"GAP Explorer Nov/Dec 2005 - Yes it sank Nov 2007" Antarctica by Josilver
Antarctica Travel Guide: 1,141 reviews and 2,620 photos
Hello, we are back from antarctica, no we didnt freeze, get eaten by a seal or get pushed into the southern ocean Where does one start when describing the last 10 days.........well..... The first 2 days were spent crossing the Drake passage, we have discovered that neither of us get sea sick Yeh!!!!. Actually the bigger the waves got the better we felt, but I am glad I had the drugs just in case, other people werent so lucky. On the third day we got up really really early to watch the sunrise and see the first icebergs. It first must be said that there is NO darkness here. The sun ¨sets¨at about 11 pm and rises at about 3:30am, but it is still quite light out and we could see everything. Unfortunately it was overcast and the sunrise was not spectacular as hoped, but we did see our first iceberg! This was the very early beginning of a very long day. We reached the Antarctic penninsula and sailed down the west side before stopping at Cuverville island were we had our first landing in the Zodiacs (little rubber boats that fit 12 people plus a driver) This time we landed on the beach and had to step into the water to get out, other times we had to jump over the bow onto slippery rocks with varying degrees of difficulty depending on the weather, on the boats you have to sit on the side and hold onto a rope, this feels some what precarious and I constantly felt like I was about to fall out. Our first landing brought us to this little Gentoo penguin colony. It was quite thick snow and our boots sunk quite deep into it. The penguins were very cool, but it was also nice to see that even they fell over sometimes and landed on their faces. The part of the colony we visited was having a little trouble with the skuas (think sea gulls, but egg stealers, brown, feral, but just as persistant). After lunch, did we mention the food? The food was fantastic and there was just soooo much, every night we had 4 course meals except for the captains dinners when it was 6 courses, it is amazing that we can still walk. Any way back to the pengiuns, in the after noon we landed on Orne island where we saw a chin strap penguin colony sitting on their eggs. they are really cute , they build their nests out of small rocks to lift them out of the snow, but because thaere are not many rocks they spend the whole time stealing rocks from other penquins nests, they have done scientific studies where they have painted the rocks and within an hour not a single rock remained in the same nest. We then went down the Lemaire Channel, which was spectacular, but due to the winds the captain decided not to go further south and we turned around and went to a little place called Paradise Bay................usually a Paradise with glass for water......usually. We waited for the winds to die down, and they did a little bit. It is now about 11pm, we have had our briefing for the landing. This site is actally on Antarctica itself, so it was the first time we set foot on the continent. It is also the site of an Argentinean research station, the Almirante Brown. We went ashore, it was now midnight, the sky was still light The wind was blowing about 65 knots, the snow was being blown around and it was very very cold. SO we trekked to the station. Now it should be said that this station has a past.....the doctor who was stationed there did not want to spend the winter so he burnt down all the buildings and called for a ship to take him home, anywhere but here. Now we know why!!!. But it got worse, much worse. The sea had now whipped up, and was very rough. We still had to get back to the ship which was taking shelter about a km away. Our zodiac drivers (who usually were scientists), first off apologised to us and said we would get wet.as the weather had further deteriorated... Needless to say the ride was rough, the water stung, and in my boat (Jayne) we had to go around twice to land. The poor guys at the bottom of the gangplank got soaked that night because of our boat. It was a very interesting landing. We finally got to bed around 2am, after starting the day at 3.00am.
Next day was spent sailing north around the antarctic penninsula to the east side ( we are one of the only passenger ships that go to the east side into the Weddell sea because no one else is brave enough or manoeverable enough. And the weather is supposed to be better here when it is bad on the west side..... Not this time, we had 4 metre waves and it is the only time we saw our ever genial Captain look stressed. Very stressed, he was smoking on the bridge. We didn´t see him do that again. He is an interesting character that probably desrves a mention, he is originally from Manchester in England and says it is so depressing that it makes people yearn for the wasteland of antarctica rather than go back. He aslo fancys himself as a bit of a comedian and he reminds me of James nesbitt (cold feet) . Any way becuase of the lovely weather minus 3 and a snow storm with lots of icebergs moving around rapidly, the captain felt it prudent to exctract ourselves from the situation and only hours later he heard from another ship that where we had been was completely blocked by ice, so had we not left when we did we may well still be there stuck in the ice waiting to be rescued. Our next landing was at Brown Bluff. It was an Adelie penguin colony and had a few Weddell seals on the beach. It was interesting watching the Adelies all line up at the beach waiting for the first victim to plunge into the sea to get eaten by a leopard seal. They believe that there is safety in numbers, well for the rest of the penguins, generally not the first one. After this our expedition leaders plans were in a bit of disarray due to the weather so they had to search for a new landing, they then discovered Kiness cove, where no ship had ever stopped before, but werent we the lucky ones because it was spectacular, not only were there hundreds of penguins but also 10 Wedell seals. we spent hours watching them waddle around and tobogan up and down the slopes. They were also very curious and came right up to us ( they didnt understand the 5 metre rule) We took lots of pictures and I took a video on my camera, it was worth all the memory I used up. This was to be our last landing. We tried a couple of other sites but the weather was not cooperating, so we headed back across the Drake Passage, a little rougher than before but not too bad. And so, here we are, back in Ushuaia again, about to head out to El Calafate tomorrow. We are considering ditching the Patagonia thing, and trying to stow away on our boat again, which leaves tonight. We wish... Jo and Jayne
- Pros:The most spectacular unpoiled place in the world
- Cons:At risk of being spoilt by us visiting
- In a nutshell:Would go back in a heart beat
Weddell seals (Leptonychotes weddelli) do not eat penguins, but do eat fish, prawns and octopus. They come ashore to... more travel advice
The theory is that we are not to alter the penguins behaviour in any way so if they are walking (waddling, belly... more travel advice
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