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Grytviken Whaling Station

November 19, 2017

Grytviken Whaling Station

This derelict Whaling station is a fascinating place to see local wild life which are unafraid of humans. You are able to get up real close. Here there is also Shackleton's Grave, The Whalers Church & the huge complex which made up the Whaling Station. The increasingly dilapidated and dangerous state of other stations like Stromness and Leith mean that Grytviken isn the only one where the removal of blue asbestos and collapsing walls and roofs means that you can actually get up close to the terrible machines that helped to bring some species of whales to the brink of extinction. You are sure to visit here if you have come to South Georgia; badger your guides to give you as much time ashore as possible, and soak up the atmosphere, isolation and history. 

What Guests Say about it is as follows 

Lonely outpost of rugged life in a different time

We landed at the old whaling town of Grytviken on South Georgia. The town has a rich history that must be understood to be from a different time when whales and seals were slaughtered for their blubber and their pelts. Once a thriving town for the whaling industry, today it is little more than some old buildings, derelict ships, and miscellaneous rusty equipment. It is sobering to walk around the town, hearing of its history, and remembering that this beautiful and wild environment with its rich resources was once terribly exploited. It is a poignant reminder that these natural resources must be protected and the environment preserved for future generations. As you walk among the wildlife that is now at home in this former slaughtering house, you are also reminded that life is hard for the animals even without the human hunter. The animals are brutal to one another, and the scars and injuries that some display are heartbreaking. It is ironic that the center of the South Georgia government and a British scientific research station are down the shore from Grytviken at King Edward Point.

But it is also a beautiful place, surrounded by mountains, and we were there on a gloriously sunny and warm day. We heard the church bells peal out, and we wandered through the interesting museum and paid homage to Sir Shackleton’s gravesite (separate reviews). This is a place that will evoke many emotions and much respect for the early explorers.

Fascinating decay

We visited the Grytviken whaling station with a guided tour by the intern of Grytviken museum. Fascinating to see the decaying old whaling station with all the rusty equipment and imagine when it was live in action. 
Great place to see what a whaling station was like and there are good tables at each of the main steps explaining the history and what purpose the building or piece of equipment served back in the day. The guided tour was good, although the guide struggled to answer ad hoc questions. 
Must do when in South Georgia

A Haunting Place well worth a visit

My expedition ship brought us here, and it was a highlight of a wonderful trip. The Museum and Church, together with a tour of the old whaling station, evoked the hard life of the whalers who nearly eliminated whales from the S. Atlantic a hundred years ago. It is hard to get a sense of the large scale of these whaling operations until you actually visit, and some of the images are not pretty. The graveyard includes the grave of Ernest Shackleton, but it was also a powerful reminder of how many men never made it "home" from S. Georgia. Remember that there is a working post office open while groups are ashore - a unique place from which to send postcards or buy stamps for collectors.

Everything You Wanted to Know Whaling

This is one whaling station that you can understand the in and the out without a guide. Many self explanatory signboard to explain the machinery involved. I would not bother about the wildlife because you will get to see them many times over again in your many landing in the peninsula. Because you never get this close to a whaling station, unlike Stromness where we could not get close to it. Also the museum is a must.

A rusty reminder of a bloody past

Unlike at Stromness, we could walk close to the buildings here. It's history is horrific and it made me shudder to think of the thousands of whales there were slaughtered here. Watching the fur seals and penguins all over the place made me happy to see nature take over once again :-) The old ships and buildings are great subjects for artsy photographs.

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