Antarctica 2008-2009

Antarctica Travel Blog

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Adelie penguin and chicks

This trip was terrific in so many ways.  Penguins were sitting on eggs or had young recently hatched in the rookeries.  We saw primarily three of the 17 species of penguins: Adelie, Chinstrap, and Gentoo.  The ship we were on, home for the duration of the trip, was the M/S Andrea, a small vessel holding about 90 passengers.  We made many landings in the Zodiacs, sometimes 3 in one day to different destinations and actually got to walk on the continent itself rather than just the outlying islands. 

The Drake Passage crossing was less than fun but we were assured it was a calm crossing.  Before boarding the ship, I looked on u-tube to see some previous crossings and they were critical to my mindset as I figured they filmed it and they survived to show it on a video so anything less hazardous should not be worrysome.

Wedell Seal at Brown Bluff
  Logic failed me on the return crossing which was not quite as smooth as going south and I spent much of the two-day crossing miserable and in bed, in spite of the dramamine.  Many people had "patches" behind their ears to avoid seasickness... they seemed to be working for them, though many of the crew and staff were also sick on the return crossing.

The penguins were wonderful, not afraid of us though we were careful not to encroach on their nesting areas.  The noise and stink cannot be conveyed in photos but suffice it to say that you did not want to stand downwind of the crowded nesting areas and 15 feet was a safe distance to stay out of their "shooting excrement".  It was delightful to have tour guides with the passion and dedication to teach us about the ecology and politics of the area as well as the habits of the animals themselves.

Small Gentoo nesting colony
  The diversity of islands was not tremendous until you came to Deception Island, a volcanic caldera and there the contrast was stark... no glacials formations and steam coming up off of the water in some areas. The remains of both a whaling processing plant and a later British scientific station were both visible.  This was not a penguin area but there were a few different birds nesting in the cliffs around the caldera, which we entered by way of an opening called Neptunes Bellows.

Too much to write about without publishing a book, but well worth dealing with the cold, the discomfort of crossing the Drake Passage, and climbing in and out of zodiacs for a totally uniqe and memorable experience.  BTW the food was really great on the small ship, as was the service.

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Adelie penguin and chicks
Adelie penguin and chicks
Wedell Seal at Brown Bluff
Wedell Seal at Brown Bluff
Small Gentoo nesting colony
Small Gentoo nesting colony
Port Lockroy, a British run post o…
Port Lockroy, a British run post …
Deception Island, inside the calde…
Deception Island, inside the cald…
One of many late-night sunsets
One of many late-night sunsets
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