Visitor Management Plan: Godthul

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(For the Visitor Management Plan disclaimer, copyright and funding click here.)

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Echo Lake
Echo Lake


(Sketch Map. Not for navigation purposes). Download large size jpg of map  here.
(Sketch Map. Not for navigation purposes). Download large size jpg of map here.

Latitude: 54˚18`S

Longitude: 36˚17’ W

(Eastern shore of Barff Peninsula.)

Key Features

  • Historic interest
  • Gentoos
  • Reindeer


  • Topography:
Godthul is a 3km long harbour between Cape George to the south and Long Point to the north. The head walls of a glacial cirque form a natural cliff amphitheatre which surrounds the harbour and extensive scree slopes rise to a skyline of 500m high jagged mountain ridges. Nestling at the foot of the head wall are two lakes, ‘Echo Lake’ and ‘Lake Aviemore’. The former lies at the head of the harbour and feeds a waterfall that plunges 30 m into a tidal pool. The latter lies a short distance inland above the landing beach.

  • Fauna:
Confirmed breeders: gentoo penguin (Pygoscelis papua), light-mantled sooty albatross (Phoebetria palpebrate), southern and northern giant petrels (Macronectes giganteus and Macronectes halli), white-chinned petrel (Procellaria aequinoctialis), kelp gull (Larus dominicanus), brown skua (Catharacta lonnbergi), Antarctic tern (Sterna vittatae georgiae), South Georgia pintail (Anas georgica georgica), snowy sheathbill (Chionis alba), elephant seal (Mirounga leonina) and fur seal (Arctocephalus gazella).
Suspected breeders: Wilson’s storm-petrel (Oceanites oceanicus).
Introduced land mammals: Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus) and reindeer (Rangifer tarandus).

  • Flora:
The steep slopes along the coast and on sections of the upper amphitheatre are covered in tussac. On the gentler rolling areas a mosaic of Festuca grassland and mire and bog communities mix with extensive areas of grazed tussac, moss and Poa annua.

  • Other:
Relics from a whaling shore depot are found near the landing beach and are partially covered by tussac. Whale bones are strewn along the shoreline between the depot and the bluffs at the north end of the beach.

Visitor Impacts

  • Known impacts:

  • Potential impacts:
Disturbance of wildlife and whaling artefacts.

Landing Requirements

  • Ships:*
Ships carrying 200 or fewer passengers. One ship at a time.
Maximum 2 ships per day (midnight to midnight).

  • Visitors:
No more than 100 visitors ashore at any time, exclusive of expedition guides and leaders. 1 experienced guide per 20 visitors.

∗ A ship is defined as a vessel which carries more than 12 passengers.

Visitor Areas

  • Landing Area:
Beach area north of the whaling shore depot relics.

  • Closed Areas:
Closed Area A: the immediate vicinity of the whaling shore depot and related artefacts.
Closed Area B: Giant petrel breeding areas on hill above the north end of the landing beach.

  • Guided Walking Areas:
Hikes to ‘Echo Lake’ start from the grassy slope above the landing beach and should follow the well-marked reindeer track as it traverses the slope west of the whaling shore depot.

  • Free roaming areas:
Beach area to the north of the whaling depot area.
The grassy slopes above the landing beach and whaling depot area, including ‘Lake Aviemore’, with the exception of closed area B. Access to the area above the whaling depot is easiest if you follow one of the several stream beds to the north of the depot, checking first that it is not in use as a gentoo access path.

Visitor Code of Conduct

  • Behaviour Ashore:
Walk slowly and carefully. Maintain a precautionary distance from wildlife and give animals the right-of-way. Increase your distance if any change in behaviour is observed.
Be alert to fur seals hidden in the tussac.
Be aware of giant petrel nests, keeping a minimum distance of 10 metres.
Keep out of gentoo penguin access routes between the colony and the beach.
Avoid inadvertently causing reindeer to stampede through the gentoo colonies.
Do not remove or disturb any historic artefacts.

  • Cautionary notes:
Reindeer tracks can traverse muddy, slippery and steep terrain.
Minimise use of ship lights at nightfall to reduce risk of bird strikes.

  • Biosecurity:
All landings must comply with GSGSSI biosecurity measures and self-audit checks must be carried out prior to landing.

Mixed vegetation on the slopes above the landing beach
Mixed vegetation on the slopes above the landing beach
  • © Copyright GSGSSI 2013. (Click here to read GSGSSI Disclaimer)