Tuesday 11 December 2012

Continental Antarctica

Today we enjoyed not one, but two wonderful landings on the Antarctic continent proper. First thing in the morning, we paid a visit to the Argentine Base Esperanza, located in Hope Bay, at almost the very tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. People in the base were sincerely happy to see us, as we are the first ship that visits them after having overwintered there! In addition to the base personnel, a funny and quite numerous troupe of Adélie penguins was also waiting at the landing site, which made it all the more remarkable for our guests.

We were offered an interesting guided tour of the base, and saw the remains of the stone hut where three men of Otto Nordenskjold’s expedition overwintered here in 1903, and a very interesting little museum. We finished our visit with a nice, warm cup of coffee and freshly baked medias lunas.

Our second continental landing was in Brown bluff, and there we enjoyed the Adélie penguin rookery, where we saw the first chick of this trip; hiked up the moraine and glanced over the glacier surrounding the bluff itself, and were able to take in the beautiful and VAST Antarctic panorama before us.

To close a wonderful day, we sailed en route to Paulet Island and could not reach it, because we were stopped in our wake by the edge of the fast ice. This was actually a very beautiful thing: for a start, it is very impressive to see ice-covered seas as far as the eye can reach; to continue, we were lucky enough to spot an emperor penguin on the ice; and finally, it feels wonderful to be at the end of the world…