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Fortuna Bay

November 19, 2017

Fortuna Bay

Named for an early whaling ship (Fortuna), the bay and its surrounding area are host to a large colony of King penguins (who will follow you as you walk). Being in one of this place on earth is so surreal that you can pinch your self if you are just dreaming or not have my sun rise in St. Andrews Bay sorrounded by hundreds and thousands of cute penguins, elephants and fur seals is so amazing especially when the sun is coming out and slowly revealing more and more beauty of this place.

What Guests Say about it is as follows 

Teeming wildlife on an expansive plain

Fortuna Bay was our first landfall in South Georgia, and we were thrilled to finally be there! We had had a terrible sea crossing from the Falklands – it took 3 days of 25-30 foot seas, with the ship pitching, rolling, creaking, and shuddering. The waves would break above our windows on the fourth level. Everyone was asked to be careful on board, but then no one was up and about much at all. Mainly looked like a ghost ship that happened to have barf bags every 2 feet along the hand rails in the halls. But it was an exceptionally bad crossing. When we finally got to South Georgia, the weather was still bad. Many landing sites were not usuable, and we skipped our first two planned stops. Other ships were stacked up at those sites in any event, so we moved on to a very sheltered anchorage and landing in Fortuna Bay. Fortuna was a nice setting with a long, wide rocky beach that ran for miles. Behind the cobble beach were found grass tussucks, each one of which was topped by a fur seal. Behind the tussocks was a broad expanse of grassy plain with little streams and rivulets crossing through it. There were fur seal moms, pups, and youngsters everywhere! Even when you tried to give them a wide berth, it was very difficult. The youngsters in particular took great pleasure in charging you and trying to scare you. You had to fuss at them to get them to back away. The pups were totally engaging…each looking at you like they were trying to figure out if you were their mom. They would crook their heads one way and then the other, almost upside down, and then skip along when you didn’t pass muster. The youngsters would do a lot of practice wrestling, looking for all the world like schoolboys, fake charging, wrapping round each other, butting heads and necks – it was hilarious. 
But there was another main attraction on the shore – the King Penguins. They huddled together in the grasses or mainly in the streams, where they could cool their feet in the water. Although it was blowing snow, it was relatively warm, particularly for them, and they were overheating a bit. They also were in various stages of molting, from those who had full adult plumage, to those who were fully covered in long fluffy brown “fuzz” (aka, “Oakum Boys”), to those who were somewhere in between and looking quite shabby. These penguins were also everywhere and stretched down the shoreline as far as the eye could see.Interspered in smaller numbers and prowling around in search of eggs, pups, or carrion were skuas and southern giant petrels. The skuas are clearly hated by the other inhabitants, while the petrels simply look above it all and very prehistoric with their huge, odd-shaped beaks. At Fortuna, we also saw two endemic bird species, the South Georgia pipit and pintail duck. There were also a few elephant seals tucked farther up the slope away from the hustle and bustle of the greater masses. 
Fortuna was a wonderful and fortuitous landing on South Georgia, particularly considering the conditions. It is a lovely and huge expanse with a wide variety of wildlife – quite the introduction to South Georgia.

Spectacular. Not to be missed while in South Georgia

My wife and I visited the Fortuna Bay area while we were on an extended Antarctic cruise last month (which included three days around South Georgia). Of course the highlight of this particular visit were the spectacular king penguin colonies, but South Georgia's immense jagged skyline did nothing to lessen our experience, by any means. Whether you are on an organized cruise or a private tour, make sure you get on the beach so that you can commune with these amazing, colorful and noisy animals. Out of our entire three-week cruise I would put this experience firmly in the top three, and it's well worth the effort getting and being there.

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