Last Resting Place Of A Great Explorer

“I chose life over death for myself and my friends….I believe it is in our nature to explore, to reach out into the unknown, The only true failure would be not to explore at all. “ ~ Sir Ernest Shackleton

On January 5th, the 95th anniversary of the great explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton’s death, our cruise ship anchored just off Grytviken within King Edward Cove. The now rusted whaling station is today the site of the South Georgia Museum, and lies within a sheltered harbour tucked between Hope Cove and Hobart Rock, on the western shore of Cumberland East Bay.


We got ourselves all togged out in our many layers of warm clothing and hopped onto the Zodiac inflatable which would take us ashore.


The first place to visit was the whalers’ cemetery where there are sixty-four graves.


The most visited and photographed of these is, of course, that of Shackleton himself, who used Grytviken when planning the rescue of his crew from the ill-fated ‘Endurance’ in 1915.Β  His body was returned to South Georgia at his widow’s request after he died from a heart attack whilst at sea in 1922, and he was laid to rest in his favourite place on earth, Antarctica. The back of this simple granite column is engraved with a quote from his best-loved poet, Robert Browning, “I hold that man should strive to the uttermost for his life’s set prize.”


Elephant seals and fur seals occupy the main beaches around the bay.


This one was proudly keeping watch over his harem and family.


The sound of snoring from this super-relaxed napper was very audible indeed.


Who could resist taking a photo of this cute baby seal?


King Penguins come ashore to moult during the summer months. This one was happy to pose, as he was still sporting his full plumage.


The Grytviken whaling station was established by sea captain Carl Larsen in 1904, and in its heyday was serviced by 300 men. It was abandoned in 1966 when whale numbers had dropped to an alarmingly low level.


Abandoned whaling ships litter the coastal landscape and add to the ghostliness of this place.


The seals were just everywhere. One had to be careful not to trip over them.


The tiny Norwegian church, the oldest church in Antarctica, was shipped from Norway and consecrated on Christmas Day in 1913.


It’s been restored and is in good condition, although it hasn’t had a pastor since 1931.


It was a most fascinating visit and I wish I could show you all the photos we took inside the museum, but maybe I’ll do that in another post.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing some of what I saw on my amazing trip. More to follow when I have sorted through my photos.


98 comments on “Last Resting Place Of A Great Explorer

  1. Pingback: Last Resting Place Of A Great Explorer – Marsha Ingrao

  2. That was a wonderful tour! I loved the snoring seal pup. The ghosts of old whaling ships must be interesting to see up close. The seals seem to make good use of them for shelter from the wind.

  3. I love the picture of you bundled up. I bet it was still cold. I love the proud penguin, too. You seem to have a way of making them pose for you. We see a lot of seals in Oregon, sea lions, too. Your out-of-the-box thinking is so great, “There is a distinctly malodorous smell around both seal and penguin colonies. I guess we’d be the same if flushing toilets hadn’t been invented.” LOL! So many good pictures and not enough words to say! The ghostly ships, the pristine church with no pastor since 1931. It all speaks to a very rugged life. πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚

  4. What a fabulous place with more history than I imagined. The old whaling ships captured me the most … even more than the lovable locals … but no sand on those beaches! πŸ˜‰

  5. What an extraordinary awesome place Sylvia . To see the final resting places for Shackleton , whalers and those huge rusting boats surrounded by such cold beauty …a thought provoking visit indeed … Seeing the all wildlife very uplifting

  6. πŸ™‚ It is so good to see you over there, braving the cold. After arctic temperatures in Europe I am not in a hurry to go to Antarctica. Thank you for this wonderful share, Sylvia. It is a treat to see a King Penguin and a Norwegian church. Gorgeous captures!

  7. The church looks pristine sitting there in its environment. Not too many parishioners, I take it? I’ve never researched Antarctica, only what we were taught in geography class (which wasn’t much). Can’t wait to see more about it. The animals all seem cooperative!

