Monday 2 January 2012

Deception Island

 Today's weather in Deception Island was, appropriately, deceptive: early this morning, we landed in thick fog and had to cut through it to reach the crater lake by Telefon Bay, at the far end of the caldera; and a couple of hours later, we had a wonderfully clear day, with good visibility due to the crisp air. This enabled us to -almost- visit two different sites at once: first, a very scenic and mysterious walk in the fog, where one could only make out the contours of things; and later, a very scenic place with impressive views over the lake and the surrounding mountains.

After a short pause on board Fram, which was gently cruising inside the caldera for a couple of hours, we landed on Whaler's Bay, and had time to do three very nice things today: we climbed to the top of Donald Hill, from where we could take in the whole caldera of this volcanic island in its full splendor. Then, we had a lot of time to explore the abandoned buildings of both Hector whaler station and the former British Base B, which are very interesting and photogenic. 
And we finally had the opportunity to walk the full length of the steamy beach leading to the cliffs where Neptune's window looks into the Bransfield Strait, which makes for a rather nice afternoon stroll, full of interesting things to amuse the wanderers, such as whale bones and old wooden whaling boats in different states of disrepair. At the end of the beach was a wonderful surprise: a couple of leopard seals dozing on the strand, their happy slumbers only interrupted by the naughty skuas looking for an easy -albeit fecal- lunch; much to the delight of the photographers, who had excellent opportunities to get impressive portraits of these extraordinary and beautiful beasts. After such an exciting afternoon, it was only fitting that a great many of our passengers closed the day and our Antarctic trip by vigorously swimming in the frigid waters. What an exciting and wonderful day in Antarctica...