Thanks to their spectacular scenery, abundant wildlife and proximity to Tierra del Fuego, the South Shetlands are one of Antarctica’s most visited areas. This major group of islands is just half a day’s cruise across the Bransfield Strait from the Antarctic Peninsula, and all cruises stop here.
The South Shetlands stretch 540km from northeast to southwest and include four major groupings as well as 150-odd islets, skerries and rocks. The islands are about 80% glaciated and cover 3688 sq km. The archipelago’s highest point is Smith Island’s Mt Foster (2105m), first climbed in 1996.
Most distinctive of the South Shetlands is Deception Island, a beautiful ‘restless’ volcano that was the site of a whaling station and the first Antarctic flight.