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South Shetland Islands
South Shetland Islands

South Shetland Islands

The Basics

Deception Island, with its interesting horse-shoe shape and warm swimming waters in Pendulum Cove, is one of South Shetland’s top tourist destinations. One of the most famous islands is Elephant Island, best known for sheltering Shackleton’s crew after their ship was destroyed in the Weddell Sea. Other popular destinations include King George, Livingston, and the Aticho Islands.

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Things to Know Before You Go

  • The South Shetland Islands are a popular stop for most Antarctica cruises.
  • Pendulum Cove on Deception Island is a must-see.
  • Expect strong winds and cold temperatures all year round and make sure to consult the tour suggested packing lists.
  • Antarctica cruises may be wheelchair accessible, be sure to inquire in advance.
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How to Get There

The easiest way to get to the South Shetland Islands is via cruise or expedition ship. Cruises to the islands typically leave from Ushuaia in Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego and travel anywhere from one to two weeks. You can also fly into King George Island from Chile or Argentina during the summer months.

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When to Get There

December through March are the best times to visit the South Shetland Islands. Temperatures are warmest and daylight is the longest from December through early February. The prime penguin hatching season is late December through January and whale-watching is best in February and March. Antarctica is generally not accessible for tourism from April through September.

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Wildcard

Visiting King George Island King George Island is South Shetland’s largest and most populated island with research stations operated by several countries. Highlights include a visit to the Russian Church of the Holy Trinity, tours of the research stations, and zodiac cruises of the coast. King George Island also hosts the annual Antarctica Marathon, which has taken place on King George since 1995.

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