Visiting Antarctica is something that is totally unique, it truly is a place that not many people get the opportunity to visit in their lifetime. The South Shetland Islands are a place that presents an opportunity to see some amazing scenery and wildlife, and they are very close to Antarctica. In this article we will talk a little bit more about the South Shetland Islands and some things that make them very special.
What are they?
These islands are located around 120 kilometres from the Antarctic Peninsula and are perhaps the southernmost area in the world with a significant tourist influx. They are accessed by taking a cruise from the South American mainland through the Drake Passage, which is the body of water between the islands and South America.
Who do they belong to?
Technically speaking the islands do not belong to any one according to the Antarctic Treaty and are as a result free for anyone to visit.
Islands to visit
Perhaps the most beautiful of the South Shetland Islands, Deception Island is actually an island with an active volcano underneath! There is no reason to fear though because Originally the island was home to sealer and then whalers after them, the remnants of which can be seen in the many decaying buildings that still exist on the island. Deception Island is also the place where swimming is possible, while this may sound strange the volcanic activity under the island makes it possible to swim.
King George Island
King George Island is without a doubt the most multicultural of the South Shetland Islands, especially given that has research bases of 12 different countries. This place is typically picturesque and offers some of the best landscapes that you can see. In particular the many fjords and bays are sights that will stick in the mind for as long as you are alive. As well as the perfect landscape, there are a number of species of penguins and other birds.
Half Moon Island
The name of the island is of course because its shape resembles the crescent of a half moon. Many cruise ships stop here and the island has a huge array of wildlife, including petrels and chinstrap penguins. The southern part of the island also has a good walking path that is around 2 kilometres and allows you to really get up close and personal with everything that the island has to offer.
This island has an amazing history and was actually the place where Ernest Shackleton and his crew became stranded in 1915. His ship became damaged by pack ice and he was forced to seek help in South Georgia Island by taking a dangerous boat journey. As well as the historic value of the island, it also offers an abundance of wildlife. The island is well known for the penguin colonies and nests that are here, as well as 5500 year old moss.