Antarctica - Day 10: One Last Landing on the Last Continent
We woke up to an announcement that we were arriving into Whaler’s Bay, home of Deception Island, which is all located within Neptune’s Bay. It was, as you could likely guess, a whaling station in the early 1900’s before being converted to a British base in the 1940’s. It is home of an active volcano, so when we arrived to Deception Island we literally were entering into the crater.
After breakfast, we disembarked for our zodiac cruise which took us out of the crater into some swaying seas. I looked in awe at the volcanic rock sticking up in an imposing fashion as we navigated near the coastline. We came across a few seals, including a baby frolicking close to our zodiac jumping through the water. We even saw a beach full of seals with a steep mountain overlooking which had a penguin highway to the apex. It was amazing that the penguins could navigate on something so steep.
After our zodiac cruise, we landed on the shore and I was able to get off as it was on a beach. I only had to walk through a few inches of water, so it was a quick hop off the zodiac onto Antarctic land, this time within the South Shetland Islands. The land was a dark color as a result of the volcanic ash – the volcano last erupted in 1971.
The scenery was also insanely beautiful. I really liked how rocks were in the middle of the ocean with a mountainous background in the distance.
Before heading to shore, we stopped along a beach which was filled with all different types of seals.
Leading from the beach the seals were lying on, there was a steep incline with chinstrap penguins climbing up their penguin highway.
Near the same beach was a shipwrecked boat and a plane that had crashed.
The area near our landing site was eerie with remnants of the old whaling station and British presence throughout – from crosses marking graves to caved in buildings to large cylinder containers which I assume held some of the blubber from the whales.
There were dozens of seals and penguins relaxing throughout the landing site as well. The seals really blend into the ash, so some people mistook them for rocks before we landed!
The still waters combined with the landscape were beautiful.
After a little over an hour on shore, we hopped back on the boat for a filling lunch and pulled up our anchor for a mystery destination that we wouldn’t find out about until we arrived. It was a slow go, though, as our starboard engine was down and needed to be repaired while we were en route.
We were able to get off the boat at Half Moon Island at 6:00 PM for our final zodiac cruise and landing.
The island has a large chinstrap penguin colony, but I wasn’t able to get off the zodiac to see it as the landing was too rocky. Regardless, I’m happy to have had the opportunity to get on land in Antarctica not once, but twice during my voyage south!
Dinner was delayed to 9:00 PM given the fact that the mechanical difficulties with the engine delayed our arrival to Half Moon Bay by three hours. After dinner, we took our sea sickness medicine and hit the sack – we wanted to be fast asleep before we hit the turbulent waters of the Drake Passage.