The first stop for our second day in Antarctica was Neko Harbour. Jumping off the zodiacs, we were greeted on the ice-strewn shoreline by even more gentoo penguins than yesterday.
Gentoo Penguin Love.
Our love affair with the super friendly Gentoos was growing by the second. They make the cutest noises and are so fun to watch as they waddle about, ever curious and constantly looking around them to see what’s happening. It was hilarious to watch the baby penguins chasing after their parents for a meal. See our penguins in action video here.
After some penguin time, we set off for a walk to higher ground and more amazing panoramic views of the surrounding area – plus one of the biggest glaciers we’d seen. We sat down to take it all in, the silence only broken by the occasional thunderous roar from the glacier, as part of it gave way and snow and ice crashed down into the freezing water.
As we walked back down the hill, we had to stop quite often due to the penguin traffic and so we decided to sit down for a while and watch them waddle down the hill – which they did by mostly walking, falling and then walking some more. It was so funny to watch. As a baby penguin walked past, it detoured and sat right in front of me and looked at me quizzically. It sat with me, squawking and staring at me for what seemed like ages – an unforgettable experience. We have no pictures of me with Spike, apart from the close ups I took as my mohawked penguin friend was chatting to me.
Eventually he tired of me, so we went back to the bottom of the hill to sit on the rocks and watch the penguins some more.
Brown Station in white Antarctica.
Our visits outside could only last 2-3 hours due to the cold, so after heading back to the boat for another well earned lunch – and a chance to rest and warm up – we set off for our second landing of the day to Brown Station, an Argentine research station. The Argentine crew that work out of Brown Station were in the process of packing up for winter, so it looked quite deserted as we arrived, apart from the ever-present Gentoos.
We were given the all clear by the expedition leader to walk up past the research huts to higher ground and look out at more stunning panoramic views, this time of Paradise Bay. In the distance, the MV Ushuaia looked tiny, patiently waiting for our return.
Visiting Paradise Bay.
Before returning to the ship, we were taken on a zodiac tour of Paradise Bay – for me this was one of the highlights of the trip, it was just magical. As we started to head towards the Bay, our zodiac driver thought he saw something ahead, so off we went. We were rewarded with another close encounter with a leopard seal, this one the most stunning yet due to it’s size and markings. It was amazing and slightly scary, as I’ve never been so close to such a big and powerful animal. We feel so lucky to have the experience of seeing these animals in their natural environment.
We then turned back on course and entered Paradise Bay. The waters as we entered the bay were completely still and again, we were treated to seeing the stunning mountains and glaciers reflected like a mirror image on the water.
As we ventured further into the bay, the ice became thicker and covered the water in various shapes and sizes. We also had fun searching for glacier ice (or black ice), which was easy to spot in the water – we were picking it up for a special occasion on board later that night.
We were also surrounded by some of the most unusual icebergs we’d seen yet, with the crystal clear waters showing us the depth and size of the icebergs underwater. Their bright green and blue adding more colour to the landscape. The feeling of slowly gliding along on the zodiacs through the icy waters, passing by the craziest icebergs and with the huge mountains surrounding us was fantastic.
When we got back to the boat, we showered and warmed up and put on our best (warm) clothes and headed up to the bow of the ship. We had a wedding to attend! A couple from the boat were being married by the Captain. The ceremony itself didn’t sound all that romantic, being mostly legal talk in Spanish but the scenery more than made up for it.
After another amazing day and with the wedding, the night ended in high spirits. To celebrate, whiskey and glacier ice was consumed, we located an ipod with a great mix of songs and we danced the night away with new friends in the middle of Antarctica.
Our trip to Antarctica was with Antarpply Expeditions on the MV Ushuaia in March 2014. Review to come (but in short they were fantastic). Contact us if you have any questions.