Peninsula Antarctica Days 1 and 2 Trip Report

Finally after two days on sea we reached on Feb 6 the Portal Point, our first stop on the Antarctic Peninsula.

Gerlache Strait

Plancius landed in the Gerlache strait. Before leaving the boat we learned that it is very important to wear rubber boots when going ashore and to clean up the shoes with a germicide before leaving the  boat and after coming back.

And of course because of the short cruise with the Zodiac we had to put a life jacket on. We were lucky and it was not so cold (ca. 0 degrees centigrade) however it was raining and we had problems with our cameras.

Portal Point

When we landed at Portal Point the guides already delimited for us the area where we could walk. This is very important as there are no ways so far.

We were very excited to walk the first time in Antarctica! Lots of Gentoo penguins “greated” us. The noise made by the Gentoo penguins is similar to the noise made by  donkeys. That’s why they are called in German Eselspinguine (Donkey penguin).

The guides showed us the “penguins motorways” used by the penguins to walk to the water and to come back to their nests. The penguins have absolute priority on these “motorways”  and if a penguin comes along a human has to stop and wait until the penguin passed.

We went up the hill to get an overview of the island and its surroundings. The view from the top was magnificent with the far off snow covered mountains framed by the low clouds. We found a big Gentoo colony full of chicks and a few Skuas patrolling the area to steal some chicks from their parents.

The whole expedition had been split in two groups. After being ashore our group did a zodiac cruised around marvelous icebergs and shoreline.

Danco Island

In the afternoon we sailed to Danco Island where we got ashore again. Unfortunately it was raining an we had some problems with the cameras getting wet.

In Antarctica it is allowed for only 100 persons to go at the same time ashore. Our advantage was that there were only 110 persons aboard and nearly everybody could go ashore without waiting that other people come back. This is the advantage of a ‘small’ vessel.

We have seen some leopard and fur seals too. They laid around and were not very impressed by our presence. After coming back to the vessel,  some humbeck whales took a delicious meal and showed up from time to time. What a magical way to end the landing and our first day on the Peninsula.

Neko Harbour

On Feb 7 we sailed to Neko Harbour. Plancius landed closed to a calving glacier. Huge pieces of ice fault with a tremendous noise into the sea. The guides asked us to immediately climb on the hill after landing to avoid waves produced by the ice blocks falling into the water.

A big Gentoo penguin colony spreads out along some ice free hills among magnificent glacial scenery. It was amazing to watch the birds’ behavior in detail, including the feeding of their chicks and their busy walking on the penguin highways to and from the colony.

We also enjoyed walking up a great view point above the colony at the edge of the glacier. In addition there were some humpback whales passing by at the shoreline.

In the afternoon we went on towards Paradise Bay, where we landed at the abandoned Argentinean station Almirante Brown, and also went for a little Zodiac cruise in this icy paradise. We were very lucky to see humpback whales so close to our Zodiacs that we could have caress them. We also met the Argentineans taking care of the renovation of the station. The BBQ on the outer aft deck in the evening, rounded up a splendid dayfor most of us, while some 26 people went once more ashore – for a camping-night under the Antarctic skies. Please check further Peninsula Antarctica days 3-4.