If you have not yet read part 1 of my Antarctica adventure, be sure to check it out here.
When we awoke, we had arrived at the Antarctic Peninsula and to the land of ice and snow. It was as if we had been transported to another world over night. When I walked out on deck, we were surrounded by ice bergs and snow covered mountains. This was more of how I imagined Antarctica to be!
Our morning excursion was a zodiac cruise in Foyn Harbour. At the beginning of the cruise I set the intention and made the bold statement to the rest of the people on my zodiac, that we would see 35 whales that day.
I really believed that we would because I had set a strong intention. I had my eyes peeled the entire time, always expecting that in the next moment I would see a whale’s blow out in the distance. In the end, we saw a lot of really interesting ice bergs and had a wonderful time, but there were no whale sightings to be had.
When we got back on the ship, I was still convinced that we we would see whales this day, so I decided to go hang out at the bridge with the captain to try to spot some whales with binoculars. Suddenly, I heard excitement in the voice of one of the crew members, so I looked to where he was pointing.
Way off in the distance we could see the blows of a group of humpback whales. An announcement was made to the entire boat and excitement filled the air as we approached Wilhelmina bay (Now known as Whale Helmina Bay).
Once we reached the bay, there were whales all around us, literally in every direction we looked. I don’t know if there were a full 35, but I was definitely not complaining. If people were excited to see whales, the excitement went through the roof, when Shane announced that we would be dropping the zodiacs back in the water.
Again, everyone on the ship was already thrilled with seeing whales from the ship, but Shane decided to over deliver again and give us an extra, unplanned zodiac cruise with whales!
The whales could not have chosen a nicer place to stop to feed. The water was calm as glass and we were surrounded by the most serene glacier landscape. The whales were surfacing close enough to our zodiacs that I could have almost reached out and touched them. Rick, our zodiac guide later said, “In all my days down here that was the best whale sighting I’ve ever seen from Zodiacs.”
When our time was up, no one wanted to return to the ship. However, we had one more stop to make this day, so we said good bye to the whales and watched them shrink into the distance as we cruised away.
Our next stop was an important one. Orne harbour was our first continental landing. Up to this point we had only landed on islands. Now I could officially say that I had walked on the 7th continent of the world.
Five years ago, just finishing up University, I would have never imagined in a million years that I would be traveling to Antarctica this year. Because of events that took place in my life and decisions that I made, both positive and negative, I somehow ended up traveling around the world and making a quick stop in Antarctica in the year 2105.
It’s crazy how life works. I’ve realized that everything that I have experienced in life up to this point, the good and the bad, has lead me to exactly where I am and has shaped me into exactly who I am today. In part 3, I write in more detail about how I’ve come to appreciate my past struggles, just as much as I appreciate my past successes.
In my opinion, this was the least exciting of all the days. However, we did get to experience some extreme Antarctica weather. It was freezing! I wouldn’t want to go all the way to Antarctica and not experience the Antarctic cold, so I’m glad we did, but I’m grateful it was only for one day.
Since it was more of a relaxed day, it was nice to be able to just sit and penguin watch. They are really funny. The chicks will chase around the parents until they get fed. The parents will run away from the chicks. Penguins will try to steal rocks from the nests of other penguins.
The rule is that we were not allowed to walk right up close to the penguins, but if they approached us, then it was fine. Some would walk right up to me and hang out.
Our next day was one of the best. It was jam packed with fun and adventures. First thing in the morning, we enjoyed the scenery from the deck as we passed through the Lemaire channel. At first, the captain wasn’t sure if we could pass through, as there were ice bergs in the channel, but in the end, he was able to skillfully maneuver us through.
This was my favourite landing, overall. It was a beautiful sunny day and Petermann Island was the perfect place to relax, reflect and enjoy Antarctica. I will let the photos tell the story.
If Petermann was my favourite landing, Planeau was my favourite zodiac cruise. I mentioned Phil, the Geologist, in the previous post. Well we requested to have him as our guide for this cruise and did he ever show us a good time.
In the beginning we were out searching for whales. At one point Phil said, “The best way to find whales is to listen for the blow,” and literally within 5 seconds, lo and behold, we hear the blow of a whale behind us.
Planeau, being an ice berg field, is a great place to spot seals, that spend their days lazing around on the ice. We were lucky enough to see all of the main species of Antarctic seals, including leopard seals, which I had not seen yet. Leopard seals are at the top of the food chain in Antarctic waters. Their only real predators are Orcas.
It was hilarious, how Phil would just cut in front of the other zodiacs and take us right up close to the seals, even if another group was there before us.
When we were done with seals we had some fun making our way through a shallow ice field. We had to ram the ice out of our way and pull out the paddles in order to get through. There were some tight squeezes, but Phil’s motto was, “we might as well try!”
And then Paul and I had the chance to show off our upper body strength and take over for the engine, with the paddles, as you can see below. Look at us move.
Shane surprised us with hot chocolate and mint liqueur. So good!
To bring the cruise to a close, Phil took us on a full speed tour through the ice field where we saw some really cool ice bergs. It was surreal.
On our return to the ship, after already keeping us out for way too long (For Shane’s timeframe, not ours), Phil says, “Let’s do the Top Gun thing,” and we did a fly by around the cruise ship before finally docking about half an hour late. What an amazing day, and it wasn’t even over yet.
However, this post is… The story will continue in Part 3, which will be coming soon. The next piece will include the Polar Plunge (Can you guess what this could be?), one of the most spectacular view points on the continent, and the deepest words of self reflection that I took away from my time in Antarctica. Subscribe to my blog now, to be sure you don’t miss it! You can read part 3 here.
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