Our First Penguins

We’ve seen a lot on this trip so far: the city of Buenos Aires, Tierra del Fuego National Park at the bottom tip of Argentina, the birds flying near the ship on the Drake Passage. But for many of us, the part where things really start to get real is when we finally get to see penguins. And we are definitely seeing penguins.

Many of the passengers saw their first penguin three nights ago around midnight, as we sailed through the Melchior Strait on our way to our first Antarctic stop, Paradise Harbour. I missed this, as I was asleep in my cabin, but I’m told that a pod of orca whales escorted the ship for a while—and then the passengers saw a single chinstrap penguin, stranded on an ice floe. Apparently the orcas had chased it Read more

Welcome to Antarctica

Our sea journey that started in Ushuaia on Sunday night around 9 pm ended sometime in the middle of the night last night, when we pulled into Paradise Harbour on the Antarctic Peninsula. We had seen nothing but fog yesterday, so it was lovely to look out the window of my cabin just now and see this:

Today we’ll get to explore the place a bit. We’ll get on Zodiac boats this morning and go tooling around the harbor, and then after lunch we’ll visit Dorian Bay, where we go onshore. There’s a colony of Gentoo penguins there. Think I should take my camera?

Antarctica Dreaming

I spent a little time yesterday looking in detail at where, exactly, in Antarctica we’ll be going. I looked at the itinerary and did a little Googling about each of the places we’ll visit. Then this morning I got out the Antarctic Explorer map that our editorial assistant at the magazine, Barb Fries, got me for Christmas and tried to plot our path. I’ve got it all figured out! So much so that I’m sure the captain won’t mind letting me steer the ship.

We really don’t go deep into Antarctica—we spend all of our time around the Antarctic Peninsula, a tendril-like slice of land and islands that extends about 800 miles north from the continent. Most of our stops are on islands; only once, I think, do we actually set foot on the mainland.

Below is a section of my Antarctic Explorer map that zooms in on our first few stops (I’ve underlined them in red):

At Port Lockroy, our first stop, we should be able to see the skeleton of a blue whale, as well as Gentoo penguins and blue-eyed shags (the latter being a bird I took for granted on my last trip, but do a Google Images search and you’ll see just how beautiful they are). I think this is also where Read more