First Landing in South Georgia

The Falkland Islands were wonderful (Jan. 2-4, 2012), and now we’ve traversed over 800 miles of open ocean to reach remote, wild, stunning South Georgia Island. We’ll make our first landing this morning at famous Salisbury Plain on the island’s northeast coast. If you’ve seen photos of tens of thousands of King Penguins stretching up a hillside, they were taken here.

Salisbury is also a huge fur seal and elephant seal colony, and we all have to carry walking sticks or broom handles to keep any territorial fur seals at whisker-tickling distance. They do bite but if you stand your ground and rustle their sensitive whiskers with your stick they’ll back off. Many young fur seals are in the water all around our ship, looking up and twirling playfully in the clear blue. King penguins are visible by the thousands on the beach through binoculars and also swim alongside us, bathing with their white bellies skyward or just porpoising along.

There’s a sense of jollity on the ship as passengers take a leisurely breakfast down the hall. It’s drizzling and there’s not enough light for photography so although half the ship got up for 4:30 a.m. breakfast, our 5:30 landing has been postponed to 7:00. For most of us there’s no sense in going back to bed so we might as well enjoy the early morning. I had a cup of espresso about 4:30, from the wonderful automatic espresso machine up in the library. I can hear laughter and clinking cups from down the dining room down the passage.

Soon we’ll gear up for chilly drizzle and hiking in mud, but for now we’re cozy and warm inside the sturdy Ortelius.