© Don Fink/Getty images

King George Island

King George Island, the largest of the South Shetlands and the first stop in the Antarctic for many tourists, is loaded with stations. Less than 10% of the island’s 1295 sq km is ice free, yet it supports year-round bases maintained by Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Poland, Russia, South Korea and Uruguay, all connected by more than 20km of roads and tracks. There are summer-only Dutch, Ecuadorian, German, Peruvian and US bases. The stations, some within walking distance of one another, are here because King George Island is so accessible from South America. Thus it’s a smart spot for countries to build stations and perform scientific research, thereby earning the status of consultative party to, or full member of, the Antarctic Treaty.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout King George Island.