Circumnavigation of South Georgia

Celebrating Shackleton's Centenary

Zegrahm Contributor|June 8, 2015|Blog Post

“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.”

It may not be the most upbeat help-wanted ad ever written, but Sir Ernest Shackleton’s recruitment notice would nevertheless inspire a 27-man crew to sail the Endurance from South Georgia on December 5, 1914, in the hopes of being the first to cross the Antarctic continent.

The journey, of course, did not go as planned—pack ice would ravage and ultimately sink Shackleton’s ship, and his crew, stripped of their ultimate goal and stranded for months on ice floes and crags, would suffer unimaginable hunger, frostbite, and mental strain.

Shackleton’s story, however—and his heroic efforts to save all 27 of his crewmembers—is the stuff of legend. After ordering his men to abandon ship on October 27, 1915, enduring blizzards, sailing in salvaged lifeboats, scaling glacier-clad mountains, and even staving off starvation by eating the expedition’s dogs, Shackleton would eventually board a small Chilean steamer named Yelcho with two of his crew members to save his remaining men who’d been stranded on remote Elephant Island since April 16, 1916. The rescue, occurring on August 30 of that same year, came more than 20 months after the Endurance originally set sail. 

If you’ve ever dreamed of following in Shackleton’s footsteps and celebrating the “Golden Age of Exploration”—albeit in a more modern fashion (read: safe, comfortable, and accompanied by accomplished naturalist guides)—you’re in luck: 2014-2016 marks the centennial anniversary of the Endurance expedition and this October, we will sail the South Georgia seas 100 years to the day when Shackleton gave his order to abandon ship.

During the 19-day small-ship cruise, you’ll circumnavigate South Georgia from the comforts of the Sea Adventurer. The Endurance this is not—equipped with stabilizers, satellite navigation systems, and an ice-hardened hull, the 110-guest ship also features a fitness gym and fleet of Zodiacs for exploration, along with ocean views and en suite bathrooms in each of its cabins.

Following the Sea Adventurer’s departure from the Falkland Islands (look for black-browed albatross and Magellanic penguins), seven days in South Georgia allow for a flexible schedule and an unhurried pace to take in the island’s blue glacier ice, emerald bays, and snowy peaks while spying wildlife such as southern fur seals and king penguins (colonies on the Salisbury Plain have been known to exceed 200,000!). A visit to Grytviken also lets you pay your respects to Shackleton; a former whaling station, the site now houses a cemetery where the famed explorer was laid to rest in 1922 following a heart attack he suffered during a later expedition to the South Pole.  

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