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Maiviken to Grytviken walk and visit to Grytviken Whaling Station

Finally we got a calm night, when after finishing the day’s hikes we dropped anchor in Jason Harbour. As it is located close to Maiviken (the first landing site planned for today) it was not very early when we departed. A short sail under clear skies adorned with spectacular lenticular clouds led us to Maiviken Cove. This spectacular little bay is tucked into the cliffs that defend the coastline at the entrance of Cumberland West Bay.
We start our morning activity from Poa Cove, one of the three little beaches in Maiviken. From there we start our morning activity over a well trodden path. The views were fantastic, blue skies helped to it, together with the calm winds and the stunning lenticularcloud formations, derived from powerful winds high up in the atmosphere. Along Bore Valley we walk along a mountain lake where a small hut stands. It was built in 1974 and is kept in good conditions until nowadays. From there we climb to 205m of altitude to the so named Dead Man’s Cairn, the highest hill of the hike. Beyond this point it is all downhill to Grytviken. Not visible during the hike, the whaling station suddenly appears as we round the lower hills close to the coastline. Splendid views over all the facilities offered a good reason to stop for a while, waiting for the Europa to show her nose from behind the cape and drop anchor in the bay. As soon as she appears, we make our way down straight to the embarkation point, still with some time to take some shots of the numerous artifacts and structures surrounding the landing site.
Back on board for lunch in time, both for enjoying it on deck and before the skies start to cover. In the meantime Captain Eric, Mate Gjelte, Sarah and Jordi went through clearance and mandatory paperwork with the Steven, the local British authority, before start our afternoon landing. While working on that, in the Deckhouse we were having an interesting talk about the Habitat Restoration in South Georgia. We are all happy that the reindeer and the rat eradication programmes have been a great success. Much more left to be done still, requiring more fund-raising and hard work for monitoring projects, assess and get rid of introduced plants, sustainable tourism, and so on. Then all was ready for us to land, and soon we did, going first straight to the famous graveyard where, amongst many other graves of sailors and whalers, lays Ernest Shackleton and Frank Wild’s ashes. Shackleton died on January 5th 1922, at South Georgia, on his way south for his third Antarctic expedition. His body was on its way to England when his widow requested to send him back for burial to where he belonged: in the deep south. He was buried near Grytviken on the 5th March 1922. On the other hand, Frank Wild was buried here in 2013 and honoured with a plaque. Now both are reunited again, the “Boss” and his right hand and First officer. Their resting places are in a preeminent location amongst 63 whaler’s and sailor’s graves. There we all conducted a small traditional ceremony in their honour. This time, besides a shot of fine whiskey, our fellow traveller Phil played traditional Irish tunes with his flute. Soon after, Sarah, the head of the South Georgia Heritage Trust and Museum Curator, offered a guided walking tour through the whaling station, ending at the Museum, Post office and well-assorted Shop. Either joining the tour or walking on our own, it was pretty impressive to walk around the well preserved remains, including giant rusted anchor chains, high pressure steam cylinders, buildings, hauled out workboats, beached whaling boats, chimneys, generators and engines.

Written by:
Jordi Plana Morales | Guide

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