After settling into shipboard life, we will head through the Antarctic Sound to the eastern side of the Peninsula to reach the Weddell Sea.
Access into the Weddell is heavily dependent on ice conditions, and our experienced leader will use their expertise to design our voyage from day to day. We aim to make landings or Zodiac excursions two to three times a day. Days will be spent cruising along spectacular ice cliffs, following whales that are feeding near the surface, and landing on the continent and its off-shore islands to visit penguin rookies, seal haul outs, historic huts, and a few of our other favourite spots along the peninsula.
We will generally try for two landings or Zodiac excursions each day; cruising along spectacular ice cliffs; following whales that are feeding near the surface; and landing on the continent and its off-shore islands to visit penguin rookeries, seal haul outs, historic huts, and a few of our other favourite spots along the peninsula. There will be plenty of time for sleep when you get home!
There are many exciting places we can choose to visit; a sample of some of the places where we may land, hike, photograph or view spectacular wildlife follows:
Situated on the eastern side of Tabarin Peninsula, the spectacular 745-metre promontory of Brown Bluff towers over some 20,000 nesting pairs of Adélie penguins and hundreds of Gentoo penguins. Nesting skuas, snow petrels and pintados inhabit the upper slopes and kelp gulls screech overhead. Brown Bluff's volcanic origins have created some fantastically shaped boulders that lie scattered across the ash beach and make colourful nesting sites for some of the penguins.
This tiny volcanic island forms the nesting grounds of some 120,000 pairs of Adélie penguins, and the surrounding seas literally teem with penguins. There is also a blue-eyed shag colony situated at one end of Paulet's long beach front. Leopard seals are often seen cruising offshore, in search of their next meal. Weddell seals sometimes haul out here for a quiet nap on the beach. Apart from its plentiful wildlife, Paulet is also rich in the history of Antarctic exploration, for it was here that the 22 men of Larsen's ship Antarctic arrived on 28 February, 1903 after their ship had sunk. The men wintered on Paulet, living on penguins and seals, until eventually Larsen and five of the men rowed across Erebus and Terror Gulf to be reunited with members of Otto Nordenskjold's geological exploration party.
James Clark Ross Island
Separated from Trinity Peninsula by Prince Gustav Channel, the beaches and rocks of this mighty island are a mix of volcanic and sedimentary; creating a geologists’ paradise. The beaches are populated with kelp gulls while Antarctic terns and skuas nest on the island's higher slopes. Many of the island's rocks are decorated with bright red and orange lichens, presenting fantastic photographic opportunities. Ice floes in the surrounding waters provide temporary floating homes for Weddell and Leopard Seals. We may walk up to Hidden Lake, following a stream rich in fossilised remains of deciduous trees, ferns, and even clamshells. If ice conditions and time permit, we may also circumnavigate this fantastic island; a rarely-accomplished feat.
This very rarely-visited island was named for its two striking peaks or 'horns'. It is the nesting site for some 10,000 pairs of Adélie penguins. If weather conditions permit, we may walk up a scree slope to the top of the island's western peak. A few hundred metres in height, the summit provides superb views into Erebus and Terror Gulf. On the upper slopes, you may even see nesting snow petrels and Wilson's Storm Petrels. For those who are less active, the continuous commute of penguins on the beach and the accompanying skua population provide endless fascination. We may also cruise in our zodiacs amongst the large numbers of icebergs that are often grounded offshore.
View Point, Duse Bay
View Point is one of the few places where we may be able to set foot on the Antarctic continent proper. A British hut was built here in 1953 and an Argentinian refuge hut was established a few years later. In front of the old hut are the remains of crabeater seal carcasses, which provided food for the sledge dogs. Thanks to the cold conditions, the well-preserved hut looks just as it did all those years ago – a fascinating place to get a feeling for the golden days of Antarctic exploration.
If ice conditions allow, standing on the observation deck of the Greg Mortimer quietly as the ship sails along the narrow Lemaire Channel could certainly be one of the highlights of our voyage. Cliffs tower 700 metres / 2,296 feet straight out of the ocean on either side of the ship. The water can sometimes be so still that perfect reflections are mirrored on the surface and it is clear to see why this Channel is often called “Kodak Alley”. Gigantic icebergs may clog the channel, creating navigational challenges for our Captain and crew; occasionally they may even obstruct our passage.
Located on Goudier Island, British Port Lockroy is an important site for both scientific research and visitors to the Antarctic continent. Designated a historic site in 1994 and opened to the Antarctic tourism industry in 1996, it was discovered in 1904 and used by the whaling industry in the first half of the 1900s. It was part of the British Operation Tabarin during World War II, and was later used as a British Research Station. Today, Pork Lockroy is manned by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust and operates as a museum, gift shop and post office for visitors from passing Antarctic expeditions. You can even send a post card home from the Penguin Post Office, the world’s most southern Post Office.