Wild, remote and rugged, this archipelago of 778 islands is completely unlike anywhere else on Earth. The Falklands is home to coves flanked by wildflowers and native tussac grasses, waters awash with whales and expanses of unspoilt beach with an abundance of seals, penguin, dolphin, elephant seal and over 200 specials of bird.
Wildlife lovers rejoice, here you will find sheep grazing alongside albatross colonies while rockhopper, king, gentoo, magellanic and macaroni penguins waddle by, and straited caracaras patrol overhead as viscous leopard seal lay in wait for their next meal. Fur seals, elephant seals, and a variety of whales also inhabit this island – it’s not hard to see why Darwin has a namesake settlement here!
Located on one of two primary islands, Stanley, is a lovely sheltered harbour that was once a bustling port in the 19th century. Wander through charming streets of brightly coloured houses, lively pubs and shops peddling local art, hand-made soap, jewellery and wool. The island also boasts a colourful history. Stop by the philatelic museum to learn about the island’s fascinating postal history, the historic Dockyard Museum, featuring exhibits tracing England’s 1982 conflict with Argentina and an impressive waterfront war memorial. The island even has a craft brewery to enjoy a pint in after a day of exploring.
As remarkable as it is vast, the crescent-shaped South Georgia is made up of two mountain ranges over 100 miles long. Covered with glittering glaciers, sheets of ever-changing ice-caps worn by the elements and rugged snowfields, this is one of the world’s ultimate wildernesses.
It’s no mystery why South Georgia is often called the ‘Serengeti of the Southern Ocean’ with countless fur seals, leopard seals, crabeater seals, albatross, petrels and gulls, macaroni penguins and king penguins from fuzzy chicks to fattened adults that stretch as far as the eye can see. Orcas, fin whales, humpbacks and others can also be found in the island’s surrounding seas. Post up on a beach and watch the spectacle of enormous male elephant seals barking, battling and laying claim to their territories – a sight to behold.
For even more adventure, follow in the footsteps of renowned Antarctic explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton (who is also buried on the island in a whaling cemetery). Take a jaunt around the island and uncover a restored church built by the original Norwegian whalers on the island, the active British Antarctic station and the historic Grytviken whaling station which is also home of the South Georgia museum. Make sure to pack your camera, it’s not unusual to spot wildlife overtaking the rusting graveyard of buildings and ships at Grytviken, an incredible sight to capture.
This part of Antarctica beckons the most daring explorers to visit its fierce and stunningly beautiful panoramas. Weddell Sea is home to the planet’s clearest sea, it is a place where incredible tabular icebergs herald your arrival and mountains rise out of vast, snow-free planes. Those who have traversed the Weddell Sea have had numerous close encounters with Humpback whales surfacing to feast on krill and inquisitive orcas who often play on the surface.
The Weddell Sea is also home to numerous penguin colonies and the Adélie penguins are undoubtably the most abundant. This is particularly evident on Paulet Island, a small volcanic island and a favourite of penguins and tourists alike with 100,000 pairs of Adélie penguins flocking to Paulet Island’s central cinder cone each year. If the weather permits, you can sail further south where you will find an Emperor Penguin colony and far wandering penguins can often be found perched on ice flows.
In short, this sea is the epitome of Antarctic beauty and if you’re hungry for adventure, a trip through the Weddell Sea is a must!
New York Times, January 2020
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