The Ultimate Travel Guide to Grytviken, South Georgia

63 min


Grytviken South Georgia


Every little thing you want to learn about visiting Grytviken, South Georgia.

Shack Against Mountains Grytviken South Georgia

As our ship gently cruised into King Edward Cove we got our first sight of Grytviken, the most important settlement on South Georgia.

Nestled on the base of rising peaks carved out by the glaciers of yesteryear, Grytviken has a formidable look, with the rusted steel skeletons of the outdated whaling station dominating the city.

Whereas the remainder of South Georgia’s sights are targeted on the wildlife and landscapes, right here it’s the historical past of polar exploration, whaling and conflict that piques the curiosity of holiday makers.

With our vessel, the Akademik Sergey Vavilov anchored and the zodiacs prepared, we left the ship and made our manner into Grytviken.

Journey to Grytviken, South Georgia

South Georgia is without doubt one of the most distant locations on the planet, positioned within the south Atlantic Ocean near Antarctica, and fewer than 10’000 individuals journey right here yearly.

Virtually all people that visits South Georgia does so with a licensed tour operator, travelling by ship from Ushuaia in Argentina or Stanley within the Falkland Islands.

South Georgia is commonly mixed with an expedition to Antarctica and the Falkland Islands, giving travellers 2-Three days to discover the island.

Each single tour that visits South Georgia features a stopover in Grytviken, the financial and political hub of the island, to formally stamp every visitor into the territory and clear customs.

This additionally presents an ideal alternative to discover the city, stroll across the sights and study extra about its historical past.

We travelled to Grytviken with One Ocean Expeditions on an in-depth South Georgia photography symposium, permitting us to spend additional time within the city and across the island.

Whereas most individuals are targeted on the king penguins, elephant seals and sea birds that occupy South Georgia, we discovered our time spent visiting Grytviken to be one of the crucial fascinating components of the whole tour.

Right here’s our information to the historical past, sights and sights of Grytviken, South Georgia, and to let you realize what to anticipate in your subsequent go to.

King Penguin Grytviken South Georgia

A king penguin stands proudly whereas the zodiac crew of One Ocean Expeditions arrive at Grytviken.

Whaling in Grytviken – A Tragic Historical past

Grytviken was house to the most important whaling station in South Georgia, and it’s inconceivable to stroll across the corroded ruins of its processing plant with out feeling a way of dread on the massacres that occurred right here over a long time.

On the 16th of November, 1904, the Norwegian Carl Anton Larsen established the primary whaling station on South Georgia, and this could change the course of historical past eternally for each the island, and the marine life within the Southern Ocean.

Whales have been hunted for his or her high-value oil, which was used around the globe for oil lamps and to make cleaning soap, in addition to for his or her bones and meat.

They weren’t the one animals hunted within the area although. Elephant seals have been additionally below assault, and over the a long time hundreds of thousands of animals have been killed right here.

Larsen selected Grytviken to be his base due to the big, sheltered harbour, the simple entry to recent water and the steep surrounding mountains that supplied shelter from harsh climate from the west.

Whale Bones Grytviken

Whale bones left on the bottom in Grytviken.

Regardless that whales have been being captured for years beforehand, the institution of this whaling station in Grytviken allowed for processing and manufacturing to be ramped up severely.

Over the following 60 years the looking was so aggressive that they primarily over-fished the seas round South Georgia, and the plant was compelled to shut in 1966 attributable to an absence of whales being caught.

Now that the station wasn’t in use it began to corrode and collapse, making it fairly harmful for anybody who ventured close to it.

As well as it was constructed utilizing asbestos, and because the fibres broke down a lot of Grytviken grew to become a poisonous hazard.

Years later the South Georgia authorities decontaminated the positioning, lastly make it secure for individuals to wander with out hazmat fits.

At this time strolling across the ruins of the outdated whaling processing plant is an absolute should when visiting Grytviken. With such a tragic historical past it may be fairly overwhelming to be stepping by the positioning of slaughter, nevertheless it’s a really fascinating place.

