Grytviken is the whaling station made famous by Shackleton's reunion with civilization on South Georgia after losing his ship, the Endurance, to Antarctic pack ice in 1915. Toast "Bring 'em Back Shack" at his gravesite in a small cemetery overlooking the bay. Although the grave of Ernest Shackleton can be found in the little graveyard here, Grytviken is not the whaling station where he finally found help after his epic journey. This was at the nearby Stromness whaling station.
The usual way to arrive is by ship.
The abandoned whaling station has undergone a project to remove all asbestos and dangerous collapsing buildings and may be explored. The station was active in the whaling industry until the middle of the last century. Other popular visitor destinations include the restored Norwegian church, and the cemetery, which contains the grave of the famous explorer Ernest Shackleton.
- South Georgia Museum. October-March. The museum was established in 1991 and operates in the former whaling station manager's house. Today it is managed by the South Georgia Heritage Trust and provide exhibits about the exploration, whaling and natural history of the island. Most ships visiting the island stop in Grytviken, and the museum is well worth an hour or two of your time. The museum also provides the unique opportunity to talk to staff members about what it is like to spend extended periods living on a remote, sub-Antarctic island.
- Hike up to the reservoir. Located on the hill above the whaling station is a fairly large lake. Footing may be muddy, but the scenery is nice and the view of the bay is excellent. Be aware that terns may begin attacking from the air; if they do it means that you are near their nest and should backtrack until they feel you are a safe distance away.
- Visit Shackleton's grave. The cemetery is on the opposite side of the whaling station from the museum. Shackleton is buried here along with many of the whalers who died on South Georgia.
- Visit Shackleton's cross. The cross is located at the end of King Edward Point, beyond the British Base. A trail to the cross is fairly easy to follow. While visiting be on the lookout for the very territorial fur seals; should one charge you it is best to carry a long stick or tripod with which to tickle its whiskers, which surprisingly deters most attacks.
- Write letters home. There is a mailbox in front of the museum, and stamps and postcards can be purchased in the gift shop. Mail will reach most destinations within two or three weeks.
According to a recent program on BBC Radio 4 the ashes of Frank Wild, Shackleton's right hand man, have been placed alongside Shackleton's grave. Frank Wild was in charge of the men left on Elephant Island for months whilst Shackleton went for help.
There is a small gift shop in the museum that sells books of local interest, posters, and sundry other souvenirs. British pounds, Falklands pounds, Euros, and American dollars will all be accepted, as will Visa and Mastercard (but not AMEX). The Post Office is open upon request 1km away at King Edward Point and may be brought on board larger ships. The Post Office has a range of postcards, stamps, first day covers, South Georgia coins and a few South Georgia Government publications for sale.
You will need to bring your own food.
- King Edward Point. Located a short walk along the harbour from the whaling station.