One Million steps and few thousand more travel blog

On the side of Madder Cliffs

Adele Penguins

Enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey

Madder cliffs from a distance

Adele feeding chick

Gentoo penguins laying low

Shiver me timbers

Ocean Nova from the top of the cliffs

Having taken off in a small jet from Punta Arenas, we landed on a gravel runway of a Chilean controlled airbase. The reason why the flight landing is so weather related is because there is only a few lights to mark the runway and if they cannot be seen from 2km's the flight will be abandoned and returned. I cried when we hit the gravel as I knew that we were in Antartica albeit on the South Shetland Isles and the only stopping us now, would be the ability to get onto the ship via Zodiaks. Walking from the Chielan airbase, through a Russian base and finally boarding the Zodiaks to Ocean Nova our new home for the next 5 days. It is magical we were chased to the boats by penguins catching krill. We landed and were put on the executive deck 4 in suite 401.

Following the briefing where we were introduced to the team and received safety briefing and practiced an emergency evacuation, we had a wonderful evening meal and we were on our way south. Up at 04:15, so excited, went to the bridge and chatted with captain. This trip was the fist this season as no other vessel had yet reached it and it was looking promising

The ship rolled quite a lot during the night as we headed to Paulet Island a historic place where both Scott and Schackleton came croppers but also an Norwegian called Norsjkmen also had a tale of an epic escape.

Our first landing however was not to be as the ice closed in around us and the fog came down. So we learnt that there always had to be at least 3 alternatives as we were very much controlled by weather and sea conditions.

Later in the day headed to Madder Cliffs, had our first landing, in snow and wind. Madder cliffs had a colony of Adele penguins on the cliffs rising over 1km up. We loved it, trying to clamber through deep snow to see there beautiful creatures. To make it even more wonderful they had eggs, chicks of about a week or two old. It felt just like you would dream of Antarctica. I have taken over 1500 photos each picture perfect, even, if I don't say so myself. Had a wonderful, heart fuelling 2.5 hours walking life infront of eyes not 2m's away.

Finally being dragged back to the ship for hot Choclate with Tia Maria was wonderful. Felt delighted, euphoric and tingling lay frozen all at the same. This is what we came for.

Had a lecturer on tomorrow's planned agenda, followed by fabulous meal and watching humpback whales frolicking in the oceans. My emotions overflowed, this is heaven. Off to be a 22:00 to get up at 4:00 again for tomorrow's adventures and photographs. Alison is being very patient with me, but I love it.

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