The South Shetland Islands are the last pieces of land that you will encounter before you arrive at the Antarctic Peninsula. They are found on the other side of the turbulent Drake Passage and in a south-westerly direction from South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.
In a similar way to the South Orkney Islands, this archipelago was named after the Scottish Shetland island group due to the fact that it was Scottish sealer, George Powell, who first discovered them. Part of the reasoning for their names is thought to be because both groups of Antarctic islands lie at an almost identical level of latitude in the south as their Scottish namesakes in the north. Like other areas of the Antarctic; Chile, Argentina and the UK have all tried to claim these islands, however they are included in the Antarctic Treaty and so all claims have been dismissed.
There are over twenty islands in total, including Elephant Island (named due to its shape), King George Island, which is the largest stretch of land in the archipelago, and Deception Island (often used as a port of refuge due to its safe harbour). The first to be discovered was Livingston Island, which on initial sighting, in 1819, constituted the first land to be spotted further south than 60° latitude.
The landscape here is volcanic and past eruptions on certain islands have caused research centres to be abandoned. Despite this, a plethora of wildlife still makes this their home and so you may well spot Gentoo, Chinstrap, Adelie and Macaroni penguins frolicking on the shores, whilst various other seafaring creatures, such as seals and whales, can be seen emerging from the surrounding seas.