Tuesday 14 December 2010

Neko Harbour and Port Lockroy

This morning we had actually planned to land on Vernadsky Station (the old British station Faraday), south of the Lemaire Channel, but onboard MS Fram we have learnt that in the Antarctic, one plans something and the weather decides whether you can do it – today, we couldn’t. Densely-packed ice was flowing northwards during the night, so our Captain decided to sail away from the oncoming ice and this morning we were positioned in front of Neko Harbour, which by the way, is a fantastic place, so we all enjoyed a landing there. Some of our passengers climbed to the top of the hill overlooking the sea and the imposing glacier that hangs all the way from the crest of the mountains to the sea. On the way down, some slid down a snowy slope. Neko is on the mainland of west Antarctica.

We saw some avalanches and also a couple of ice chunks calving off the nearby glacier into the water. Of course, there were also penguins, and as our passengers had already seen them before, the unstoppable impulse to take bizillions of photos is beginning to wane, and they are actually starting to look at these funny birds.

On the route from Neko Harbour to Port Lockroy, we cruised the scenic Neumayer Channel, which today showed in all its splendor as we had blue skies and flat, mirror-like waters.

We landed in Port Lockroy in the afternoon, and our passengers were fascinated by in the small museum showing how life was in a British Antarctic research station in the 1940s; they also proved to be rather interested in the museum gift shop spending tonnes of their hard-earned cash on very nice remembrances of their trip! The proceeds from the shop are all ploughed back into the running of the base and the restoration of other British bases around the Antarctic. All this is administered by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust.