During our time in Antarctica, there are many exciting places we can choose to visit and we may make a stop at a few or many of the following :
A protected bay surrounded by magnificent peaks and breath-taking glaciers, the rocky cliffs provide a perfect nesting site for blue-eyed shags, terns and gulls. Paradise Harbour is also a haven for whales as we keep our eyes open for humpbacks, orcas and minkes, as well as crabeater seals, whilst we explore the bay in Zodiacs.
Half Moon Island
This wildlife-rich island is tucked into a neat bay at the eastern end of Livingston Island. On a clear day, the glaciers and mountains of Livingston Island dominate the vista. There is a large chinstrap penguin rookery tucked in between basaltic turrets, coloured by yellow and orange lichens. Gulls nest on these turrets and there are often fur seals and elephant seals hauled out on the pebble beaches. At one extremity of the island, there is a large colony of nesting blue-eyed shags. At the other end lies a small Argentine station that is sometimes occupied by scientists conducting research on the penguin colony and surrounding waterways.
If ice conditions allow, standing on the bow of the Greg Mortimer quietly moving through the narrow Lemaire Channel, could be one of the highlights of your voyage. Cliffs tower 700 metres straight up out of the ocean on either side of the ship. The water can be so still, that perfect reflections are mirrored on the surface and it is clear to see why this Channel is also known as 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 1900's. It was also 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 postcard home from the Penguin Post Office, the World's most southern Post Office!
Visiting Deception Island is like making a journey to the moon. We sail through the narrow opening of Neptune's Bellows to enter the flooded volcanic crater. The inside of the crater is an unworldly scene, virtually devoid of life. Glaciers flow down from the edge of the crater, littered with black volcanic ash.
We can explore the lifeless remains of a derelict whaling station and a vacant British base, or climb to the rim of the crater. Steam rises from the shore indicating that the water is actually warm enough for swimming, for those who dare. Outside the crater, if conditions allow, we might land at Bailey Head to explore the enormous chinstrap penguin rookery that featured in David Attenborough's Life in the Freezer series.
Located in Andvord Bay, Neko Harbour is an inlet home to Gentoo penguins and regularly welcomes Weddell seals. The scenery is dramatic - towering peaks and calving glaciers surround the harbour. The thundering crack of the glaciers as they calve, is sure to stop you in your tracks.