  8. Gosh, what an extraordinary place…..I feel kind of sad though thinking about all those beautiful whales being slaughtered on an industrial scale…the image of the church is haunting!

  9. These photos were amazing, Sylvia! I enjoyed hearing about the famous explorer and seeing the ancient graves.
    The seals and baby ones were so sweet and cute! ❀ I particularly was thrilled to see how healthy they all were. I loved the proud, almost royal penguin.
    So glad you were able to have some of your dreams come true on this lovely cruise.

      • Memories are always enhanced with photographs to remind yourselves later on. These special trips together are also something which blesses your husband and your marriage. ❀ ❀
        My parents had some exciting trips in their retirement years, Sylvia. I am always happy to know they filled their lives with children and family during the hardworking years, and finally had a chance to relax and enjoy! They were like you two by including children and grandchildren on some of their jaunts. πŸ™‚

  10. What a fascinating and historical place Sylvia, I did so enjoy your photos and narrative. How wonderful to see wild penguins amongst the seals. Between Christmas and New Year when we lived in California, I would take the kids to see the elephant seals who came up on the beach up by Cambria, and it was always a delight to see the babies. Your baby seal is adorable! So glad the whaling station is gone, those old rusted ships certainly do look very eerie, and the church is beautiful, this entire post so atmospheric, love it πŸ™‚ xxx

  11. Excellent photos S. we have a friend who had a number of seasons working for BAS and he sent us a postcard from SG of the whaling station. On his return after the first trip he stopped off in Spain to visit us. He had some fabulous photos too.

  12. A snoring seal, I doubt many of us have heard that! They’re incredibly cute and it’s good they have a safe, pristine place to live. What an interesting place to visit Sylvia, I’m looking forward to your penguin photos πŸ™‚

  13. You have seen an amazing place, It is so lovely to see the seals here in peace and not being hunted but they can relax and live happy. I am sure not many people have the privilege to go there and experience it. Thank you for sharing.

  14. I just love this post Sylvia! Did you go in 2016 or just this past January? (Says 2016?). I am dying to know all about it as I am fascinated by Antarctica. The church is amazing and I’m wondering if there are any more buildings there or is the church and the ship ruins it. Must have been quite the experience! Can’t wait to read more!

    • Yes, we’ve just got back from our trip. I’m still thinking 2016. πŸ˜€ There are more buildings there. There’s a museum and also a post office, the old bakery, a workshop and a couple of other sheds.So fascinating to visit there.

  15. What a trip! Never mind about the adorable seals, Sylvia, but you actually visited the grave of our hero Sir Ernest Shackleton?? We turn green with envy!! Unbelievable.
    I now see it as my duty to visit the lovely church from my home country. This one come high up on our list now, thank you. πŸ™‚

    • Yes it was quite the trip of a lifetime. We travelled with Seabourn cruise line and the expedition team on board were absolutely fantastic and so knowledgeable. I would highly recommend should you decide to visit Antarctica.

      • Klausbernd has got some 8-10 shelves in his library on explorer and the Arctic/Antarctic. We have always looked North and thus travelled towards the Arctic, (which is much nearer of course) but recently we have read several books about people travelling/sailing the route of Shackleton and watched several films about this area including the Elephant Isles, the Drake Passage etc. It sounds very tempting. Thank you.

  16. Seeing you dressed up like that and especially seeing you sat out in the wind near the water, brrrrr .. cold…

    The seals are cute but I am quite sure they can attack you. Fascinating place!

  17. Do you know I walk with friends around an area called Shackleton Circuit every week, and never knew much about the man, he sounds very intrepid! I enjoyed the tour……it must have been so cold and bleak for those explorers. It would be nice to see more of the museum…also loved the little Norwegian church…all built so long ago. I bet you are enjoying the Florida sunshine now!

Comments can start a conversation. :)

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s