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Wonders of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

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

WorldBlue  Highlights

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

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

Map with the described wonders

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WorldViolet Top 15 wonders of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

Geological wonders

Mount Belinda

South Sandwich Islands

One of the few active volcanoes under the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom. This volcano rises 1,370 m above sea level. The summit of the volcano rises from a glacier that covers almost the 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. MODIS imagery around 2004 indicated that it is possible that in the crater of the volcano is a persistent lava lake. Most likely now it does not exist as the crater is covered with a thick layer of snow.

Mount Belinda eruption in September 2005, MODIS false color image
Mount Asphyxia (Mount Curry)

South Sandwich Islands

A volcano that rises 550 m tall. Often emits suffocating fumes, which, together with the guano of some 2 million chinstrap penguins (Pygoscelis antarctica) creates an unbearable stench.

Mount Michael

South Sandwich Islands

An active volcano on this small, glacier-covered island. Its 0.7 km wide crater contains one of the few active lava lakes in the world. The size of the lava lake fluctuates between 90 – 215 m. The volcano is 990 m tall and, as far as it is known, none has climbed the mountain.

Mount Michael in October 2015
Hercules Bay waterfall

South Georgia Group

Several hundred meters high waterfall with several cascades that is fed by ice and snow. Lower cascade falls in the beach among penguins.

Shackleton’s Waterfall

South Georgia Group

Magnificent waterfall with numerous cascades.

Breakbones Plateau

South Sandwich Islands

A geothermal field with numerous small fumaroles and vegetation that uses the warmth to survive in the harsh Antarctic climate.

Godthul Waterfall

South Georgia Group

Approximately 30 m tall waterfall.

Biological wonders

Bird Island

South Georgia Group

One of the richest wildlife sites in the world. The size of this island is just 400 ha but here live 50,000 pairs of penguins, 14,000 pairs of albatrosses, 700,000 petrels, 65,000 breeding pairs of Antarctic fur seals.

Salisbury Plain penguin colony

South Georgia Group

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 Group

One of the largest king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) colonies in the world. Here are some 150,000 pairs of penguins but there are also reports of about 50,000 pairs. The 3 km long beach is inhabited by fur and elephant seals and many species of sea birds as well.

King penguins at St. Andrews Bay
Penguin colony on Zavodovski Island

South Sandwich Islands

The largest colony of chinstrap penguins (Pygoscelis antarctica) in the world and one of the largest colonies of penguins worldwide – with 2 million birds.

Undine Bay fur seal colony

South Georgia Group

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.

Architecture wonders

South Georgia Museum

South Georgia Group

Located in Manager’s Villa, built in 1916. Museum established in 1992 and tells about the nature and history of South Georgia.

Grytviken Church (Whalers Church)

South Georgia Group

A wooden church in Neo-Gothic style, built in 1913. Unique Sub-antarctic church.

Grytviken Church in South Georgia, side view

South Georgia Group

Abandoned whaling station – an 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 in South Georgia

WorldYellow Recommended books

Antarctic Oasis: Under the Spell of South Georgia

An account of one couple’s life on a remote island beyond the Polar Front, a tale to rival the exploits of the great nineteenth-century explorers.

Antarctica Cruising Guide: Includes Antarctic Peninsula, Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Ross Sea

Now packed with even more breathtaking color photographs, wildlife descriptions, and detailed area maps, this updated edition to a bestselling Antarctica travel guide includes fascinating, full accounts of interesting places, spectacular landscapes, and local plants and wildlife—from penguins and other birds to whales, seals, and myriad mammals. A definitive field guide to Antarctica, this book caters to South Pole visitors traveling by luxury liner, adventure cruise, or private boat.

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