Visit South George Island

54.41° S

One of the most isolated islands on Earth, South Georgia is located in the windswept southern ocean. Steeped in history it is home to some of the Earth's highest concentrations of wildlife.

Introduction

Less visited than Antarctica, South Georgia Island allures travellers due to its hard-to-reach status, the sheer abundance of wildlife, and tales of polar exploration that spark the imagination of any visitor. Its mountainous interior, remote beaches, shipwrecks, glaciers and the stunning Drygalski Fjord offer explorers a chance to encounter a seldom-seen island.

For animal lovers, South Georgia’s remote location makes it a haven for wildlife that come to the Island each year to breed on its steep-sided beaches. The Island is one of the best wildlife viewing destinations on Earth, with the largest rookeries of King Penguins. Its remote bays provide the perfect haven for fur and elephant seals to breed. Wandering Albatrosses nest on remote islets and can often be seen swooping over the ship on the journey there.

South Georgia holds many jewels for history lovers, from the story of Ernest Shackleton’s epic crossing of South Georgia to rescue his men from the ill-fated Endurance expedition to the ghostly remains of former whaling stations dotted along South Georgia’s coast. In Grytviken, you can visit the museum to learn about South Georgia’s history and afterwards make a toast at the graveside of Shackleton, who passed away there on a later expedition.

Cruises to South Georgia

South Georgia island cruises king Penguins At Sunrise
Door to Door
Puerto Williams to King George Island
Dec 06 2025 - Dec 21 2025
15 Nights

Price from per person

£27,400
Gentoo Penguins on a Beach in Bleaker IslandFalkland Islands
Door To Door
Puerto Williams to Puerto Williams
Feb 22 - Mar 12 2025
18 Nights

Price from per person

£19,500
Saint Andrews Bay and King Penguins South Georgia Island Cruises
Door To Door
Puerto Williams to Puerto Williams
Nov 23 - Dec 11 2025
18 Nights

Price from per person

£19,000

Ways to Visit South Georgia

A cruise ship bow in the Drygalski fjord on a South Georgia Island cruise

Expedition Cruises to South Georgia From Antarctica

Embark on an expedition cruise that explores South Georgia and The Antarctic Peninsula, sailing from Ushuaia in Argentina.
King Penguins on A Beach in the Falkland Islands

Expedition Cruises to South Georgia From The Falkland Islands

A handful of expedition cruises sail from the Falkland Islands and extensively explore South Georgia each year.

As South Georgia has no landing strip and is not accessible by air, visiting on an expedition cruise is possible. To learn more about all the options, please see our guide.

When to visit South Georgia Island

It is possible to visit South Georgia Island during the Southern summer months between late October and March when expedition ships explore the Island. Outside of this time, it is impossible to visit due to the rough weather conditions experienced there during the winter months.

Each month in South Georgia offers the visitor a different experience. Early in the season, visitors are greeted by snowy landscapes as the penguins return after a long winter to breed and seal pups emerge on the beaches.

The busiest time for wildlife (and visitors) is between December and February. The King Penguin rookeries are in full swing, with the mothers sitting on their nests and the newly born Gentoos making their way to the sea for the first time. Fur seals are seen in abundance, although they can prevent access to landing sites due to the sheer numbers.

From March, the shores are snow-free, making longer hikes possible, and brown, fluffy King penguin chicks fill the beaches.

Please see our detailed guide for the best time to visit South Georgia Island and a monthly overview of the wildlife and weather.

People Exploring South Georgia Island

Where is South Georgia Island?

View from cruise ship in South Georgia of landscape

South Georgia is a remote island in the Southern Ocean approximately 960 miles northeast of the Antarctic Peninsula and 870 miles east of the Falkland Islands at the latitude of 54.4296° S, 36.5879° W. It is often visited on expedition cruises which feature the Antarctic Peninsula on the same voyage.

South Georgia consists of the main Island, 103 miles long and 22 miles wide, and many smaller remote, desolate islets and islands. The land area is approximately 1,360 square miles, with a mountain range forming the interior and offering breathtaking views to visitors on expedition ships. Mount Paget, at 2,934 metres (9,626 ft), is the highest peak on the Island and is considered the highest mountain in UK territory. 

