After our last landing on South Georgia had to be skipped, we sailed directly to Drygalski Fjord. This would be our last excursion on the island: we would sail into the fjord, as if doing a boat tour. The weather worsened as we got closer: I was standing on the bow of the ship, but the icy rain and wind combined to make my stay uncomfortable. My gloves were soaking wet and only made my hands feel colder, but I did not want to miss a second so I stayed put. Putting on dry gloves would only give a temporary solution anyway. Named after the German leader of an Antarctic expedition in the early 20th century, Drygalski Fjord is about 11 km long, in the very south of South Georgia. While I could see both sides of the fjord, with both sides rising steeply from the sea, the view into the distance was very limited because of the clouds sailing into the fjord. It gave the fjord a wild look.
By now, it was clear that weather could change any moment here, and indeed, as we entered the fjord, the light seemed to improve a little. On our right, we saw a glacier dramatically coming down an almost vertical rock face, with rugged peaks of ice on top. Part of the glacier reached all the way to the sea, while most of it had already fallen off and stopped somewhere halfway the rocks. It was a matter of time before these huge chunks of ice would come down as well, and I could only imagine what a spectacle that would be once it happened. Closer to the end of the Drygalski Fjord, we saw two huge glaciers coming down from the inside of southern South Georgia: their massive faces reaching well into the icy sea. Small icebergs were floating everywhere, the massive wall of ice seemed to flow directly from the thick layer of clouds above. A very weak sun could now be seen, trying to pierce through the clouds. A snow petrel, that gracious, small white bird, was circling around our ship. Just as we had experienced before in South Georgia, this again showed us the sheer natural beauty of the island.
Our captain pushed the ship as far as he could towards the face of the glacier, and now that we were close, the bow was full of people braving the elements that were anyway less punishing than when we entered Drygalski fjord. We were, of course, waiting for parts of the glacier to collapse, trying to predict which slice would calve off first, but bar some smaller chunks falling into the water, nothing big happened. It was when we sailed back that the other, half-receded glacier lost some more of its ice when a sizable piece came tumbling down the rocks, splashing into the sea. By now, the sun had managed to shed enough light on the ice to make it shine, and sailing out of the Drygalski fjord was a goodbye in style of South Georgia: the elements at work, surrounded by ice and rocks and followed by several birds which seemed to be bidding our farewell.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Drygalski Fjord (South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Drygalski Fjord.
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