First glimps of land, Shackleton and Elephant Island

Elephant Island Travel Blog

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First sighting of land in Antarctica
Sunrise 03:42, sunset 22:11.

Our first glimps of land today, it was Elephant Island in the distance. We also saw our first icebergs. The icebergs in the southern ocean can be really impressive, and lots of them are flat on top, because that's how they fell off the Antarctic continent.

Elephant Island is quite famous as far as Antarctica is concerned, because this was where Ernest Shackleton and his men were forced to winter back in 1916, and where he started his incredible 850 mile sailing in the little open lifeboat James Caird to South Georgia to get help (he did return to save all his men).

We launched the inflatable zodiacs into the water (very calm as you can see in the photos) to take a closer look at the island. We did not land. It was not a place where you could land easily anyway, and one can really appreciate what difficult times those people had back then.
getting closer to land
It was not a hospitable place at all.

If you are interested in Shackleton's adventures, here are some books I have read before and after the trip which are good in my opinion.

  • The Endurance (by Caroline Alexander, Endurance was the name of his ship. This book has many great photographs taken on the trip. This in itself is incredible to me because the photographer Frank Hurley did not have modern compact cameras, he had to carry glass plates and bulky camera equipment, It's sad to see photos of the dogs because they had to be killed at the end.)
  • South (by Sir Ernest Shackleton himself)
  • The Race to the White Continent, voyages to the Antarctic (by Alan Gurney, great book on the history of exploration of Antarctica)
  • Below the Convergence (also by Alan Gurney, a book covering earlier periods 1699-1839)
  • Mrs. Chippy's Last Expedition (by Caroline Alexander, subtitled The remarkable jounral of Shackelton's polar-bound cat, yes there was a cat on Endurance in addition to the dogs. It's kind of fun to read, but not as good as The Endurance).

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First sighting of land in Antarcti…
First sighting of land in Antarct…
getting closer to land
getting closer to land
approaching Elephant Island
approaching Elephant Island
a closer view of the ice cliff on …
a closer view of the ice cliff on…
looking back at the Caledonia Star…
looking back at the Caledonia Sta…
a closer look at the painted petre…
a closer look at the painted petr…
A view of the memorial bust on the…
A view of the memorial bust on th…
a closer view of the island, and w…
a closer view of the island, and …
another view of the islands small…
another view of the island's smal…
Elephant Island
photo by: portia