Anne & Tom's Argentina & Antarctica Adventure travel blog

Speeding along in much calmer water

Our first sight of land

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Ice

The narrow channel into the caldera of Deception Island

A hint of blue sky

Into the Zodiac for our first landing

Barren

"Captain" Penguin

Neptune's Window - a climb from the shore

View from Neptune's Window

Our ship at anchor in the protected harbor

All that remains from the whaling days

Back on board

Sailing to Half Moon Island

View from the bridge

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Away to shore

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Tom is ready for the penguins

A panoramic view

Chinstrap penguin

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Good harbor

Anne had to remove a layer - it was getting "hot."

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Nesting penguins

closer

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They made loud sounds

Anne got stuck in the snow

Sliding down the hill

Anne slides down the hill too!

They are so cute

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A singing trio with conductor

Glorious

Do you see why they are called Chinstrap?

Neko Harbor

On the Antarctic Continent

Gentoo penguins

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Ready to go fishing

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Nesting gentoos

A closer view of the stone nests

Our fellow passengers slide down a hill on their bottoms

A weddell seal

Paradise Bay zodiac ride

Big icebergs

The sun was brilliant

It was Thanksgiving

 

Seals in the water

A panorama

Movie Clips - Playback Requirements - Problems?

(MP4 - 16.77 MB)

Zodiac to Half Moon Island and penguins

(MP4 - 7.74 MB)

Ice in Paradise Bay


Antarctica - Land Ho Tuesday and Deception & Half Moon Islands Wednesday Nov 22 - 23 2011

Just around dinner time we sighted our first outcropping of land. The seas had calmed considerably as we had entered the shelter of the South Shetland Islands. These islands are not a part of the Antarctic Continent and are separated from it by the Bransfield Straight which we had just entered. This archipelago is composed of volcanic rock, and their spiky peaks are heavily glaciated.

Our first landing took place on Wednesday morning after the ship had negotiated the narrow entrance (called Neptune's Bellows) to "Deception Island." This island is actually a still-active volcano with the harbor in the caldera created about 10,000 years ago when huge quantities of magma formed a chamber that collapsed and was flooded with sea water. Because the island looks like a complete land formation from the sea, it got its name when the entrance was discovered. Of course, it is an ideal harbor and the flatness of the water was a welcome surprise after the rough seas of the Drake Passage. Anne and Tom were in group one (of 3 groups) and were whisked off the boat in the landing craft Zodiacs.

Because of the protective nature of this island, it was a haven for whalers and seal hunters and there was still evidence of that activity in rotting boats and broken casks that littered the shore. Hunting and processing of whale oil ended in the early 1930's when whale oil was not sought after and was no longer a profitable commodity. A climb to Neptune's Window would have given a view of the Antarctic Peninsula, but the clouds obscured this view of the mainland.

After lunch, we went on a second landing and in brilliant sunshine, we met our first penguins. Half Moon Island is home to over 3,000 breeding chinstrap penguins. It was a fantastic afternoon!

Antarctica - Thursday - Neko Harbor & Paradise Bay Nov 24, 2011

This morning we set foot on the Antarctic Continent. The sun was brilliant on the snow-capped mountains and we were greeted by gentoo penguins that flocked on the beach. There was also a Weddell seal sunning itself on a patch of snow. We were so fortunate to have such spectacular weather with the temperatures in the mid-30's.

After a short ship ride to Paradise Bay and another great lunch we decided to take the zodiac cruise around this bay that had icebergs as large as the ship. Unfortunately, all 11 zodiacs were out on this excursion and there were only 9 guides, so we had an apparently mute seaman to drive our boat rather than an expert guide and we missed any descriptions that would have been given about the bay and the surrounding glaciers and birds. He also got lost. Still, we got to get up close to the Petzval Glacier. There were stretches of pack ice that we had to maneuver through to get back to the ship. Be sure to watch the video from the zodiac. Dinner that night was turkey in honor of Thanksgiving.

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