Arriving in the South Sandwich region, our first stop is Zavadovski Island, a small volcanic island and home to one of the world’s largest penguin colonies. Almost a million breeding pairs of chinstrap penguins can be found here, in the shadow of the recently active Mount Asphyxia volcano. The island was discovered in 1819 by Russian Antarctic explorer Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and named for Lieutenant Ivan Zavodovski, the captain of this ship, the Vostok.
Discovered in 1775 by Captain James Cook, Saunders Island was named for Sir Charles Saunders, First Lord of the Admiralty. Saunders is home to another active stratovolcano, Mount Michael, at almost a kilometer in height, which last erupted in 2012. In the crater is a recurrent lava lake, one of only a few in the world. Over half the island is covered by a permanent ice cap, but we will still find penguin colonies on the rugged shores.