Antarctica Cruise and Travel Guide, South Shetland Islands

South
Shetland Islands
Antarctic Travel

Cruise Antarctica, Adventure Travel With Cool Antarctica
and Ice Tracks

Information:
Antarctic travel basics |
more travel details |
fly to Antarctica |
FAQ’s |
Request
Contact
| clothing |
boots
Regions
Antarctic Peninsula |
South Georgia |
South Shetland Islands |
Falkland Islands

The South Shetland Islands off the Antarctic Peninsula

South Shetland
Islands
not belonging to or administered
by any one nation but currently covered by the Antarctic
Treaty where all territorial claims are suspended.

Location – 960 km (600miles) south
of Tierra del Fuego across the Drakes Passage,
about 160 km (100miles) north of the Antarctic Peninsula
across the Bransfield Strait.

Largest population
center
– King George Island, the unofficial “Capital
of Antarctica” with research stations from 12 different
nations.

Population – Approx. 600
in the summer, 190 in winter on 9 permanently manned bases
and 4 summer only only bases, run by the national Antarctic
programs of various countries. All are on King George Island
other than 50 summer only on other islands.

Highest Point – Livingstone Island 2400m
(7800ft)

Deception Island, Whalers Bay
Deception Island
Greenwich Island
South Shetland Islands
Deception Island, Whalers Bay

A string of islands running parallel to the north
west coast of the Antarctic peninsula.
The South Shetlands
are almost completely ice covered. About 2-3 percent is ice
free, usually along the coast, where all life is found whether
penguins, seals, or the human inhabitants of the various bases.
You can sail to the South Shetland Islands or fly over the Drakes
Passage to meet your cruise ship there, there are options to
fly both ways, sail both ways, or sail one way and fly the other.

The main islands are:

King George Island

The largest of the South Shetland Islands and the least isolated
and least typical place in Antarctica. Why? because twelve different
countries have a base here.
 

The largest of the South Shetland Islands and the least isolated and least typical place in Antarctica. Why? because twelve different countries have a base here.

The island is about
1295 sq km, more than 90% of it being glaciated, so the bases
are squeezed into quite a small area. Argentina, Brazil, Chile,
China, Poland, Russia, South Korea, and Uruguay have year round
bases, while Ecuador, Germany, Peru and the US have summer only
bases.

If you are on a fly-cruise trip to Antarctica, it will be
to the Chilean Presidente Frei station on King George Island
that you will fly and where you will board your cruise ship.

The island is quite low and flat and the coast line is broken
into many bays and fjords. There is a variety of wildlife found
on the island including Antarctic terns, chinstrap and 
Adelie penguins, blue-eyed shags and southern giant petrels.

Elephant Island

A very familiar name to anyone even vaguely versed in Antarctic
history as it is where 22 members of Shackleton’s Trans-Antarctic
expedition were stranded in 1915 after their ship the Endurance
was crushed in Weddell Sea pack ice. They spent 135 days on
the island while Shackleton and a small group of men set off
on a rescue mission to South Georgia in the James Caird, one
of the lifeboats from the by then sunken Endurance. This is
widely regarded as one of, if not the most incredible small
boat journeys ever.

Elephant Island is 60km long and 40km wide, with penguin
rookeries (chinstrap penguins) and some very old moss banks
(over 2000 years old). On the south western side of the island
at Stinker Point, is a place called Wreck Bay, where there is
some wreckage from a ship. In 1998 these remains were recognized
as being probable flotsam from Shackleton’s Endurance. Landings
on Elephant island are not common as it is often difficult to
approach due to sea and weather conditions.

Elephant Island

Deception Island

Another famous location in Antarctica is the collapsed
(but still active) volcanic cone that is Deception Island.

Protected by high cliffs and a narrow entrance (Neptune’s Bellows)
this 12km wide amphitheater is one of the safest natural harbours
in the world. It was first used by sealers as a base for operations
and then later by whalers.