Grytviken South Georgia

Exploring the rusted skeleton of the whaling station is a must-do when in Grytviken.

The Resting Place of Sir Ernest Shackleton

Grtyviken can also be the place of burial for Sir Ernest Shackleton, arguably the best polar explorer in historical past.

His expeditions to the Antarctic are the stuff of legend, and South Georgia was a vacation spot that was of nice significance throughout his adventures.

It was in Grytviken in 1914 that Shackleton began his preparations of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, the perilous try to cross the whole Antarctic continent by land through the South Pole.

His journey was not profitable as a result of abundance of pack ice his ship, the Endurance, encountered within the Weddell Sea.

The ship grew to become trapped, and for the following 18 months his males lived in camps on the ice making an attempt to make their manner again to security.

They ultimately arrived at Elephant Island in April of 1916, and Shackleton took a small group of males on his 7m lengthy life boat, the James Caird, on a 1300km journey again to South Georgia.

James Caird Shackleton South Georgia

A life-size reproduction of the James Caird, the boat Shackleton and his males sailed for 16 days throughout the Southern Ocean from Elephant Isle.

From right here he launched a exceptional rescue mission again to Elephant Island, and regardless of all odds he managed to save lots of the lives of each single certainly one of his crew who had remained behind.

Whereas his expeditions to the Antarctic had already made him well-known, it was this harmful rescue that eternally cemented him in historical past books.

After Sir Ernest Shackleton died in 1922 on South Georgia throughout one other certainly one of his adventures, his physique was being taken again to the UK when his spouse despatched by a telegram requesting that he buried in Grytviken.

His physique was quickly returned, and he was laid to relaxation within the Grytviken cemetery.

At this time his gravesite is a well-liked place for all guests to Grytviken, and it is not uncommon to toast the nice man with a whiskey, in addition to to his proper hand man, Frank Wild, whose ashes are positioned beside his ‘boss’.

Sir Ernest Shackleton Grave South Georgia

The headstone of Sir Ernest Shackleton.

The Falklands Warfare in South Georgia

In 1982 Argentina invaded the British-controlled Falkland Islands in an try to realize management of the archipelago that they believed rightfully belongs to them.

The conflict itself was comparatively brief, lasting a complete of 74 days when Britain efficiently beat the Argentinians, forcing them to give up.

Whereas the Falklands Warfare is sort of effectively documented, few individuals realise that it was truly South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands the place the primary ‘strike’ was made.

On the 19th of March some Argentine retailers raised the flag of Argentina in South Georgia, prompting the UK Navy to dispatch a crew from Stanley on the Falkland Islands to research and defend their territory.

It was this act that was ultimately thought of to be the offensive manoeuvre by Argentina.

Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands on April 2nd, and took management of South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands on the third.

22 Royal Marines have been stationed in Grytviken on that day, and so they managed to shoot down an Argentine helicopter and kill Three troopers within the battle, however they have been ultimately defeated by the invaders.

These casualties stopped Argentina from taking management of every other components of the island, and the remaining Royal Marines hid within the mountains with out detection.

On the 25th of April following an assault by the Brits on certainly one of their submarines, Argentina surrendered Grytviken with out firing a shot.

At this time you possibly can study extra concerning the temporary historical past of the Falkland Islands conflict within the unbelievable museum in Grytviken, and if accompanied by a information you possibly can hike to the stays of the Argentine helicopter, a brief stroll previous King Edward Level.

Grytviken Falklands War

Grytviken as seen from the harbour. This was an necessary web site in the course of the Falklands Warfare.

5 Issues to Do in Grytviken, South Georgia

There’s solely a handful of issues to do in Grytviken, South Georgia, however these issues will definitely fill the hours up, and they’re effectively value doing.

Have a Toast to Sir Ernest Shackleton

Absolutely the very first thing you must do when you arrive to the settlement is head over to Sir Ernest Shackleton’s grave, positioned within the cemetery simply exterior of city, and drink a toast to the nice man.

