¡Muy buenos días Antárticos!

Trip Start Oct 05, 2012
Trip End Apr 01, 2013

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Flag of Antarctica  , Antarctica,
Saturday, January 12, 2013

There are worse ways to be woken up than with a reminder that you are in Antarctica, and that you have actually set foot on part of the continent. There are also not many days when you can wake up and find yourself anchored in a bay with floating icebergs surrounding you and set against a glacier backdrop. But this was how Day 4 began...!!

Our morning landing was scheduled for a place called Hydrurga Rocks, home to small colonies of Chinstrap penguins and also a likely site to spot seals. The sun was shining and there was no wind as we made our way by zodiac from the ship - very different weather to the previous day thankfully!! The island was very small so easy to cover in a short period. The main attraction was the various different Chinstrap colonies, where we saw a number of very young chicks being fed by their parents. Each colony had a very different character which became obvious as we observed each of them. The first one was very calm, set on the highest point of the island and looking down on the others. The second was full of very noisy adults (male most likely!) and the third a much smaller, quieter colony on the most exposed part of the island. Just watching each of the colonies was so amusing - penguins flirting, chasing each other, nesting, stealing - even although sitting in the snow inevitably meant a very wet bum as the snow soaked through my ski pants!! It was during this that I managed to capture my favourite penguin photo of the whole trip - penguins dancing, or 'happy feet' as I like to call it!!

There were also some very lazy Weddell seas sleeping on the islands. They weren't particularly bothered by us, and all they really did was raise a head every once in a while, perhaps winking as they looked curiously at the many people snapping away at them.

After the morning activities, the ship set sail again for our next destination. None of us knew how far we had to go, only that we would be climbing to the top of a glacier so we could see a spectacular view along a channel which was formed by the Antarctic peninsula on one side, and islands on the other. There then followed much guessing as we sailed along as to which of the many glaciers we saw which we felt were scalable. We were, of course, completely wrong and were focusing our attentions on completely the wrong side of the ship to where Danco Island - our destination - was actually located!!

The sun had disappeared during the sailing, but with no rain or snow. We landed on the main beach, amidst many gentoo penguins who were hanging around on the shoreline. There then followed a steep-ish hike from the beach through layered snow up to the top of the glacier. This went alongside (but not on) some very well formed penguin highways. You can always tell a penguin highway because it is inevitably stained pink or brown from their poo - something to do with the krill or fish they eat. Anyway, it was highly amusing to see them hurrying along as fast as there little legs could take them, and quite often landing on their bellies when they clumsily tripped!!

The view from the top of the Errera Channel was spectacular and well worth the climb up. All around there were huge glaciers visible, mostly on the Antarctic peninsula but also on the islands in the channel. Huge icebergs floated in the channel with the most beautiful turquoise water around the submerged part of its base. There were even penguin colonies located towards the top of the glacier - very exposed, and a location where they must truly get battered during any storms.

Coming back down was a whole lot more fun as we could do most of it on our bums, sliding down through the snow!! Avoiding the penguin highways of course, and any stray penguins who may have found themselves slightly too far from their colonies. I chose to walk a little more as the view over the Channel was just too nice to rush, and I was also keen to see the colonies further away from the path as they had easily the most picturesque spot.

Reaching the beach again wasn't the end of the landing though as the crew had spotted whales in the channel and we did a short zodiac cruise around the base of the icebergs. During this, my boat we lucky enough to see 2 different humpback whales, one of which dived down in the most perfect position as it flicked its tail right in front of the Ushuaia, which I managed to capture on my camera!! Very lucky indeed...and a great end to another fantastic day!!
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dishy on

Writing from the frozen tundra that is Fife, disappointing that no polar bears have yet been spotted on your travels. Once again though some sparkling words and fotos. Over and out from igloo number 3!!

curlsandtales on

Still on the look out for polar bears down here. But if none are spotted I am reliably informed that August is the best time to go and see them up in a German sounding place in Greenland...now there's a thought!!! Xx

Pigwig on

You're making me fall in love with this place ; )

curlsandtales on

Join the club... Xx

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