - these sub-antarctic islands have the highest density of birds and mammals in the world.


Volcanoes and geothermal features

Mount Belinda with sublacial river, South Sandwich Islands
Mount Belinda with sublacial river, South Sandwich Islands / NASA ASTER, Wikimedia Commons / public domain
  • Breakbones Plateau - South Sandwich Islands, Candlemas Island. A geothermal field with numerous small fumaroles and vegetation which uses the warmth to survive in the harsh antarctic climate.
  • Mount Asphyxia (Mount Curry) - South Sandwich Islands, Zavodovski Island. Volcano which rises 550 m tall. Often emits suffocating fumes, what together with penguin guano creates an unbearable stench.
  • Mount Belinda - South Sandwich Islands, Montagu Island. One of the few active volcanos under the jurisdiction of United Kingdom. This volcano rises 1,370 m above the sea level. Summit of volcano rises from glacier, which covers almost whole island. The eruption in 2002 - 2009 created a 90 m wide, subglacial river from the molten ice, which reached the sea, creating a steam plume.
  • Mount Michael - South Sandwich Islands, Saunders Island. An active volcano on this small, glacier-covered island. Its 0.7 km wide crater in 2002 - 2006, and, possibly, up to this day contains one of the few active lava lakes in the world.


There are numerous waterfalls in South Georgia and the ones listed below might be not the most impressive ones.

  • Godthul Waterfall - South Georgia, at Godthul bay. Approximately 30 m tall waterfall.
  • Hercules Bay waterfall - South Georgia. Several hundred metres high, ice and snow fed waterfall withy several cascades. Lower cascade falls in the beach among penguins.
  • Shackleton's Waterfall - South Georgia, near Stromness. Magnificent waterfall with numerous cascades.
King penguins at St Andrews Bay, South Georgia
King penguins at St. Andrews Bay / sheilapic76, Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Animal colonies

  • Bird Island - at South Georgia. One of the richest wildlife sites in the world. Area of island is just 400 ha but here live some 50,000 pairs of penguins, 14,000 pairs of albatrosses, 700,000 petrels, 65,000 breeding pairs of Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella).
  • Penguin colony on Zavodovski Island - South Sandwich Islands, Zavodovski Island. The largest colony of chinstrap penguins (Pygoscelis antarctica) in the world and one of the largest colonies of penguins worldwide - with 2 million birds.
  • Salisbury Plain penguin colony - South Georgia. One of the largest king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) colonies in the world, with more than 100,000 pairs. Contains also thousands of elephant seals and fur seals.
  • St. Andrews Bay penguin colony - South Georgia. Possibly the largest king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) colony in the world, with some 150,000 pairs (there are also reports about 50,000 pairs). The 3 km long beach is inhabited by fur and elephant seals and many species of sea birds.
  • Undine Bay fur seal colony - western South Georgia. The largest single colony of Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella) with some 90 000 pairs. There live several millions of Antarctic fur seals in the north-west of South Georgia, thus providing the highest mass of mammals per area in the world.

Man made landmarks

Grytviken, South Georgia
Grytviken / Aah-Yeah, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
  • Grytviken - South Georgia. Abandoned whaling station - unusual monument of industrial architecture. Established in 1904 (the first in South Georgia), abandoned since the 1960s. There are more such abandoned whaling stations nearby - Husvik, Stromness, Leith Harbour and others.
  • Grytviken Church - South Georgia. A wooden church in Neo-Gothic style, built in 1913. Unique Sub-antarctic church.
  • South Georgia Museum - South Georgia, Grytviken. Located in Manager's Villa, built in 1916. Museum established in 1992 and tells about the nature and history of South Georgia.

List of described attractions


South Georgia Group
ArrowGrytviken Church (Whalers Church)Church
South Sandwich Islands

Map of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

Featured: Grytviken Church (Whalers Church)

Grytviken Church, South Georgia
Grytviken Church, South Georgia / Liam Quinn, Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0.

South Georgia might be one of the most beautiful places in the world, but the climate and life in this sub-antarctic island is harsh. In one cosy cove of this island, among the snow covered mountains is found a wonder, a small piece from the other side of the globe - Northern Europe. This is the white, wooden Grytviken Church.

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