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King George Island

November 19, 2017

King George Island

King George is an island but actually more an area to visit. With beautiful bays, small islands, both the stunning views as the wildlife is a true gem on the West Antarctic peninsula. yo will find several scientific stations, there are the bases of Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, China, Russia, also can visit the Orthodox church and watch closely the work of scientific researchers from all around the world.

Great Starting Point for Our Antarctica Cruise

Flew from Punta Arenas, Chile to King George to be picked up by zodiac boat to board the Sea Adventurer for a one week cruise. Landing on gravel airstrip at King George and then hiking about 1.5 miles down to the beach was amazing. Lots of military presence/buildings around air-strip. Fascinating to imagine being stationed on King George with your family and braving the Antarctica winters. We were thrilled to reach the water and see our first two penguins frolicking in the water. Almost like they were ambassadors there to great us. Great introduction to Antarctica.

Antarctica is like a safari on water...

I ran a half marathon on King George Island with Marathon Tours and travel. The boat we were on was a Russian research vessel and so only 100 sailors were allowed. It's hard to express how unbelievably beautiful this vacation was and if I had more money I would go back again.We boarded the boat in Ushuaia, Argentina which was incredibly beautiful. We spent two days crossing the Drake Passage to arrive in the neighborhood of King George. The Drake passage can either be the Drake Lake or the Drake "Shake" We got the lake and all was good. I wore a sea sickness patch and was never so relaxed in my life. We spent those two days getting fit for wet gear, learning about ship, and great schooling on penguins, whales, and seals.Almost everybody took a turn during the trip in the Sea Kayaks. My turn was paddling through sea lions and next to beautiful glaciers. Others that went out later in the trip paddled around with whales coming to surface right next to them. 
Every time we got on a Zodiac we knew it was going to be awe inspiring. Penguins that could care less you were there and just went about their business. Whales that swam right next to your boat. The Zodiac drivers where first class at what they did.Our Marathon was run on King George Island and as we finished a young male Emperor Penguin wandered on shore to hang out at the finish line. Our guide told us this was very rare and that they don't generally travel that far south. He posed under the banner and everybody got great photos.
The icing on the cake was a trip to Paradise Cove which is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. We did the Polar Plunge on the rocky shores of the beach. Was it cold? Not if you dress correctly. My fingers were the only thing that ever got cold and that was because of all the photos and video I was taking. The worst part? The two days back on the boat. We hit some rough water in the beginning and everything was good as long as I stayed horizontal. But that only lasted for 12 hours. Calmer waters and I was up and about and sad that the adventure was almost over. When I told people I was going to Antarctica they thought I was crazy. I feel so lucky that I did this and if I could I would give it 10 stars!
Also you don't have to do the run - they need others to help with the race so many companions came along to cheer us on. 

King George Island worth the trip

The tour group really works on this adventure. They contact the various research stations to secure a place to use the bathroom and rest.You are likely to see several penguins and a few birds. The landscape is unlike any place I have ever seen. There are two churches and the small Russian Orthodox church is worth a look.

Half Moon Island was a definite highlight on our cruise through the South Shetlands.

I would rate Half Moon Island very highly if you are in the King George Island area, although I have to say there are many opportunities for fantastic and unique sightseeing in the entire island chain. Our visit coincided with a lovely sunny day, and so a landing on Half Moon Island was easily organized from our Antarctic cruise vessel on this particular day. We cruised the bay in Zodiacs and saw orcas and seals, then we got up and personal with colonies of Chinstrap and Gentoo penguins on the island itself. The weather was really lovely, making this one of the most memorable of days on our three-week Antarctic cruise.

A good stop on the Antarctic journey 

We arrived here via the Seabourn Quest and made it to shore via small Zodiacs to get up close and personal with the Adelie penguins. This particular area is primarily a research station zone in Antarctica, so it is isn't the most pristine stop when visiting the area ... but fascinating all the same.

Antarctica Marathon

Once in a lifetime trip. We booked through Marathon tours. We were on the Vavilov, run by One Ocean Expeditions. 

The Vavilov had under a 10 passengers, cabins were comfortable, food good, great staff. Every day once we got to the Antarctic peninsula we were on Zodiacs twice a day on cuises or making lndfall to see wildlife.

One Oceans had very knowledgeable staff, very professional. One Ocean staff are Aussie, NZ, Canadian and Brits, all outgoing, fun and did a great job.

The Vavilov is a smaller ship with excellent Russian crew. One Ocean leases the Vavilov and Ioffe, both built for polar scientific expeditions and well equipped for rough seas and people who want some adventure on their cruise.

A very different place

No wonder it can be called the world's largest white desert. The trip to King George Island and the guided tour of the facilities and history and UN resolution concerning Antarctica was informative. Antarctica is an amazing place and the fact that we could visit was trip worth taking because the weather can be so fickle.

Half Moon Bay on King George Island

One of the typical stops on cruises to Antarctica, Half Moon Bay is on King George Island in the South Shetlands island chain. I recently travelled with Quark to this bay and was dropped off in a zodiac to view a large colony of chinstrap penguins. In January, you can see the penguins on their nests protecting their chicks from ravenous skuas (brown birds of prey that feed on penguin chicks and eggs). The view from the nests offers excellent photo op of the penguins with a backdrop of colored rocks, icebergs and snow covered mountains. It is simply breathtaking .This was a cold winter which extended into January so after you land ashore you have to walk up to the nests in the snow which can be slippery. In these conditions walking sticks are recommended for those who are not accustomed to walking in the snow. You are restricted to where you can go so as not to bother the penguin access to the beach and their own beaten path trails and must be careful to keep a distance of 15 feet at all times. Only 100 people are permitted on shore at any one time so it is important to be on an expedition which can accommodate everyone who wishes to go ashore and visit this site. I highly recommend it.

[ Contact us to book your tours in Antarctica ]

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