By the 1914-1915 season, thirteen whaling factories had been
built here and many relics from this time can still be seen
abandoned in various places. Deception Island is a very popular
place to stop for tourist ships as you can go “swimming” in
the waters of Pendulum Cove that are heated by ongoing volcanic
activity about a mile below the waters inside the collapsed
caldera. “Swimming” is a relative term as the reality consists
of sitting in the shallows between the too-hot volcanically
heated waters and the too cold icy Antarctic ocean waters. If
it starts to get cold, stir up some of the black volcanic sand
to release some more heat, if it gets too warm, move towards
the cooler open sea. 

In the 1920-1921 season, the water here boiled and stripped
the paint from the hulls of the whaling ships, an eruption in
1969 destroyed the British base which was then abandoned. Deception
Island last erupted as recently as 1991-1992 with more activity
reported in 1994.

The landscape is very strange, more of a moonscape consisting
of dark volcanic sand and rocks, all the more strange for the
penguins that are found here in such large numbers in such an
unusual location.

There are two summer only bases here,
Spain’s Gabriel de Castilla and Argentina’s Decepcion. Hundreds
of thousands of penguins nest on Deception Island.

Livingston Island

The landscape is very strange, more of a moonscape consisting of dark volcanic sand and rocks, all the more strange for the penguins that are found here in such large numbers in such an unusual location.There are two summer only bases here, Spain’s Gabriel de Castilla and Argentina’s Decepcion. Hundreds of thousands of penguins nest on Deception Island.

The Byers Peninsula on western end of Livingston Island’s
is protected as a “SSSI” Site of Special Scientific Interest
under the Antarctic Treaty because it contains the greatest
concentration of 19th-century historical sites in Antarctica.

In the early years of the 19th century Livingston Island
was a major centre for catching seals. Hannah Point, named after
the British sealer “Hannah” (from Liverpool), wrecked in the
South Shetlands on Christmas Day 1820 is one of the most popular
stops in Antarctica. A fantastic place for viewing wildlife
at close quarters, there are large chinstrap and gentoo penguin
rookeries here (with occasional  macaroni penguins), blue-eyed
shags, skuas, Wilson’s storm petrels, southern elephant and
southern fur seals.

The island has the summer only Spanish station, Juan Carlos
Primero, and the Bulgarian base, St Kliment Ohridskiy also summer
only. Livingston Island has the highest point of the South Shetlands
at 2400m (7800ft).

Islands of the South Shetlands
group,
looking towards the Antarctic Peninsula,
picture taken in 2011 from the International Space Station.

Annotated and
illustrated map of Livingston and Greenwich Islands

Full file size – 5.06Mb

Penguin Island

One of many Penguin Islands in various places around Antarctica.
This one was named by the explorer Bransfield in 1820. A small
volcanic island that allows the visitor a (relatively) easy
walk up to the highest point Deacon Peak, 170m (544ft) for some
excellent views of the surrounding seas. A regularly visited
site with chinstrap and Adelie penguins, southern giant petrels,
Antarctic terns, skuas, kelp gulls and fur seals.

Volcanic in origin with probable fumarolic activity reported
in 1820 though erroneously attributed to nearby Bridgeman Island.
The last eruption thought to have been around 1905.

Bridgeman Island

A rarely visited steep sided, nearly circular island volcanic
in origin that rises to 240m. The visible peak is the remnant
of a much larger volcano cone that lies under the sea.

Aitcho Islands

Pronounced as the letters “HO”, they were named after the British
Admiralty’s Hydrographic Office. Gentoo and Chinstrap penguin
colonies, extensive moss and lichen beds. First chartered by
the Discovery Expeditions in 1935.

Greenwich Island

Pronounced as the letters “HO”, they were named after the British Admiralty’s Hydrographic Office. Gentoo and Chinstrap penguin colonies, extensive moss and lichen beds. First chartered by the Discovery Expeditions in 1935.

As early as 1820, Yankee Harbour on the southwest side of
Greenwich Island was a valuable anchorage for sealers (who knew
it as Hospital Cove). Today it remains a common anchorage point
because of its protected position.

