Right Whale Bay: Weather dictated all our landings and this day was no exception. A stormy morning delayed our landing until the blizzard like conditions eased. South Georgia weather was capable of rapidly changing for better or worse. Fortunately, today it would be for 'better' - much better.
The sun broke through the clouds and it appeared we would have a 'window' to go ashore. We were quick to seize the opportunity not knowing how long it would last.
After a short zodiac ride, we landed on the beach. I set out with a couple of my shipmates to explore the area away from the beach and we headed toward the foothills.
This area appeared to be sparcely populated yet we met a few relaxed young Fur seals, a few hauled out male Southern elephant seals, and then we were overtaken by sporadic herds of King penguins hurriedly hiking toward the hills.
The King penguins pushed past us - and past a huge Southern elephant seal hauled out on the snowy plain. They were clearly on a mission.
We crossed the middle of the open plain, battling the wind and blowing snow, we often had to backtrack to find better areas to cross the many melt water streams running through the plain.
When the wind eased, it became easier to see the blury dark pockets in the distant foothills. These were large gatherings of King penguins and - although I didn't realize it yet - this is where the parade was headed!
I eventually pulled myself away from the party and hiked back to the other side of the valley to re-visit the main colony of King penguins.
From this vantage point I looked out to the Hans Hansson in the bay, with the sunshine sparkling on the blue water, the white areas where King penguins were busy stamping out tracks in the freshly fallen snow - and even a view of the 'famous' waterfall. What an amazing morning.
With wildlife encounters like these, South Georgia was already exceeding my high expectations. Much more to see in Right Whale Bay than simply a waterfall - just as I was finding there far more to South Georgia than what I had ever dreamed.
To be continued...