Known as the Alps in Mid-Ocean, South Georgia is the gateway to the continent of Antarctica. It is part of the British Overseas Territories, along with the South Sandwich Islands. With rugged glaciers, mountains, and rich marine life, it has much to offer to travelers looking for something different.
These islands are some of the most remote and wild in the world. Access to the islands are only possible via the sea. There's an absence of proper accommodations here, making it imperative for travelers to come either by yachts or a cruise.
Travelers interested in visiting need to apply in advance for permits. Usually, the cruise you are a part of will handle the documentation. Individual expeditions need prior approval.
When traveling somewhere as remote as South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, it's imperative to purchase the right
travel medical insurance or
Read on to discover all the amazing things you can explore on these windswept islands, as well as how you can get the right coverage.
Things to Do for Travelers in South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
With its many fjords and a staggering amount of wildlife, there's a lot to explore and experience here. An incredibly vibrant array of marine life attracts countless seals, penguins, and sea birds. It's a place any nature lover will fall in love with.
South Georgia Museum, Grytviken
Established in 1991, this museum is the go-to place for information on local history. It specializes as a whaling museum. Information on sealing activity, natural heritage, and the Falklands War is also exhibited.
Elsehul Harbour is one of the main breeding grounds for fur seals in the region. The primary breeding season is from November to March. During that time, landing becomes almost impossible due to the density of wildlife. Other than fur seals, you can also view petrels, albatross, and penguins along its coast.
Right Whale Bay
Usually the first stop for cruise ships, this bay is in the northwestern part of the island. Until November, you can glimpse king penguins and elephant seals here. November onwards sees fur seals monopolize the bay for breeding.
Albatross Watching in Prion and Albatross Islands
The Prion Islands are a treat for bird lovers. As the name suggests, the area is famous for whale birds. But that's not all. It is also home to albatross, Gentoo penguins, brown skuas, pintails, pipits, gulls, and more.
This fjord will take your breath away with its scenic beauty. With rugged, ice-capped mountains and a glaciated inlet, it is the must-visit bay in the area. It also shelters Weddell seals, a predator found only in the Antarctic region.
Norwegian Lutheran Church
The southernmost church in the world is located in Grytviken. Situated near to the whaling station, it also holds a bust of Sir Ernest Shackleton, a famous Antarctic explorer who led three British expeditions there, and is buried nearby.
Travel Risks for International Travelers in South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are about as remote as a destination can get. The islands are not accessible by air, and don't have any permanent settlements. As such, accommodations and healthcare facilities are absent.
The high waters around the island are choppy and some of the roughest in the world. There are also active volcanoes in the South Sandwich Islands. It is a good idea to be advised of some precautions to keep in mind while visiting the islands.
Avoid Sun Exposure
Be cautious of sun exposure, especially from September to November. South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands experience near 24-hour sun with little ozone protection during this period. Sunblock and sunglasses are must-have travel essentials.
Carry Basic Medications
There are limited medical facilities available at King Edward Point. But they are in no way capable of handling all emergency medical situations. Fur seal bites tend to get infected rather fast. In case you get bitten or scratched by one, clean the wound and take a course of antibiotics immediately as directed by a medical professional.
Dehydration is a major risk in the cold and frigid climate here. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, especially on windy days.
Brace Against Seasickness
The South Atlantic Ocean is considered to have some of the roughest waters in the world, with frequent storms. Prepare yourself for seasickness and carry proper medications, if required.
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Travel Medical Insurance for International Travelers - FAQs
The Antarctic region is rugged, untamed, and for all intents and purposes, a wilderness. As such, travelers run a greater risk of falling sick or getting injured here. It is always better to prepare yourself while traveling to such remote locations. Travel medical insurance that provides adequate coverage is essential for visiting such a rugged environment.
Do I need travel medical insurance for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands?
All visitors to South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands arriving on a cruise must have medical insurance that meets the cruise requirements. Your cruise should ensure the insurance covers emergency medical evacuation and repatriation of remains costs.
If you're traveling to the islands as part of an Antarctic expedition, you must similarly carry insurance that meets all the requirements set by your expedition company or guide, as well as the British government.
Why buy travel medical insurance for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands?
Traveling anywhere comes with inherent risks, but when your destination is somewhere as remote and extreme as the Sandwich Islands, the risk undoubtedly increases. The absence of healthcare facilities means that any medical emergency is almost sure to require emergency medical evacuation, and that comes at a steep price. Make sure your travel medical insurance provides the right coverage for your trip or expedition.
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Trip Cancellation Insurance for International Travelers – FAQs
Traveling to South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands is an involved process. You will likely have to book several flights well in advance, book a cruise, and pay for any accommodations during your stopovers. Should any of your travel plans be canceled or delayed, you could be facing significant nonrefundable charges, or big cancellation fees. Trip cancellation insurance exists to help you get reimbursed for those charges.
Why buy trip cancellation insurance for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands?
A visit to the southernmost tip of the world is always fraught with uncertainty. International travel, especially to the Antarctic region, is expensive. Cancellation of expeditions due to extreme weather conditions is also not uncommon. Trip cancellation insurance can protect you from incurring financial losses. In case of sudden cancellation, it can reimburse you for your covered expenses.
What all is covered under trip cancellation insurance for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands?
Your travel insurance for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands should provide coverage for trip cancellation. However, there are also strict guidelines from government authorities on proper insurance coverage for all visitors. Some of these guidelines include:
Vessel applications must include incident contingency plans and details of their medical capabilities
Travel insurance should include trauma injury management, and medical evacuation contingency plans
Visiting vessels must be self-reliant in every respect, as there are no search-and-rescue services available in the islands
The insurance policy coverage must extend to South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
The insurance must also provide coverage for any adventurous activities being undertaken
It's important to work with your cruise line or guide to carefully choose your insurance coverage for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and to ensure that it meets all government requirements before you travel.
Before You Travel to South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands - Do This
You are traveling to one of the most remote locations in the world. Understand that you might have to do without some basic conveniences during your time there.
Do thorough research before booking your vessel. Be aware of the travel restrictions in place before making any reservations. Ensure you have all permits to ensure smooth passage.
Carry basic medications for emergency use. Get adequate warm clothing to protect yourself from freezing. Above all, prepare yourself to endure extreme environmental conditions.
travel medical insurance plan or
travel insurance plan
is a must if you wish to visit this region. The insurance coverage you have in place for your trip should follow all government guidelines.