Nov 13, 2018 - National Geographic Orion
There are few experiences that can compare to your first day in South Georgia. It really doesn’t matter what landing you make on that initial visit – it WILL be incredible. Sometimes, it’s almost better to pace yourself and not try for one of the particularly big king penguin colonies on day one.
I think we did it just right.
Right Whale Bay on the northeast corner of the island, offers not only an introduction to the imposing topography of South Georgia but has a little bit of everything as it pertains to wildlife.
Though the landing site is only 200 meters from a king penguin colony numbering over 20,000 breeding pairs, one must first pass by hundreds - literally hundreds - of male fur seals protecting their beach-front property. Interspersed are dozens upon dozens of drowsy elephant seals, and between them are king penguins coming and going from the colony. Not to mention giant petrels, skuas, snowy sheathbills, and leopard seals in the water.
And that was just the morning.
Our first afternoon was dedicated to the avian ambassadors of South Georgia, the albatross. The steep, grassy amphitheater walls of Elsehul have been the birthplace of many hundreds of thousands of grey-headed, black-browed and light-mantled sooty albatrosses over the millennia, and today we had the chance to approach them from both land and sea. Some groups took to the hills to get an eye level view of grey-headed albatross birds in their nests. The rest took to the sea with craned necks as hundreds of albatrosses came to and from their cliffside perches overhead. Even a colony of macaroni penguins made the cut on our first day.
It was only fitting that the end of an overwhelming introduction to South Georgia came with an overwhelming sunset. As the clouds streaked across the sky with upper atmosphere winds so too did the shifting light, opening up one final beam as we tucked into Rosita Harbor for a quiet night at anchor.
Now it’s time to rest up for the spectacle ahead!
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