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Kerguelen Archipelago is a group of islands in French Southern and Antarctic Lands.


Grande Terre, the main island, measures 150 km east to west and 120 km north to south. It is very rocky and home to a permanent weather base - Port Aux Francais. The highest peak is Mont Ross, which is on the west side of the island and has an elevation of 1850 m. It is covered by Cook Glacier. The island has numerous peninsulas islets.

The following is a list of some of the most important satellite islands:

  • Île Foch in the north is the largest, with an area of 206.2 km². The highest point is 687 m at Pyramide Mexicaine.
  • Île Saint-Lanne Gramont, also in the north, is the second largest, with an area of 45.8 km². It is 480 m at the highest point and is located at 48°55′S 69°12′E).
  • Île du Port, also in the north in the Golfe des Baliniers, is the third largest with an area of 43.0 km², with a highest altitude of 340 m.
  • Île de l'Ouest (west, about 40 km²)
  • Île Longue (southeast, about 40 km²)
  • Îles Nuageuses (northwest)
  • Île de Castries 48°41′S 69°29′E
  • Île Leygues (north)
  • Île Howe (north) 48°50′S 69°25′E
  • Île Violette 49°07′S 69°40′E
  • Île aux Rennes (southeast, area 36.7 km², altitude 199 m, 49°32′S 69°54′E)


  • Port-aux-Français


The Kerguelen Islands or the Kerguelen Archipelago is a group of rocky islands in the southern Indian Ocean. It is very far away from any civilization and was discovered in 1772 by a French expedition. Currently is a territory of France and is home to a weather base.

The Kerguelen Islands are located at 49°15′S 69°35′E. This places the archipelago just outside of the Antarctic circle. The main island, a very rocky place is known as Grande Terre, was originally called Desolation Island, a testimony to just how remote it is. Grande Terre is 6,675 km² and is surrounded by at least another 300 smaller islands and islets, forming an archipelago of 7,215 km². Together, the Kerguelen Islands are slightly larger than the state of Delaware. The climate is cold and very windy with very rough seas.


French, although most research staff will have at least some knowledge of English and possibly other languages.

Get in[edit]

This requires careful planning, as the islands are not easy to get to.

Tourists can book a cabin in the base support ship Marion Dufresne for 8 789 € per person for a double cabin, or 17 340 € for a single cabin.[1] There are apparently four trips open to tourists per year.

The trip leaves from Réunion and takes about 28 days, half of them at sea and half on land. It covers 9,000 km in the Indian Ocean, visiting three or four islands in this order: Crozet, Kerguelen, and Amsterdam before returning to Réunion. If scientists need to go there, the ship stops near Saint Paul but nobody is permitted to set foot on land.

Although very infrequent, a few small cruise ships have made stops in Kerguelen. Heritage Expeditions, [2], offers a cruise visiting Kerguelen and other South Indian ocean islands in late 2012. Quark Expeditions has also visited the island a couple of times, but the Russian scientific ship they've used retired after the Dec 11/Jan 12 voyage and they aren't planning a similar voyage in summer 12/13, but check in the future.

It is almost impossible to visit any of Grande Terre's satellite islands including Île Foch.

Get around[edit]


See[edit][add listing]

Historic localities

There are also a number of historic localities, all on Grande Terre (see also the main map):

  • Anse Betsy (historic geomagnetic station at 49°10′S 70°13′E), on Baie Accessible, on the north coast of Péninsule Courbet. At this site, an astronomic and geomagnetic observatory was erected on October 26, 1874 by a German research expedition led by Georg Gustav Freiherr von Schleinitz.
  • Armor (Base Armor)
  • Baie de l'Observatoire (historic geomagnetic station at 49°21′S 70°12′E), just west of Port-Aux-Français, also at the south coast of Péninsule Courbet, northern shore of Golfe du Morbihan. A station was erected at this site by the German Antarctic Expedition led by Erich Dagobert von Drygalski (1902 to 1903).
  • Cabane Port-Raymond (scientific camp at 49°20′S 69°49′E), at the head of a fjord cutting off Péninsule Courbet from the south
  • Cap Ratmanoff (geomagnetic station at 49°14′S 70°34′E, the easternmost point of Kerguelen)
  • La Montjoie (scientific camp at 48°59′S 68°50′E), on the south of Baie Rocheuse, northern west coast
  • Molloy (Pointe Molloy), former observatory 10 km west of later Port-Aux-Français, at the south coast of Péninsule Courbet, northern shore of Golfe du Morbihan. An American expedition led by G. P. Ryan erected a station at this site on September 7, 1874.
  • Port Bizet (seismographic station at 49°31′12 S°69′54), on the north coast of Île Longue)
  • Port Christmas (historic geomagnetic station at 48°41′S 69°03′E), on Baie de l'Oiseau, Péninsule Loranchet, extreme northwest. The place was named by James Cook, who discovered the islands and who anchored there on Christmas Day, 1797.
  • Port Couvreux (formerly a whaling station, an experimental sheep farm and a geomagnetic station, at 49°17′S 69°42′E), on Baie du Hillsborough, on the southeast coast of Presqu'île Bouquet de la Grye. From 1912 sheep were bred to create an economic basis for settlement, but the attempt had to be abandoned in 1931.
  • Port Curieuse (harbor on the West coast at 49°22′S 68°48′E), on the west coast across Île du l'Ouest. The site was named after ship Curieuse used by Raymond Rallier du Baty on his second visit the islands in 1913 to 1914.
  • Port Douzième (literally Twelfth Port, hut and geomagnetic station at 49°31′S 70°09′E), on the north coast of Presqu'île Ronarch, southern shore of Golfe du Morbihan
  • Port Jeanne d'Arc (former whaling station founded by Norwegian whalers in 1908, and historic geomagnetic station at 49°33′S 69°49′E), in the northwestern corner of Presqu'île Jeanne d'Arc, looking across Passe de Buenos Aires to Île Longue (4 km northeast). The derelict settlement consists of four residential buildings with wooden walls and tin roofs and a barn. One of the buildings was restored in 1977.

Since 1963, 49°22′S 70°14′E just east of Port-aux-Français is a launch site for sounding rockets (mainly Arcas, Dragon and Eridan).


Do[edit][add listing]

There are many interesting animals and plants. These include penguins, seals, Kerguelen cabbages, rabbits, cats and fish.

Eat[edit][add listing]

There are about 3500 sheep on the Grande Terre, so look forward to lots of mutton. In addition, there is plentiful Kerguelen cabbage, native only to Kerguelen. Rabbits and salmon have also been introduced. They also eat penguins occasionally.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Stay safe[edit]

The population of these islands varies, but is rarely over 120. Most are French scientists and weather watchers. There is virtually no risk of crime. The only likely dangers are storms and getting lost.

Get out[edit]

The only way off the Kerguelen Islands is by boat as there are no airports. They also use helicopters time to time for researchers coming and going within a week.Create category

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