Half Moon Island

As its name suggests a crescent shaped island, very small
at about 2 km long. The Argentinean naval base Tenientee Camaraais
occupied in the summer months only.

A possible landing
place with a sizable rookery of chinstrap penguins as well as
nesting Antarctic terns and kelp gulls. Whales may be seen off
shore against a stunning back drop of surrounding mountains.

Right – Half Moon
Island seen from Livingstone Island with Greenwich Island
behind.

Below – A ships visit to Half Moon
Island with the small summer base on shore.

Half moon island Island

Why Visit the South Shetland
Islands?

One or more places on the South Shetlands will almost certainly
be on the itinerary of every Antarctic Peninsula cruise due
to the ease of access and variety of interesting places to visit.
They are a fascinating place to go and give a great feeling
of a variety of aspects of Antarctica.

Make sure you
take your swimming things if you visit Deception Island, you’re
bound to regret not having swum in the Antarctic Ocean if you
don’t. Deception Island is the most comfortable place to swim
in Antarctica – far more preferable than jumping into any other
bit of the Antarctic Ocean that pretty much hovers around freezing
point all year round (been there, done that, didn’t enjoy it
– something to tell people about though).

One or more places on the South Shetlands will almost certainly be on the itinerary of every Antarctic Peninsula cruise due to the ease of access and variety of interesting places to visit. They are a fascinating place to go and give a great feeling of a variety of aspects of Antarctica.Make sure you take your swimming things if you visit Deception Island, you’re bound to regret not having swum in the Antarctic Ocean if you don’t. Deception Island is the most comfortable place to swim in Antarctica – far more preferable than jumping into any other bit of the Antarctic Ocean that pretty much hovers around freezing point all year round (been there, done that, didn’t enjoy it – something to tell people about though).

There are a whole variety of places of interest in a small
area, scenery in the form of mountains, glaciers, icebergs,
icecaps and the lunar landscapes of Deception Island. There
is history aplenty which is itself outdone by the abundance
of wildlife and there are many opportunities for getting off
the ship to stroll casually or attempt something a little more
challenging.

Verdict

A Must Visit Place. The South Shetland Islands
are “proper” Antarctica, and have a wide variety of Antarctic
sights and experiences in good measure.

Antarctic Peninsula – Sample
Cruises – 2022 – 2023

Trip
Departure Dates
Highlights
Ship /
Pax
Prices USD*
Days
Departure port

Antarctic Peninsula Expedition
31 Jan, ’22 / 3
Feb, ’22 / 31 Oct, ’22 / 9 Nov, ’22 / 19 Nov, ’22 / 4 Dec, ’22 / 7 Dec,
’22 / 13 Dec, ’22 / 14 Dec, ’22 / 27 Dec, ’22 / 28 Dec, ’22 / 29 Dec,
’22 / 8 Jan, ’23 / 14 Jan, ’23 / 11 Jan, ’23 / 18 Jan, ’23 / 21 Jan,
’23 / 27
Jan, ’23 / 31 Jan, ’23 / 1 Feb, ’23 / 5 Feb, ’23 / 11 Feb, ’23 / 5 Mar,
’23 / 6 Mar, ’23
South Shetlands, Antarctic
Peninsula, Penguin Rookeries, Lemaire Channel.

Various
$6,895 –
$34,716
9-12
Ushuaia,
Argentina
– disembark – same

Antarctica Basecamp
25 Jan, ’22 / 24
Feb, ’22 / 8 Mar, ’22 / ’22 Nov, ’22 / 25 Nov, ’22 / 10 Dec, ’22 /
’22 Dec, ’22 / ’23 Dec, ’22 / 3 Jan, ’23 / 20 Feb, ’23 / 8 Mar, ’23
Antarctic Peninsula
Basecamp cruise offers hiking, snowshoeing, kayaking,
mountaineering, and camping out under the Southern Polar skies.
Expedition Ships

