Shackleton Walk, Stromness & Prion Island

Mar 01, 2019 - National Geographic Explorer


It was another extraordinary day in South Georgia, one during which the desires of people of all fitness levels were met and expectations exceeded! Energetic early risers (nearly half of the guests) disembarked in Fortuna Bay to tackle the famous last section of Ernest Shackleton, Frank Worsley, and Tom Crean’s heroic 36-hour slog across the formerly unmapped peaks of South Georgia’s interior. Unlike their efforts, ours were fueled by delicious food from our galley and equipped with performance fabrics and safety gear in the event of mishaps.

Over the 6 kilometers, we experienced all four seasons—sometimes within five minutes. As we crossed the broad pass toward Stromness Valley, the winds howled and we sunk to our shins in snow but as we reached the point where we could see the valley floor below and hear our ship’s horn, the clouds cleared. We could see the clear, glorious colors of tussock grass slopes, snow-covered peaks, and blue waters of the bay below. We shared two minutes of silence there, thinking perhaps of the hardships these three explorers faced and conquered before descending steep, slippery, snow-covered slopes.

We returned, triumphant, to the shoreline at Stromness. The ship was anchored nearby and once aboard, we savored hot showers and yet another delicious meal. The afternoon gave all of us the opportunity to see multiple, occupied wandering albatross nests at Prion Island. This vulnerable species has a wingspan of up to 11 feet, but it’s always difficult to estimate their size until we see them on the ground and close up. This was a very special opportunity to see these magnificent creatures close enough to get a real feel for their enormous size. Our day wrapped up spectacularly with a wonderful Filipino dinner and entertainment from our house band, The Spice Boys, with special opening act: the very talented naturalist and troubadour Doug Gualtieri.

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About the Author

Sheri Bluestein

Expedition Leader

Sheri has over 12 years of experience sharing the wonders of Alaska as a hiking guide, expedition leader, cultural interpreter, and naturalist. For 10 of those years, she made her home on the Kenai Peninsula where she spent her free time hiking, growing enormous vegetables, and successfully avoiding bears and moose on her way to the outhouse at night. 

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