Will we, won´t we?

Trip Start Jan 19, 2006
Trip End Jan 19, 2007

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Flag of Antarctica  ,
Friday, November 17, 2006

I will endeavour to describe some of what we have seen, but photographs are really the best way to see what I am rambling on about. We weren´t sure if Antarctica would fulfil our expectations as we had seen the photos and programmes before. By the end of the trip you will get our honest opinion on whether we were glad we came or not!

We go to bed last night wondering if we will really get the opportunity to land on the great white continent today and pray the weather continues to pretty good.

We decide to get up at 4.45 for a sunrise we missed a couple of hours ago! The sky is completely blue and we are surrounded by icebergs. We have truly arrived in Antarctica.

Back to bed for a bit we wake up shortly after keen to see whats next. The icebergs are getting bigger and many are tabular literally, as the name implies, huge flat surfaces rising from the sea. This is the only place in the world you can see them. The sea temperature is -1.5 just .3 above freezing. It almost feels warm outside though.

After breakfast we can see mountains in the distance as we approach the Antarctic peninsula, the great white continent, at last.

We have another geology lecture about the types of rocks we can expect to see most of which will be intrusive igueous rocks like granite and lots of volcanic stuff. Apparently the most active tectonics in the world are here which you wouldn´t necessarily imagine.

Briefing on Brown Bluff (63 degrees 32´S, 56 degrees 55, W) our intended first, and possibly last, landing on Antarctica.
Ice-capped flat topped mountain, 745m with a prominent cliff of reddish brown volcanic rock on the north face 9 miles south of Hope Bay on the East side of Tabarin Peninsula, at the NE end of the Antarctic Peninsula. The descriptive name was applied by the FIDS (the British Antarctic Survey previously) following their survey in 1946.

We are told to expect Gentoo and Adelie penguins here as there are very large nesting colonies.

On the way we pass Esperanza the site of an Argentinian base. Apparently they ship out pregnant women out here so they give birth to Antarctic citizens. They reckon this will entitle them to more claim on this land should it ever be divided up. Complete lunacy and I hope it is never divided up.

Out to the first landing in perfect weather conditions we pass fantastic ice formations with arcs and holes in the bergs. We step for the first time on our seventh and final continent. We have a British flag with us that Dave mum got his dad to bring over so we can claim our own bit of territory too! We have 3 hours on land most of which is spent watching the penguins behaviour which varies from hilarious to interesting. Hundreds of penguins are sitting on stone nests guarding and heating their eggs. Their partner is either off feeding or pinching stones from neighbours nests. This is very amusing to watch as they all steal off each other constantly. Apparently there was a study once where they painted 3 stone nests different colours. By the end of the breeding season the nests for pretty much equally all 3 colours! Some of our fellow travellers see the leopard seal patrolling the beach actually kill a penguin and swim off with it in its blood covered mouth. We saw a few dead penguins either too old or some left after the seals have eaten their meat.

We walk around the landing site having plenty of time to watch and photograph everything and I do the videoing watching the penguins porpoise, waddle, fall over and toboggan on their fat tummies. Absolutely incredible. We are even warm while we watch it all as its so sunny!

We all try and be the last to go back on board but lunch beckons and penguin watching means you build up an appetite. We lift anchor and continue to our next site and we hear that we are going further south as we pass through thin sheet ice. Outside the icebergs are getting bigger as they have broken off the Ross Ice Shelf.

Even more exciting our port hole is now open in our cabin as we are in calmer waters. So it no longer feels like night 24 hours a day (my excuse for sleeping so much anyway).
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