Sunday, 29 December 2013


As I climbed the stairs to the bridge in the half-light, I just knew that the Captain had got it right! I opened the door to the outside world & Antarctica came flooding in! It was cold! In my slumbers, I had dreamed that the ship had taken a wrong turn & that we were heading for Fiji! My freezing breathe told me otherwise! It is a good job I dressed for the worst, just in case I was wrong!
Me, dressed for Fiji?
My first view of the Antarctic continent,
at dawn on 3rd December.
It is getting a little lighter.
Yes, those are icebergs in front of the landmass!


Penguins on the left!

Cassie, wondering why she is up so early!
We had been informed that we would first sight the Antarctic mainland at around 1.30 am. This turned out to be not quite correct! So on this assumption, a couple of diehards decided to stay in the bar & then go outside to see Antarctica! This was a totally brilliant idea wasn't it Cassie? The only problem was, we didn't actually see Antarctica until just after 2.30am, so we were totally frozen, as well as being tired & drunk! Hence the fantastic photography! We did manage to turn in for two hours though & then the day began yet again! And what a day it was!

Hmmm! Definitely not Fiji!
Our destination - the totally gripping & amazing
 Brown Bluff!
A lone Gentoo Penguin was there to greet us!
There are only a few scattered places in Antarctica,
 which are not totally covered in snow.
Yes, those icebergs are bigger than our ship!
Antarctica, is very colourless on an overcast day.
This photo looks monochrome, but it isn't!
One of the locals coming to see
what all the fuss is about!
Me, kissing the Antarctic continent!
Me, going a little nuts!
 But it was my seventh continent!

Did I mention that it was snowing?
Comical, curious & totally endearing!
The old adage, if you don't like the weather, just wait five minutes, was written for Antarctica! We suddenly had a break in the weather. Blue skies overhead! So some of us went for it! A walk on an Antarctic glacier! Wow!
We walked along the base of Brown Bluff which rises 744m high. There is a narrow beach, which the penguins nest on, then it was up on the snow to the glacier. The cliffs are the remains of an ancient volcano & the glacier is behind (hidden when viewing from the beach).


 Absolute stunning scenery & the sun was shining!
Just to prove I actually was there!
Sometimes I had to pinch myself
to see if it was real!
Myself & Barbara posing as National Geographic
explorers c1912!
We were both laughing so hard,
neither of us could keep a straight face!
Gentoo Penguin colony at the base of Brown Bluff.
And yes, it was snowing!
All huddled up! Around 600 pairs
were nesting here.
To get to the sea, you sometimes have to walk
through a colony of a different species.
The Adeile Penguins were a little further up the hill.
About 20,000 pairs nest here.
Most of them, did everything as a group!
 Snow, settling on its back!


A lone Chinstrap Penguin was among them.
 Cape Petrels bathing & drinking in a slightly
 less salty environment.
The ice was melting & running into the sea!

Guess what was nesting on these snowy/icy cliffs?

Atmospheric? Or what?

Yep! Snow Petrels!

 Weddell Seal

As we moved slightly further south towards Hope Bay,
 the pack ice started to get a little thicker!

Icebergs were quite numerous too!

It was while we were travelling through the pack ice, that I spotted a lone Emperor Penguin! It was a long way away, but stood upright on the ice, looking a bit like an old man with a flat cap on his head! I saw it on the way I to Hope Bay & on the way out in exactly the same place. Wow! What an addition to my world bird list!
Myself & Daphne - what were we doing?
I can't remember! But it was obviously very funny!
Quick exit left! Don't give up the day job!
She was absolutely creased up!
Even just a fraction further south,
 the pack ice gets thicker!
My first view of Esperanza - the Argentinian
 so-called research base!
The weather started to clear as we got closer.
Despite the good weather
(which lasted all of 10 minutes)!
The landing was tricky, as the jetty
was covered in thick ice!
 Trevor (one of us) with our Argentinian welcome
 committee, who were absolutely charming by the way!
The Rotary Club down here!
Esperanza is the largest of Argentina's bases on Antarctica, established in 1951. It has had continuous habitation since then. There is a school to cater for families & at least seven children have been born here. But the families are only resident for a year, to be replaced by another group each time. It has a bit of a village feel to it & the people were very hospitable! While we were visiting their base some of them slipped on to our ship to use our sauna! A real luxury!
The afternoon was spent on a close shore zodiac cruise of Hope Bay. However, the weather closed in & although we saw a Leopard Seal & lots more penguins, it was hard to take photos. The few of us who went on this little jaunt returned to the ship completely frozen - it was nice to strip off all those layers & get into a hot shower! The bird list for the day was small, but contained one of two little gems!
Emperor Penguin 1;Gentoo Penguin 1200; Adelie Penguin 30,000; Chinstrap Penguin 1; Southern Giant Petrel 65; Southern Fulmar 800+; Cape Petrel 1,200; Snow Petrel 120; Wilson's Storm Petrel 6; Antarctic Shag 17; Snowy Sheathbill 5; Kelp Gull 20; Antarctic Tern 14 & South Polar Skua 4.
 But, what a day it was - my first day on Antarctica!

 The end of a day. But what a day!


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