Nov 12, 2017 - National Geographic Explorer
Our first glimpse of South Georgia came through the fog early this morning. Before breakfast, we passed the Willis Islands, and the captain brought us close enough to Main Island to catch a glimpse of the bird life that awaited us further on.
By 9am we were disembarking for our zodiac cruises in Elsehul (Norwegian for Else Cove). Despite growing swell and heavy rain, we took full advantage of our first experience of South Georgia. Grey-headed albatross, black-browed albatross, and light-mantled albatross all nested in the steep headlands around us. Macaroni penguins marched up to their nesting colony while groups of king and Gentoo penguins walked on the beaches. Numerous other seabirds cruised the sky, and we saw both Antarctic fur seals and elephant seals on shore. Some cups of hot chocolate kept us going until lunch time when we had a chance to dry off.
By afternoon we were ready for another outing, this time to Right Whale Bay. Despite a persistent rain and frequent gusts, we had almost 90 people sign up for a long hike! We navigated our way across the beach, careful to avoid any cranky fur seals, and out to the glacial plain where many king penguins go to court and moult (not necessarily in that order). After an hour or two of exploring, we ended our day at the king penguin colony—complete with hundreds of very wet, very beautiful chicks. The sounds of South Georgia rounded out the experience with squeaking elephant seal pups, roaring fur seals, and many a penguin croak.
As we boarded the ship to warm up and dry out, expedition leader Doug Gaultieri came of the PA system with new of southern right whales, right in Right Whale Bay. Many of us gathered on the bridge to see two of these amazing animals cruising nearby and even showing their flukes before diving. It was a wonderful way to end the day.