Today the was the first chance to step foot on the continent of Antarctica, this involved passaging through the Antarctic Sound which was a passage filled with icebergs and offered some amazing photo opportunities. There were glaciers and icebergs were like icy mountains peering out of the water and many had small groups of penguins jumping on and off them.
The first landing site was Brown Bluff which was home to a colony of Adele and Gentoo penguins. The weather was reasonable at only -1 but slightly overcast, the one surprise was the lack of snow at the landing site. I always pictured Antarctica to be just a large land mass of snow and ice and when I stepped on the land it was a rocky beach with virtually no snow!
The colony was just off the beach and since it was breeding season there were dozens of female penguins flying on there front covering their eggs. The rules of interacting with penguins was to stay 25m away from the nesting mothers (they get protective) and 5m away from the normal penguins. This was fine but what I found during the trip was that the penguins did not respect these rules and were not shy around humans.
After spending some time studying the colony on the beach I headed up a steep hill where a panoramic view of the area and off a nearby glacier awaited. The glacier was the size of a mountain and this was more of what I expected from Antarctica.
After a couple of hours on that landing I was back on the ship and it was time to have some lunch before we headed to the next landing site. In this time I also had the chance to catch a quick photography workshop which actually turned out to be quite helpful with some good tips to make the most of my camera in one of the most photogenic places on the planet
The next landing was a former Argentine military base called Esperanza base where a small group of scientists were based. There was again not much snow, but it was strange to see lodges and houses in the middle of nowhere. Its amazing to think that the tin huts could withstand -40c, I am not sure I would be keen to spend a few months there. The area had the basics which included a church, school, and amenities such as digital tv and internet.
After a couple of hours there I head back to the ship and spent the evening relaxing in the bar with a book and a beer.