Today, we are finally on the Antarctic Peninsula! Our day begins in Paradise Harbour. As I look out our cabin window, I can see flocks of Gentoo penguins frolicking in the bay and feeding. They pop out of the water like champagne corks, and hurl through the air before diving again and again for krill. How fun!
Our expedition this morning is another Zodiac cruise on the bay. Once again, we suited up in our best waterproof gear to weather another rainy outing on the Zodiacs. This morning, we get to go with our Tauck directors while they try to catch penguins swimming underwater with their GoPro cameras mounted on poles.
We toured by the Argentinian base named after Admirante Brown. Not to be outdone, the Chileans have a base right around the headland. We can see a huge nesting colony of cormorants in the towering cliffs around the bay. Meanwhile, we chase after bunches of gentoos feeding in the bay with our “penguin cam”. We also chase a leopard seal, but he is not as friendly as the one yesterday so I don’t think we captured him on film.
Thoroughly wet and cold, we head back to the ship for lunch, an expedition briefing for the afternoon, and to get ready for our first steps on the Antarctic Peninsula. Sadly, despite its “raincoat”, my camera seems to have died. I’ve stripped it down and opened it up, and now we’ll pray it comes back to life.
The expedition to Neko Harbour involves … You guessed it, more penguins!!!! There is also a hike up a snowy hill for a view of the bay. From our cabin, we can see the destination, and it looks like an insane climb. Clearly, the walking sticks are in order. Rain is intermittent, so I wrapped my iPhone in a waterproof bag, and we set out in the Zodiacs for our beach landing.
Upon arriving, the naturalists had located a Weddell seal napping on a beach close by, and there were Gentoo penguins everywhere. We decided to try hiking at least partway up the snowy hill. While we were walking ,we could see huge glaciers ringing the bay. A giant slab calves while we were hiking and we saw the whole thing. E en though we only made it about 2/3 of the way up the hill, the views were incredible. Then we set off to return to the ship. On the way, I stopped to photograph yet another baby penguin on the path, lost my footing and sat in penguin poo. Fortunately, there are always washing stations set up on the ship right after you get off the Zodiacs. Jim used one of the long handled scrub brushes to sanitize me. Nonetheless, we took off our outer gear and left it hanging in the hall to dry.
After showering, we headed up to the observation bar to watch our departure from the bay. We saw several humpback whales feeding very close to the ship, including a mother and her calf. The departure was very dramatic as the crew had their work cut out for them navigating around all the icebergs in rather close to the ship.