Livingston Island is an Antarctic island, part of the South Shetland Islands with an area of 798 km2 (308 sq mi). It is where many of Bulgaria's Antarctic bases are, and a base for Bulgarian exploration of the Antarctic.
Livingston Island was discovered by Englishman William Smith on February 19, 1819, and in the years that followed, the island became a centre for the exploitation of living marine resources. There are cabins, boats, and other artifacts from the 19th century of American and English sealers from this era. The island also has the largest concentration of historic or symbolic places in Antarctica. South Georgia has more, but it is not part of Antarctica as it's above the 60°S line.
The islands are now protected under the Antarctic treaty, and now the only human impacts include the three bases (plus one on an offshore island), and tourism.
The climate of Livingston Island falls under the category of maritime Antarctic and temperatures are fairly constant. It rarely exceeds 3° C in summer and only drope slightly below –11° C during winter. However, the island is notorious for its bad weather, which is highly variable, windy, and as once was described by Australian mountaineer Damien Gildea, "Livingston got just about the worst weather in the world".
Tourists arrive mainly in cruise ships, and are landed by Zodiac rigid inflatable boats to walk along designated trails led by tourist guides and enjoy picturesque scenery and wildlife.
Zodiac boats are the preferred means of local sea transport, being particularly suitable for navigation among floating ice and landing at places lacking port facilities. Naturally, this is only possible in summer as the sea surface is partially or completely frozen in ice over one metre (three feet) thick in winter.
See and do
Cruise ships visiting Hannah Point occasionally make a 12-km (7-mi) sightseeing detour to the Bulgarian base, where the tourists can visit the Livingston Island Museum, the old and new chapels of St. Ivan Rilski – the first Eastern Orthodox edifice in Antarctica, consecrated in February 2003- and the Monument to the Cyrillic Script erected on Pesyakov Hill in March 2018. Livingston Island has some particular relationship with the Cyrillic alphabet as the modern system for the romanization of Bulgarian was developed in 1995 for use in Bulgarian-related place names on the island by the Antarctic Place-names Commission, and later became official for Bulgaria, the UK, the USA and the UN.
- 1 Cámara Base (Base Cámara). An Argentine research station located in the northern foothills of La Morenita Hill, at Menguante Cove in Half Moon Island, just off the east coast.
- 2 Juan Carlos I Antarctic Base (Base Antártica Española Juan Carlos Primero). A Spanish base opened in January 1988 and named after former Spanish king Juan Carlos I.
- 3 Shirreff Base (Cape Shirreff Field Station). An American seasonal base, and only operates during the summer season. It was founded in 1996, and is on the east side of Cape Shirreff.
- 4 St. Kliment Ohridski Base (База Св. Климент Охридски, Ohridski Base). This Bulgarian base was founded in 1988. In 1993 by decree of President Zhelyu Zhelev, it was named in honour of St. Kliment Ohridski.
- 5 Williams Point. It was this point that marked the discovery of the South Shetland Islands in 1819 by William Smith. Weirdly, Smith named the point after himself in 1820. Today, not much is there, but there is a Bulgarian flag marking the point.
- Cámara Lighthouse (near Cámara Base). A 9- to 12-metre lighthouse constructed of fibreglass. It's shaped as a cylindrical tower with a balcony and light, and is powered by solar power.
- Cyrillic Script Monument (on 1 Pesyakov Hill). A monument erected under a joint Bulgarian-Mongolian project at the St. Kliment Ohridski Base base on 3 March 2018.
- 6 Lame Dog Hut (includes the Livingston Island Museum). The first Bulgarian established building in Antarctica, which houses the Livington Island Museum, a branch of the Bulgarian National Historical Museum. It is the oldest preserved building on the island, and an Antarctic heritage site.
- 7 St. Ivan Rilski Chapel (St. John of Rila Chapel, Bulgarian: Параклис Свети Иван Рилски). A Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church named after St. Ivan Rilski (patron of the Bulgarians) and the southernmost Eastern Orthodox building of worship in the world. The foundations were first laid out in 2001, but later moved in 2011.
- 8 Liverpool Beach. A wildlife haven of Livingston Island, where many penguins and sea-lions wander around with little to no human impact. The beach is also ice-free too, making it one of the few locations on the island where there is no ice.
- 9 Argentina Glacier (Lóbulo Argentina). A glacier that flows northeast from Hurd Dome to Argentina Bay, a tributary of South Bay. It was named after a Spanish Antarctic expedition based on the name of the bay of the same name in 1995.
- 10 Berkovitsa Glacier. A glacier measuring 4 km by 2.8 km, northeast of Casanovas Peak and northwest of Snow Peak. It flows to the northeast into the Heroe Bay on the Drake Strait between Cape Remetalk to the northwest and Cape Avitohol to the southeast. The glacier flows northeast into Heroe Bay between Cape Avitohol and Cape Remetalk and is named after the town of Berkovitsa in northwestern Bulgaria.
