Grytviken, South Georgia

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As ghost towns go, this one’s hard to beat. Located on the remote island of South Georgia in the southern Atlantic Ocean about 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) east of Argentina, Grytviken was founded in 1904 as a Norwegian whaling and sealing station and occupied for 60 years. Today, most visitors to this wild and wind-tossed island, now a British overseas territory, arrive by cruise ship or expedition vessel on itineraries to Antarctica and are greeted by the rusted remnants of its seafaring past, a century-old church, a movie theater and a museum that puts the harsh realities of whaling’s heyday into perspective.Grytviken is famous as well for having been the place where British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton plotted the rescue of the expedition team from his ship Endurance after it became trapped in shifting pack ice in 1915 and sank. Set against a backdrop of rocky coastline and rugged 2,000- to 3,000-meter (6,500- to 9,600-foot) peaks, the port is also a gateway to the wildlife viewing for which South Georgia is famous. Penguins, seals and seabirds flourish here in populations numbering in the tens of thousands—and some wander amid the ruins of this maritime settlement, making for great photo ops.