National Geographic Explorer
The day started and ended with gorgeous skies, and throughout the day we experienced one of those rare and magical confluences in South Georgia of sunny weather and calm seas. We had spent the night at anchor in the Bay of Isles and awoke early for a very short reposition to Prion Island for an opportunity to view nesting wandering albatrosses. These birds did not disappoint, and each guest had a great opportunity to see the magnificent creatures on their nests or soaring overhead with the stunning backdrop of Lucas and Grace Glaciers on the other side of the bay. Some even had the privilege of watching one of the wandering albatrosses lumber down the grass ”runway” with their huge feet paddling away, while nearly 11 feet of wingspan flapped majestically. After leaving the Bay of Isles, we continued southeast along the coast to Fortuna Bay to drop off our intrepid hikers for the Shackleton Walk. Under warm sunshine and unbeatable conditions, they had a tremendous experience following in the footsteps of the last portion of Ernest Shackleton’s epic winter crossing of South Georgia. In the meantime, National Geographic Explorer continued sailing to the abandoned whaling station at Stromness. We had an extraordinary encounter with a southern right whale, which lazily crossed our path and swam directly under the bow for close-up views of its callosities, the rough, calcified skin patches located on top of its head. The whale was almost close enough for us to examine the lice living on those callosities! Upon arriving at Stromness, we quickly disembarked and came ashore on the beach where piles of fur seal pups frolicked in the shallows and on the gravel shoreline. From there we hiked up to Shackleton’s waterfall and took a few photos before turning back to contemplate this fabulous day and the heroic efforts of Tom Crean, Frank Worsley and Ernest Shackleton over 100 years ago. We’ve had a perfect two days in South Georgia, but unfortunately, our voyage ends here as we will now turn back towards Stanley in the Falkland Islands.