Today was the final day of landings with both taking place in the south Shetland islands as we start the journey back to Argentina. The first landing was at 9am at Yankee harbour and as I stepped on shore there were a couple of seals as a greeting party and then further on a group of a dozen more elephant and fur seals were relaxing on the sun. These were the main wildlife attraction on the island but of course there were also a Gentoo penguin colony, no Antarctic landing would be complete with penguins. About an hour into the landing the weather took a turn for the worse and suddenly it went from a sunny day to a freezing cold day and it was one of the few times when it was uncomfortably cold. I for the first time wished I had better gloves as my hands were freezing and as the snow was coming down along with the wind I decided it was time to cut short my landing and get back to the warmth of the ship and a nice hot shower.
The afternoon landing was at half moon island and the weather had improved by the time we got there. I had also signed up for snow shoeing which I had never done before so I was paying close attention to the mandatory briefing and the instructions seemed straight forward. Then at 4pm I headed for the hike, it was easy enough to attach the snow snows and we also got a pair of walking sticks and after a bit of practice the group headed on the hike. It didn’t take long to get into a rhythm for walking and to work up a bit of a sweat. There were frequent stops which allowed you to take in scenery and with little wind and sunshine it was a fantastic landscape to enjoy.
After scaling a steep hill and getting some good pictures we double timed it down the hill in an attempt to get to another landing site where there was a rumour of solitary macaroni penguin there. It was cutting it quite fine as we were the last landing party to arrive and were told that we had to hurry to get to the colony. It was a shame that we were pressed for time as the island was one of the nicest landing spots on the trip. At the furthest away point of the island was a colony of chinstrap penguins and after a few minutes and using the max 50x zoom on my camera I was able to find the macaroni penguin.
I got back to the ship quite late, only 45 mins before dinner service finished and then I got a couple of beers and chilled out in the hot tub enjoying the changing scenery. Afterwards I had a few more drinks in the bar and while there the ship re-entered Drakes passage which was easy to notice as suddenly the waves significantly increased in size and the ship started rocking and rolling.