Antarctic Peninsula – Update #2

Since my last update, we departed Puerto Williams, Chile and headed down the Beagle Channel and out across the Drake Passage to return to the Antarctic Peninsula. Things are warming up as the short summer takes effect. Penguins are raising their young chicks; the wiener Elephant Seals are growing fast and whales are becoming a prolific sight. In fact, it’s the whales that have been the big story here this week. A few days ago we found ourselves surrounded by 25 or more Humpback Whales as they breached, spy hooped, threw their tails in the air and grunted to us with their every breath. The summer months also mean lots of ice activity. In Neko Harbor, we heard a dozen or more huge booms as large ice calving events happened and at Portal Point we narrowly missed another calving event that sent a large tsunami wave charging across the bay. We’ve been able to get as far south as the Lamaire Channel, just above the Antarctic circle, before ice prevented us from proceeding any further. But we have had the opportunity to visit with the four lovely ladies running the remote British Research Station at Port Lockroy in addition to exploring the Argentine, Almirante Brown Station.

Kayaking in Antarctica has allowed us to explore places where no other craft could possibly take you. We’ve floated up on a plethora of wildlife that all remains nonchalant about our presence. We’ve paddled next to icebergs as large as multiple city blocks, some giving off an electric blue hue from deep within, others polished by the sea into works of art. And we’ve sat in silence enveloped by the Antarctic wilderness, watching massive colonies of cliff dwelling birds, like the cormorant.

I’m now two-thirds of the way thru this incredible experience to explore a little of Antarctica and we’re on our way to Ushuaia, Argentina where we will take on provisions and a staff change one more time before heading back for my final stint in this incredible wilderness. Everyday is different from the next but equally awe inspiring and I’ve run out of metaphors to describe the intense beauty and curiosity of this Antarctic wilderness.