- 11 Boyana Glacier. A 3-km by 1.6-km glacier named after the neighbourhood of Boyana, in Sofia. The glacier is bounded by Vazov Rock on the west, St. Naum Peak, Starosel Gate, Silistra Knoll and Kotel Gap on the north, and Christoff Cliff on the east.
- 12 Charity Glacier. A glacier that is just north of Barnard Point. It was named in 1958 after the brig Charity under Captain Charles H. Barnard (1781-1840), which was part of the US sealing fleet that operated in the waters around the South Shetland Islands between 1820 and 1821.
- 13 Contell Glacier. A southwest flowing glacier that is 2 km by 0.74 km.
- 14 Debelt Glacier (ледник Дебелт). A 3-km by 1.5-km glacier flowing southeast towards Moon Bay between Edinburgh Hill and Helis Nunatak.
- 15 Dobrudzha Glacier (ледник Добруджа). A glacier in the Tangra Mountains to the north by Ruse Peak and Asen Peak, flowing in a southeasterly direction into Bransfieldstrasse. It was named in 2004 after Dobrogea, a historical landscape in present-day Bulgaria and Romania.
- 16 Huntress Glacier. A 7-km by 3.7-km glacier that flows into the head of False Bay. It was named in 1958 after the American schooner Huntress.
- 17 Huron Glacier. A 8.9-km by 4.1-km glacier that flows east towards Moon Bay. It was named 1958 after the US sealer Huron under Captain John Davis, who operated in the waters around the South Shetland Islands in two summer Antarctic campaigns between 1820 and 1822.
- 18 Iskar Glacier (Искарски ледник). A glacier that flows northwards towards Bruix Cove. The glacier is named after the Iskar River in Bulgaria.
- 19 Johnsons Glacier. A 1.8-km by 2.3-km wide glacier on Hurd Peninsula, which provides overland access from the Spanish base Juan Carlos I base to the interior of eastern Livingston Island.
- 20 Kaliakra Glacier.
- 21 Kamchiya Glacier.
- 22 Las Palmas Glacier.
- 23 Macy Glacier.
- 24 Magura Glacier (ледник).
- 25 Medven Glacier.
- 26 Panega Glacier.
- 27 Pautalia Glacier.
- 28 Perunika Glacier. A nice crescent-shaped glacier measuring 8 km by 3 km, named after Perunika in southern Bulgaria. It is to the east of Pimpirev Glacier, south of Saedinenie Snowfield, southwest of Kaliakra Glacier, west of Huron Glacier and north of the Balkan Snowfield.
- 29 Peshtera Glacier.
- 30 Pimpirev Glacier.
- 31 Prespa Glacier.
- 32 Ropotamo Glacier.
- 33 Rose Valley Glacier.
- 34 Sea Lion Glacier.
- 35 Sopot Ice Piedmont.
- 36 Srebarna Glacier.
- 37 Strandzha Glacier.
- 38 Struma Glacier. A 4.8-km by 1.5-km glacier bordered by Melnik Ridge to the north, Yankov Gap to the west, and Bowles Ridge to the south, and flows eastward to Moon Bay, reaching south of Sindel Point and just north of Elemag Point. It was mapped by Bulgarian scientists during surveys of the Tangra Mountains in 2004-2005 and in 2009. It was named in 2004 after the Struma River in southwestern Bulgaria.
- 39 Tundzha Glacier. A 4.5-km by 14-km glacier bounded by Snow Peak on the west, Teres Ridge on the east, and the watershed between the Drake and Bransfield Straits on the south, it flows north to Hero Bay, where it empties into two tributaries between Avitohol Point and Siddons Point. It was named after the Tundja River in Bulgaria in 2005.
- 40 Urdoviza Glacier (ледник Урдовиза). A 2.8-km by 3-km wide glacier on the east side of the John Paul II Peninsula. The glacier flows east from the eastern slopes of Oryahovo Heights to Stoyanov Cove where it joins between Sandanski Point and Agüero Point. The glacier was named in 2005 after a cape on the Bulgarian Black Sea.
- 41 Verila Glacier.
The northeasternmost slopes of Tangra Mountains between Elena Peak and Renier Point, together with the adjacent portion of Sopot Ice Piedmont, are a popular site for backcountry skiing and climbing, with skiers landed by Zodiac boats from cruise ships visiting Half Moon Island's vicinity.
Buy, eat and drink
The only places where you'll be able to have food or drinks is at the base stations, though they may not be available to you. Otherwise, your tour organiser would probably have something prepared for you.
Your tour organiser will likely have some arrangements for you. Otherwise, there are some wild camps out here, on top of the bases.