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Top Hiking Trails to Explore in South Georgia

Footprints of Adventure: Must-Explore Hiking Trails in South Georgia

South Georgia Island lies 1000 km east of Falkland Island, and they have been under the British administration since 1908. The islands are a part of British overseas territory of South Georgia as well as the South Sandwich Islands. It has an area of 1450 square miles.

The island is 100 miles long and 32 km wide. Marine life is abundant, and many species of seals and penguins exist.

Top Hiking Trails to Explore in South Georgia
Photo by Kamaji Ogino

The northern coast of South Georgia has many bays that serve as good harbors. Owing to remoteness and harsh climate, the island has no indigenous population. The topography of the island includes a stepped sequence of flat surfaces.

Hiking in South Georgia

The South Georgia traverse has been rated one of the world’s most epic hikes. The traverse of South Georgia is one of the harshest and the most impressive in the world.

If you are up for something challenging, immerse yourself in the dramatic wilderness and hike across the glaciers and black-sanded beaches.

Georgia offers a variety of trails and terrains, from endless rushing rivers to deep canyons. While hiking, you will also encounter mesmerizing waterfalls, from big to small ones!

South Georgia is an island in itself, the land of rugged beauty. It has towering snow-capped mountains as well as glaciers that stretch for miles!

The jewel of Antarctic adventure: Hiking trails

A few places encapsulate a variety of flora, fauna, and Tundra, such as the sub-Antarctic scenery, wildlife, and many kinds of outing opportunities in South Georgia.

This dazzling island has snow-dusted mountains, penguin colonies, and blue bays that will sweep you off your feet!

Following are the most famous hiking trails in South Georgia:

Ernest Shackleton Hike

Sir Ernest Shackleton laid the foundation for many enthusiastic travelers and hikers, and following his footsteps, you can complete the last leg of this heroic journey across South Georgia.

It is a 6km hike from Fortune Bay towards Stromness. It is one of the prime highlights of visiting South Georgia. You can enjoy the amazing vistas and picturesque places you encounter while traversing!

Salisbury Plain, South Georgia

This is the broad coastal plain found with the Bay of Isles on the north coast of South Georgia. The plain is surrounded by the mouths of Grace and the Lucas Glaciers, which are flanked on the southern coast of the bay. The Mouth Ashley is located to the South of it.

This place is known as the breeding site for 60,000 King Penguins. The beaches are covered with many Southern Elephant seals. There are three main beaches, which are the world’s largest breeding beaches for elephants.

At Salisbury Plain, you will be greeted by the sight of four-ton elephant seal bulls that guard the territories.

Seabirds galore

The southern ocean has an abundance of marine life, especially seabirds. Albatrosses and petrels, known as the “tube-nosed” seabirds, fly above the southernmost seas.

One can spend their entire day watching these birds from the ship’s deck. After catching a glimpse of these birds, you will feel like following them all over the horizon.

Albatrosses take advantage of wind, gliding effortlessly across huge distances and constantly searching for fish and squids. The distinguishing feature of albatrosses is their large size. They have a wingspan of 3.65m, which is larger than any living bird.

You will be mesmerized by the duet flights performed by Phoebetria Palpebrata! The grey-haired and black-browed albatross nest on the steep hillsides through South Georgia.

Grytviken’s Animal inhabitants

Grytviken is an abandoned whaling station claimed by elephant seals, king penguins and many species of seabirds. This hamlet on South Georgia is the largest settlement on the island.

Located at the tip of King Edward Cove, within the Cumberland East Bay, it is considered the best harbor on the island. It is built on a substantial area of flat land and has a good fresh water supply.

If you are intrigued by history, you can go to the South Georgia Museum and Shackleton’s grave.

Fortuna Bay seals and penguins

Fortuna Bay is the starting point for the Shackleton traverse and even if you are not in a mood for a hike, there is a plethora of things you can do. You can enjoy the wildlife here and take plenty of photos! This bay is populated by penguins and seals!

The place is known for fur seals and king penguins. Shackleton’s path from Fortuna cuts the mountain pass behind the waterfall. As the terrain is swampy, the hikers should be prepared to cross a few small streams.

Prion Island

An island which is located 2.4km to the northeast of the Luck point, is the one which has been designated as a Specially Protected area by the South Georgia government. One needs a permit to visit this island.

Following are some restrictions levied down by the government:

  • The island is closed between 20 November and 7 January to prevent a disturbance of breeding fur seals at the beach.
  • The island only permits a maximum of two visits per day.
  • All the visitors should stay on the boardwalk and land at the designated beach only.
  • There are a maximum of 50 people allowed ashore.
  • One has to go through several biosecurity checks before landing.

Penguin colonies

There are more than 450,000 pairs of king penguins in South Georgia. This is about half of the world’s population. This island is the home to more than 30 colonies in total. The largest is at the St. Andrews Bay. This one is the home to 150,000 pairs.

This island is a hotspot for king penguins owing to its proximity to Antarctica. It is where the polar waters meet the temperate ocean. The place is particularly famous for Lantern fish. King penguins carry their eggs tucked into a warm fold instead of making a nest.

Cumberland Island

The Cumberland Island has unfathomable terrain that stretches from the northern forests to the southern beaches. The best way to explore this island is by exploring it on foot instead commuting with the help of a vehicle.

The island has an array of things to offer its visitors. Usually, it is advised to firstly cover the Southern Loop in the southwest portion of the island. This trail is the best one for the day visitors owing to its size and location.

This route takes the hikers on a 4.3-mile loop all the way through marshes to beaches. This trail passes through the Dungeness Ruins, which is one of the most popular tourist attractions.

Parallel trail is the trail that runs through the heart of the island. Only experienced hikers traverse through this trail owing to its location and size.

Crooked River State Park

The Crooked River State Park is another area with breathtaking views. It is minutes away from the Cumberland Island. It gives visitors a great privilege of the sights and sounds of water while staying at the mainland. Visitors can experience up to four different types of trails.

Each one has a different length and scenery. Palmetto Trail is the short path that leads the hikers through the endangered pine Flatwoods. This trail is a wonderland for all the avid bird lovers as one can stumble across an abundant variety of species of birds.

Some of the varieties of trees one can spot here are Chapman Oak, Carolina Holly, Red Cedar, Egrets, Ospreys and Great blue Herons.

Okefenokee Adventures

People from all over the world come to experience this national marvel. It allows the civilians to experience hiking trails at their own pace. It contains six hiking trails and a broad walk with an observation tower. The most appealing part of these trails is that they are not strenuous.

This allows the visitors to spend more time sightseeing. One is likely to come across birds and alligators everywhere. There are cypress trees everywhere, and the hikers can spend the entire afternoon inside the refuge!

Grand Bay Wildlife Management Area

The Grand Bay Wildlife Management area covers over 2500 acres of the state-owned property and it is known for its paddling opportunities. Hikers can soak under the basking sun while enjoying the spectacular view of the blinding blue sky!

The trail winds its way through the marshes of South Georgia. The animals which are most commonly seen on this route are Snakes, Alligators and birds.


All in all, you should not miss out on the trails in Southern Georgia! The trails are for avid hikers and nature lovers alike!

Written by Emma Parker

Hi, I'm Emma Parker, a passionate outdoors enthusiast and blogger. I love nothing more than exploring the great outdoors and sharing my experiences with others.

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