Argentina and Antarctica 2008/2009:
Day 7 - Antarctic Peninsula


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Antarctica 2008: [Day 1 - Buenos Aires] [Day 2 - Uruguay] [Day 3 - Ushuaia] [Day 4 - Drake Passage] [Day 5 - South Shetland Islands] [Day 6 - Antarctica] [Day 7 - Antarctic Peninsula] [Day 8 - Antarctic Sound] [Day 9 - Drake Passage] [Day 10 - Cape Horn] [Day 11 - Ushuaia] [Day 12 - Iguaçu] [Day 13 - Iguazú]

Saturday, January 3: We awoke at 4:30 AM in time to enter the Lemaire Channel at 5:00 AM. It was the first time we had seen anything other than fair skies in Antarctica.
The channel is very narrow.
The snow is heavy on both sides.
Once again, we found the clouds dancing on the peaks fascinating.
The snow cracks glow an eerie blue.
The snow pack creates snow caves near the water's edge and up high.
The channel is littered with icebergs of all sizes ...
... and here are some more of them.
It's hard to estimate the depth of the snow, so we won't try.
The view from Deck 8 gives a little perspective on the size of it all and the narrowness of the channel.
Tom tries out a little photographic artistry.
Our next landing was Almirante Brown, an Argentine base that is currently unstaffed.
The main feature is a large rocky hill just behind the base.
Landings were at a tiny dock with rocky steps leading up the hill.
Of course, gentoo penguins were there to greet us.
Penguins live on the rocky hill to the right, while humans climb the large hill to the left.
It took some time to get up the hill, but it was worth the effort. With a few stops to rest, we made it.
The view from the top was spectacular.
Here's the view looking down toward the main base ...
... and here's a closer shot of the base buildings.
The ship looked beautiful in Paradise Bay.
Here is the view looking down the edge of the sharp cliff. We were cautioned not to get too close since you never know when snow pack will tumble off the edge.
Finally, here we are to get our official photo of the Antarctic Peninsula. In theory, we could walk to the South Pole from here because we were actually on the peninsula instead of an island.
It sure was a long walk up. How can we speed up the process on our return? By giving the snow slide a try, of course! Debbie went first and managed not to injure herself, then Tom went ...
... and went ...
... and stopped. Snow slides are fun! No harm befell the backpack.
Back at the base, you can see that the penguins have made themselves at home among the human effects.
There were penguin nests all around the buildings.
We watched, enthralled, at feeding time once again.
"I want more!"
The ship's photographer got an even closer shot of the babies.
If this isn't a portrait opportunity, nothing is. Debbie shed her layers to pose in her Macalester sweatshirt.
Tom took his turn with the mileage markers.
On our way back to the ship, we were treated to another extended tour in the Polar Cirkel boat.
On the back side of the large rock hill, cormorants make their nests on the cliff wall.
It's feeding time for these babies too.
The ship's photographer got a great shop of these beautiful birds.
Here's the view looking back to put it all in perspective.
Moving further along the coast, we passed this tiny fresh water stream. It was the only one we spotted the whole trip.
We passed more cormorants in the snow field on the left, and saw a copper vein in the rock next to a frozen waterfall.
Here's a closer view of the cormorants ...
... and the copper vein and frozen waterfall.
Around the coast further, we found this lone gentoo penguin. Our guide said he found her here the previous week and she seems to like it here.
With water this clear, no predators nearby, and peace and quiet, what's not to like?
She didn't mind at all as we pulled the boat right up to the shore.
With one last look at the scenery, we spun around ...
... and zoomed back to the ship. Each of the Polar Cirkel boats has a different Norwegian woman's name.
First step of boot washing is standing in this little fountain and brushing your boots against the two brushes on either side.
The second step of boot washing is holding one foot up, then the other, as a crew member hoses off the boots completely.
From our vantage point back on the ship, we watched as our shipmates made the same hike we did ...
... and rode the same slide we did.
We looked back toward the cormorant nests ...
... and watched the happy passengers on the Polar Cirkel boats.
Paradise Bay, home of Almirante Brown, is breathtakingly beautiful. As the morning wore on, the clouds started to fade and we were treated to more of those gorgeous sunny, blue Antarctic skies.
Back on the move, we passed more icebergs, ...
... some of which hosted little floating penguin parties.
We encountered the Marco Polo again, enjoying its own landing at a Chilean base.
Here's another iceberg. There are dozens more photos of icebergs left, don't worry.
Our voyage this day was sunny and beautiful. We spent a good part of the afternoon in the observation lounge just marveling at the natural beauty all around.
Twice Debbie looked up in time to see whale spouts, but we didn't get good shots of them.
Shortly after, the crew announced they had spotted several humpback whales, so we all ran to the starboard side of the lounge.
Sure enough -- this time we got a photo of them, ...
... and even a couple of shots of their tails as they dove out of sight.
Back in the most excellent suite 601, Tom charted our location on the chart table.

We were here.

Day 8 >


Antarctica 2008: [Day 1 - Buenos Aires] [Day 2 - Uruguay] [Day 3 - Ushuaia] [Day 4 - Drake Passage] [Day 5 - South Shetland Islands] [Day 6 - Antarctica] [Day 7 - Antarctic Peninsula] [Day 8 - Antarctic Sound] [Day 9 - Drake Passage] [Day 10 - Cape Horn] [Day 11 - Ushuaia] [Day 12 - Iguaçu] [Day 13 - Iguazú]

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