29/03/2015 Perfect weather conditions allowed us to enjoy the breathtaking landscapes at Dorian Bay and Neumayer Channel. So far, we had only visited islands and were now very close of setting foot on the actual continental landmass of Antarctica for the first time. Thick sea ice blocked our entry point at Neko Harbour though and forced the captain to find another spot for us to land on what would become the seventh continent for some of the passengers. Missing Australia, it was just the sixth for me personally 🙂
Although it was not possible to get to our original landing point at Neko Harbour, none of us was unhappy with the alternative that the captain provided instead: Paradise Bay! Just hearing the name, one would actually not be suprised if it would be the superior location. And in fact, it was a great one. Not only was the entrance into the bay fabulous, but we would also have some very spectacular glaciers nearby too. My first stop was the Argentinean Station called Brown. Gentoo penguins would watch us as we stepped on the continent of Antarctica for the first time. The weather was still perfect as we were climbing up a viewpoint in the thick snow. It was actually really pleasant to be here out of season, the snow completely untouched and just sharing the amazing landscape with the ~80 tourists on our ship.
Once we made it to the top, several groups started to build snowmans. The russians also used the steep slope to roll down of it. I am pretty sure they were still a little bit drunk, I never saw them not drinking on board the ship! Another very interesting interacting happened right next to me: A guy kneed down in the snow in front of his girlfriend to offer his engagement ring. It was literally a pretty cool spot to propose 🙂 Most of the wild life concentrated down at the Brown station though and as usual, the penguins provided our daily portion of entertainment. The sun would slowly disappeared behind the clouds while we were waiting for our Zodiacs to bring us to our last location of the day.
And it was a pretty good one! Passing by some cliffs with nesting birds and a lot of bird poo on the way, we reached a really nice glacier and got very close. The clouds dominated the sky now, but just when my zodiac reached the glacier, it actually peaked out and the light was shining just on a tiny roughly 3 meter long spot at the edge of the glacier, such a cool sight! It looked as if someone from up above wanted to point something out. However, we could not see anything other than ice and soon after had to retreat again, cruising along the ice bergs on the way back. My hands started to get really really cold very fast after taking all the pictures, forcing me to shut off my camera and warm up my hands in the pockets. It turned out to be a bad timing, because just 20 seconds later, a huge portion of the glacier calved off into a newly born ice berg, creating a wave that lifted up our zodiac boat.
Getting closer to the U/V Ushuaia, I could not believe my nose but the crew actually set up a huge outside BBQ on the deck of the ship with the wind pushing the smell towards us on sea! I spent a good amount of time in Argentina already and knew exactly how good their asado was, so I could not wait to get back and receive the first Choripán as an appetizer for the upcoming steaks for dinner 🙂 Talking about the ship, there was one question I received regarding sea sickness. Most of the people actually took some pills and some of them still got sick. I had no problems at all without taking anything, actually I never got sea sick in my life! But the ship was indeed moving quiet a lot at times and you had to make sure to hold on to the railways and be a bit careful while using the doors to get outside – some people actually injured themselves with those before. Nothing happened in our trip so far though and after this great day in sunny weather, everyone was happy and filled up with lot’s of meat from the asado before getting back to their cabins. We would have two more fulls days to explore Antarctica before it was time to head back home again through the Drake Passage.
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