m/v Hondius, Ortelius or  Plancius
 –

174, 108, 116

$5,460 –
$16,800

11 or 12
Ushuaia,
Argentina
– disembark – same

Antarctic Circle Quest
6 Feb, ’22 / 13
Feb, ’22 / 24 Feb, ’22 / 3 Mar, ’22 / 11 Mar, ’22 / 16 Dec, ’22 / 6 Jan,
’23 / 7 Jan, ’23 / 15 Jan, ’23 / 24 Jan, ’23 / 4 Feb, ’23 / 10 Feb,
’23 /
16 Feb, ’23 / ’23 Feb, ’23 / 4 Mar, ’23 / 20 Mar, ’23
Sail down the Antarctic
Peninsula and cross the Antarctic Circle, South Shetland Islands,
Wildlife, Scenery.
Various
$7,550 – $33,446
10-14
Punta
Arenas Chile or Ushuaia,
Argentina – return same

Notes

* Prices are based per person, the lowest
price is usually for triple occupancy in a basic cabin, the highest for double occupancy
in the best available suite.

Options may be at additional cost and are usually booked when the cruise is booked
– it may be too late once the cruise has started.

Contact me about my trip
to Antarctica!

Our partner company,
Ice Tracks,
UK based
and ATOL protected, will help you find the perfect trip to Antarctica,
all enquiries will be answered from our office in Warwickshire,
England.

Please complete the form
and an Antarctic Expert will contact you

Please note – we cannot help directly to
find
employment in Antarctica, please do not use
this form to request information other than for Antarctic tourist
trips


Departures from late October to early
March

Dozens of trips – unique
combinations of ship + itinerary

Choice of ships – 108
to 139 passenger capacity

$8,050 to $40,000

10 to 33 days

ice berg, antarctica
gentoo penguins

Picture credits: Top banner – Cuverville
island, courtesy of LBM1948 used under CC BY-SA 4.0 licence
/ Deception island huts – Ulf Gustafsson / Deception Island
tanks – Christopher Michel, Creative Commons 2.0 license /
Top slider: Deception Island Whalers Bay –
W.Bulach used under CC BY SA 4.0 licence. / Greenwich Island
– Phil Wolpe, used under CC BY SA 2.0 licence. / Penguins –
ravas51 used under CC BY SA 2.0 licence. / Whalers Bay – Christopher,
used under CC BY 2.o licence. / Half Moon Island – HMS Protector
at harbour, UK Ministry of Defence, OGL licence / Annotated and
illustrated map of Livingston and Greenwich Islands,
published by the Antarctic Place-names Commission of
Bulgaria and released by the Commission’s Chairman Apcbg
for publication under GFDL and CC-BY-3.0.

The South Shetland Islands are “proper” Antarctica, and have a wide variety of Antarctic sights and experiences in good measure.are based per person, the lowest price is usually for triple occupancy in a basic cabin, the highest for double occupancy in the best available suite.may be at additional cost and are usually booked when the cruise is booked – it may be too late once the cruise has started.Top banner – Cuverville island, courtesy of LBM1948 used under CC BY-SA 4.0 licence / Deception island huts – Ulf Gustafsson / Deception Island tanks – Christopher Michel, Creative Commons 2.0 license /Deception Island Whalers Bay – W.Bulach used under CC BY SA 4.0 licence. / Greenwich Island – Phil Wolpe, used under CC BY SA 2.0 licence. / Penguins – ravas51 used under CC BY SA 2.0 licence. / Whalers Bay – Christopher, used under CC BY 2.o licence. / Half Moon Island – HMS Protector at harbour, UK Ministry of Defence, OGL licence / Annotated and illustrated map of Livingston and Greenwich Islands, published by the Antarctic Place-names Commission of Bulgaria and released by the Commission’s Chairman Apcbg for publication under GFDL and CC-BY-3.0.

Bài viết cùng chủ đề:

Trả lời

Email của bạn sẽ không được hiển thị công khai.