Elephant Island, refuge of Shackleton’s Endurance expedition

Elephant Island is an ice-covered mountainous island off the coast of Antarctica in the outer reaches of the South Shetland Islands, in the Southern Ocean. Its name was given by early explorers sighting elephant seals on its shores. The island is situated 245 kilometres (152 mi) north-northeast of the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, 1,253 kilometres (779 mi) westsouthwest of South Georgia.

The island is most famous as the desolate refuge of Sir Ernest SHACKLETON and his crew in 1916. Following the loss of their ship ENDURANCE in the ice of the Weddell Sea, the 28 exhausted men reached Elephant Island after a harrowing ordeal on drifting ice floes. They established a camp at a place they called POINT WILD where they were able to regain some strength. (Wikipedia).

It is from here that Shackleton with five other men decided to sail in an open lifeboat, the JAMES CAIRD,  the 1.287 km to South Georgia where he arrived two weeks later. The episode is considered one of the most incredible feats in the history of sailing and navigation.

« The longing for the Ice, the sadness of departure… it is as if I cannot after all bear to leave this bleak waste of ice, glaciers, cold and toil. » – Sir Ernest Shackleton

South Georgia

South Georgia , South Atlantic, a very remote British sub-Antarctic island, 170km long and 40km wide.

Discovered in 1675 by London-born merchant Antoine de la Roche while sailing from Lima to England. Captain James Cook made the first landing on January 17, 1775. It was the most important center for the Southern Atlantic whaling industry from 1904 until 1966. The settlement of Grytviken was founded by the Norwegian Captain Carl Anton Larsen. In its heyday around 300 men worked in the station during the summer months (Oct.-Mar.) .

It is also the site from where the heroic Irish polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton left on his fateful Endurance expedition, and where he returned in the 6,5m lifeboat James Caird to fetch help for the rescue of his 22 expedition crew members stranded on Elephant Island, 800 miles away.

In 1921, Shackleton returned to the Antarctic with the Shackleton-Rowett Expedition, intending to carry out a programme of scientific and survey activities. Before the expedition could begin this work, Shackleton died of a heart attack in 1922 while his ship, Quest, was moored in South Georgia. At his wife’s request he was buried there  in the lonely cemetery, alongside some Norwegian whalers (who died in a 1912 typhus epidemic) and an Argentine soldier -victim of the Falklands War. (Partially quoted from Wikipedia).

The photos below date back to January 2007. All taken with a NIKON D200 mostly with a AF-S NIKKOR 18-200mm

PS.: The University of Dundee has developed an apps “The Island of South Georgia” with more information and some stunning 360° panorama shots.

TUNISIA: memories of travels in 1970-72

“Le lendemain, je n’aimais plus que le désert” André Gide

Along the Danube: from Linz to the delta

Memories of Antarctica

These photos were taken in the Gerlache Strait, Paradise Bay, the Lemaire Canal and in the Drake passage. The last photos were taken at Cape Horn.

Travel & Portrait photography


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