Wednesday, 30 November 2011

We made it!

It is understandably very important for our passengers to set foot on the mainland of Antarctica (although if you think about it, all land is connected and the separation of islands from the mainland by water is merely an illusion!). Yesterday we could not make our mainland landing due to waves and swell at the tender-pit, so today we had another go, this time at Almirante Brown in Paradise Bay. But before we tell you about our visit, we should mention our fantastic cruise through the Gerlache Strait this morning. Overnight we sailed on a bumpy Bransfield Strait but as soon as we entered the Gerlache, the sea smoothed out. The sun was shining through breaks in the cloud, illuminating Brabant and Anvers Islands to our starboard side and the mainland to port. The ice caps and glaciers on those islands always remind us of whipped meringue! The clouds were foreboding, especially the Altocumulus lenticularis clouds, which often indicate bad weather to come.

Almirante Brown is the site of an Argentinean summer research base, seldom used (no one was home today!). When we arrived in the afternoon, we were confronted with a lot of ice and icebergs apparently blocking the landing site. However, we were lucky to have a beautiful, clear path between two medium-sized bergs, which acted to shelter our landing from the very strong winds blowing at the time.

After we touched down on mainland Antarctica, many of us climbed the steep hill behind the station and admired the tremendous view of Paradise Bay before sliding down on our rears. What fun!

So, for those “ticking” continents in their travels "life list", Antarctica is the big one, and certainly the most difficult to achieve. Today we made it!