What an amazing voyage! Antarctica never disappoints. Even when you think you know what to expect, it will still surprise you in a new way.
I recently returned from an Antarctic Peninsula voyage in February, and it was a spectacular experience. What made it so spectacular? Amazing Scenery, great whale and leopard seal encounters, and even a visit to the only permanently staffed Eastern Orthodox Church at Bellingshausen Station.
We were lucky enough to make three continental landings at Portal Point, Orne Harbor, and Neko Harbor with its amazing glacier face and extreme calving which sometimes sends a tidal wave onto the beach.
I love Zodiac cruising! The color of the icebergs was so blue it took my breath away! The interesting streaks on the iceberg’s surface are created by released air bubbles trapped in the compressed ice as it melts. Imagine being surrounded by glaciers, large icebergs, and quite a few Leopard Seals. We even had one Leopard Seal decide to follow us for 45 minutes.
At every landing there were adult penguins feeding their chicks, with brown Skuas harassing the rookery in hopes of a meal. One afternoon, I trekked up a steep 500 foot climb to see a Chinstrap penguin colony and was rewarded with a vista of spectacular mountain scenery.
Our last day in the Antarctic Peninsula had a real treat landing at Port Lockroy, rich in British History as it dates back to WWII. This is not always a guaranteed landing stop. There is a museum, gift shop, and post office. You usually beat your mail home by many months! Across from the station at Jougla Point there are fantastic whale bones, more Gentoo Penguins, and a nesting Antarctic Shag colony.
My final memory of this trip was a pod of Orcas outside Wilhelmina Bay. We stayed with them for 30 minutes before we had to head into the Drake and make our way home.
While we had 'Drake Lake' on our way down to Antarctica, we were treated to 'Drake Shake' on the way home, but we still enjoyed some fantastic sunsets and the many Albatross that following the ship were enjoyed by all. The wildlife, the glaciers, the silence of Antarctica always re-centers me and makes me so grateful to be able to witness this spectacular environment. There is something truly special about visiting a place mostly untouched by man.
Eastern Orthodox Church at Bellingshausen Station
Iceberg cruising in Zodiacs
Swimming leopard seal
Hiking above Neko Harbor
Close encounter with Minke whale
Whale bones on the beach
Gentoo penguin feeding chick
Antarctic (Blue-Eyed) Shag
Pod of Orcas