The interior of the Island has many glaciers, which are receding. Glaciers can also be seen at different landing sites, such as Salisbury Plain and the Drygalski fjord at the Island’s southern tip. 

South Georgia Island Wildlife

One of the main attractions of an expedition cruise to South Georgia Island is the staggering abundance of species on the beaches, coast, and ocean surrounding the Island. A visit there is the real-life equivalent of watching a natural history documentary unfold before your eyes.

A penguin lover’s paradise, South Georgia is home to 4 penguin species and has some of the highest concentrations on the planet. It boasts over 400,000 nesting pairs of King Penguins, 1 million Macaroni Penguins, 100,000 Chinstrap penguins and a smaller colony of Chinstrap penguins, creating some of the Earth’s most incredible natural spectacles.  

Gigantic Southern elephant seals rest in colonies on the beaches. Early in the season, males can be seen fighting each other to take control of a beach. At the end of the breeding season, hundreds of thousands of fur seal pups can be seen swimming in the sea, resting in the Tussock Grass and lining the beaches. 

Whales, which are frequent visitors to South Georgia after being nearly hunted to extinction, are regularly sighted when cruising the coast. Albatrosses, petrels, Skuas, and South Georgia Pipits are just some of the 31 bird species on the Island. 

Please see our guide below to learn more about South Georgia’s wildlife and help you plan the best month to visit.

Saint Andrew's Bay South Georgia King Penguin wildlife colony

South Georgia Island Weather and Climate for Visitors

Zodiac cruising in South Georgia during the summer

South Georgia Island has a sub-Antarctic climate with relatively cold temperatures throughout the year. Due to its location in the Southern Ocean and the Island’s mountainous geography, South Georgia is windy with high precipitation levels. 

During the summer months, when expedition cruises explore the Island, temperatures vary between 0 to 5°C (32 to 41°F) in October, 2 to 6°C (36 to 43°F) in November – February to 1 to 5°C (34 to 41°F).

It is important to note that the weather is highly changeable in South Georgia, and the wind chill can make it feel considerably colder. We recommend a more extended visit for guests looking to see as much of South Georgia as possible, as landings can be hampered by bad weather, which can occur during the summer. 

Please see our guide for a month-by-month breakdown of South Georgia’s weather and temperature, which will help you plan your visit. 

South Georgia Island History

From its discovery in 1675 by the merchant Antoine de la Roché who was reportedly blown off course on a voyage from Lima to England, to Ernest Shackleton’s crossing of the Island in 1906 after sailing on a rescue mission from Elephant Island in Antarctica, South Georgia has a historical past that will resonate with any visitor. 

Shackleton would later return to South Georgia in 1922 on the ship Quest, where he fatefully had a heart attack and died at the age of 47. Today, visitors come from all over the world and make a toast to his legacy by his graveside in Grytviken. 

South Georgia is known for its whaling history, which began on 16th November 1904 when a Norwegian whaler founded a whaling station at Grytviken with another six whaling stations to follow. Whaling ended in 1965, and today, the ghostly, abandoned whaling stations can be seen along the coast of South Georgia. Visiting the whaling station at Grytviken is possible, but the other stations remain off-limits due to their dangerous structures. 

Please see our guide to learn more about South Georgia’s captivating history.

Historical church on South Georgia Island

South Georgia FAQ

South Georgia Island does not have a permanent civilian population. It is inhabited primarily by a few staff at research stations, mainly focused on scientific research and wildlife monitoring. The population can vary depending on the season and specific research activities.

South Georgia Island is a British Overseas Territory administered by the United Kingdom. Argentina also claims the territory.

Yes, you can. The only way to visit South Georgia Island is on an expedition cruise from Antarctica or the Falkland Islands.

Do you need help planning your expedition cruise?

Why Reserve With Us?

Join Us

Subscribe to be the first to know about new voyages, exclusive offers and insider travel tips.

North Pole Cruises – a brand by the Expedition Collective Limited

© 2024 The Expedition Collective

Ask A Question

Do you have a question for our knowledgeable Travel Experience Team? We’re all ears! Just fill out this form, and we will be in touch shortly to answer your question.

Call Us

UK | EU
USA & Canada

Your Guide To Exploring The Polar Regions

Subscribe to be the first to know about new voyages, exclusive offers and insider travel tips.