Mar 16, 2019 - National Geographic Explorer
After an early breakfast, we began our landing at St Andrews Bay to visit the largest king penguin colony—home to approximately 150,000 pairs—on South Georgia Island. For some reason, king penguins prefer high-energy beaches. That is, beaches with remarkably strong surf. Today we were amazed. We just drove straight in, like we were parking a car at a convenience store! We typically made stern-first landings, with four to six people to catch and hold the boat
As usual, there were a number of hikes offered: a hike to the colony, a photo hike to the colony, a long hike via a glacier face then to the colony, etc. Due to the king penguins’ unique breeding cycle, 14 months from courtship to fledging, it was possible to see bits of the entire cycle in one visit: courtship, eggs, chicks, and molting.
After lunch we found ourselves at Ocean Harbour. In the early part of the 20th century, there was a whaling station here. Now there are just bits and pieces left—an old steam locomotive and the wreck of the Bayard. We had the choice of a long hike up to top of a high ridge; an intermediate hike through the near the old whaling station, a waterfall, graves, and the wreck; a photo hike; or simply wandering on our own.
It was a beautiful afternoon, warm and sunny. On the medium hike, we picked our way around mostly very young fur seal pups and the occasional mom as we headed to the waterfall, the perfect place to sit or lie on the grass. It was a bit difficult to get everyone up and moving again, but there were elephant seals to be gawked at and an intriguing wreck to be admired and photographed. Just another day on beautiful South Georgia Island.
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