Once we travelled to Grytviken with One Ocean Expeditions, the crew dropped us off proper on the base of the cemetery and requested all people to assemble on the gravesite.

They’d introduced mugs and bottles of whiskey alongside, and Jonathon, our polar historian onboard, gave an amazing speech about Shackleton’s journey.

After the toast was made we poured a little bit of whiskey on Shackleton’s grave, had a sip, then poured a bit on Frank Wild’s grave, Shackleton’s proper hand man, whose ashes are buried subsequent to him.

Whale Bone Grytviken

An outdated whale bone, close to the resting place of Sir Ernest Shackleton.

Spend Time within the Superior South Georgia Museum

The Grytviken museum isn’t giant, nevertheless it is without doubt one of the most fascinating museums we now have been to in a very long time.

The rooms are devoted to varied parts of South Georgia, corresponding to whaling, wildlife, polar exploration and extra, and we have been disenchanted that we didn’t give ourselves rather more time in there.

You may actually spend not less than two hours studying the entire bits of data, trying on the photos (some are fairly ugly from the whaling period) and watching the movies on show.

South Georgia Museum

Contained in the South Georgia Museum.

Stroll Across the Outdated Whaling Station

Essentially the most distinguished characteristic in Grytviken is the ruins of the outdated whale processing plant, and the corroded constructions occupy many of the area you possibly can stroll round.

For those who’re into photography or simply have a fascination with outdated engineering and building, the station is a unbelievable place to discover, despite the fact that the tragic historical past of animals being slaughtered right here clearly brings about an emotional expertise.

The whole plant has been cleared of asbestos so it’s secure to stroll round with out respiratory safety, however watch out of any sharp bits of rusted steel, unsafe overhead hazards and naturally fur seals that may be hiding behind any nook.

Pipes Whaling Station

Outdated pipes within the whaling station.

Ship a Postcard on the Put up Workplace

Have any associates or household at house that also love getting postcards? Properly why not ship them one from one of the crucial distant locations on the planet!

The publish workplace in Grytviken is run by the few employees that stay on the island, and you should purchase playing cards and stamps to ship them off to wherever on the planet.

When provide ships dock into city the employees will give the postcards to them to be delivered to Stanley within the Falkland Islands.

From right here they’ll be shipped again to the UK, after which mailed out around the globe. It’d take a number of weeks (or months) for them to reach, however the pleasure your loved ones will get after they obtain it is going to be effectively well worth the wait.

South Georgia Post Office

Don’t overlook to ship off a postcard on the Put up Workplace.

Test Out the Grytviken Church

Inbuilt 1912 in Norway and transported to South Georgia in 1913, the Grytviken Church is the oldest building on the island nonetheless in use.

This cute timber church may be very picturesque, particularly when contrasting towards the putting mountains behind it and the corroded processing plant within the foreground.

Regardless that companies are very not often held right here anymore, guests are welcome to stroll across the inside, sit and pray in the event that they’d like, and even climb into the rafters to ring the bell over Grytviken.

Church Grytviken South Georgia

The attractive church in Grytviken.

Can You Keep in Grytviken, South Georgia?

Until there’s an emergency or prior preparations have been made with the South Georgia Heritage Trust, it isn’t permitted to sleep on the island, and there’s no lodging in Grytviken out there.

Virtually all people who travels to Grytviken sleeps onboard their passenger ship, excluding permitted scientific researchers and explorers.

Artefacts Museum

Artefacts exterior the South Georgia Museum.

How Many Individuals Dwell in Grytviken?

The official inhabitants of Grytviken is eight individuals, however this grows to round 30 individuals in the summertime, and fluctuates relying on the necessity for extra personnel there.

Most individuals residing in Grytviken work for the South Georgia Heritage Belief, are members of the British navy, or are customs officers.

How Do You Get To Grytviken?

The one technique to journey to Grytviken is to go by ship, and except you will have your individual sailboat, the commonest manner is to hitch a licensed tour operator.

We travelled to South Georgia with One Ocean Expeditions, and cherished their journey as a result of not like different corporations they provide a way more in-depth tour of the island, permitting us to spend a complete eight days there.

Freight ships do make the journey from the Falkland Islands, however it’s virtually inconceivable to safe a berth on certainly one of these boats attributable to insurance coverage and quarantine points.

Journey to Grytviken normally occurs from certainly one of two ports – Ushuaia in Argentina or Stanley within the Falkland Islands. There isn’t any airport in Grytviken, or on South Georgia in any respect.

One Ocean Expeditions South Georgia Vavilov

Our ship, the Akademik Sergey Vavilov, operated by One Ocean Expeditions, sits within the harbour exterior of Grytviken.

Wildlife in Grytviken

Whereas Grytviken doesn’t have the density of wildlife you discover elsewhere in South Georgia, there’s nonetheless a wholesome inhabitants of various species within the settlement.

You’ll after all discover king penguins waddling about, and after we first landed on the shore one got here proper as much as our zodiac to see what we have been.

There’s a small variety of elephant seals that may be discovered lounging round, though the harems aren’t almost the dimensions of different locations like Gold Harbour.

The principle animal you’ll need to be careful for when strolling round Grytviken is the fur seals, who calm down on the seashores and have began to maneuver into the whaling station.

Male fur seals could be very aggressive, particularly in the course of the mating season when the females return to the island, so be sure to preserve your distance.

Fur Seal Whaling Station

A fur seal lazes about contained in the whaling station. They typically conceal behind corners, so be additional vigilant when strolling round.

Extra Photographs of Grytviken, South Georgia

From a photographer’s standpoint, we actually loved strolling round Grytviken and taking photos of the outdated whaling station.

The rusted tanks, pipes and sheet steel was extraordinarily fascinating to take a look at, and the deeper you appeared the extra curious strains and options may very well be discovered.

Being on a pictures symposium we had the pleasure of studying from a few of the world’s finest skilled photographers.

On at the present time we have been notably impressed by Gerhard ‘Guts’ Swanepoel, co-owner of Pangolin Photo Safaris in Botswana, who spent a number of hours strolling round with us and exhibiting us what he appears to be like for in a novel photograph.

Listed below are some extra of our photos from Grytviken. 90% of those have been captured by Alesha.

Old Ship Grytviken

An outdated ship is left deserted by the dock.

Spinning Rotor

A spinning rotor, nonetheless shining in spite of everything these years.

Lines Whaling Station

Fascinating strains could be discovered all over the place within the outdated whaling station.

Chain Links

Rusted chain hyperlinks sit in a field.

Rusted Metal Snow

Rusted steel contrasts properly towards the white snow.

Down Line

Trying down the road.

Old Dock

An outdated hut sits out on the dock.

Grytviken Church Tanks

The Grytviken Church, as seen between two disused storage hangars.

Inside Grytviken Church

Contained in the church.

Rivets Tank

Rivets stretch throughout a tank.

Twisted Bolts Tanks

The twisted bolts of the storage tanks.

Lines Grytviken

Extra fascinating strains.

Tanks Busted Bricks

Tanks and busted bricks in Grytviken, South Georgia.

Ship Dock

The facet of the outdated ship, subsequent to the dock.

Old tanks

Extra outdated tanks.

Old Paint

Paint peels away from the rust.

Old Boat Grytviken

One other outdated boat lies on its facet in Grytviken.

Our go to to Grytviken and South Georgia was in partnership with One Ocean Expeditions. All ideas, opinions, and a whole bunch of images of outdated rusted buildings are, as at all times, our personal.

Alesha and Jarryd

Hey! We’re Alesha and Jarryd, the award profitable writers and photographers behind this weblog, and we now have been travelling the world collectively since 2008. Journey journey is our ardour, and thru our tales and pictures we promote thrilling off-the-beaten-path locations and engaging cultures as we go. Comply with our journey in actual time on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

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