11 March 2020
Our first sighting of an iceberg yesterday morning made everything seem real – we were almost at Antarctica!
“Icebergs are like sleeping giants, floating silently, ominously. But you can’t get too close in case one wakes up, breaks apart, and shows us its hidden power.” – Owain
It was a pleasant surprise to be told that we could have our first excursion yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately the water was too rough to kayak, but we were able to visit Robert Island, one of the South Shetland Islands, where we saw Chinstrap and Gentoo Penguins, Fur Seals and Elephant Seals, as well as a stunning view over a collection ice-covered islands.
This morning we woke up to the Antarctic Peninsula, and perfectly still water. We set off at 7am on the kayaks in Mikkelsen Harbour. Our numb fingers and toes were a reminder that we are now in Antarctica! (We got the double-layered socks and gloves sorted for this afternoon though!). We also stopped to see some old water boats – relics from the whaling days. Here we also had a wonderful time as we watched penguins learning to swim!
This afternoon was a great contrast to the calm waters of the morning. Battling the swell around Spert Island was an exciting challenge, as we negotiated the swirling waters between sheer cliff faces, and had our first experiences kayaking up close to icebergs.
“My highlight would be kayaking in clear blue water, but also in the rough sea. The water is one of my fears so kayaking in the rough sea was a good challenge.” – A’aifou
We stopped for afternoon tea and were treated with a pod of humpback whales hunting near our boat!
Our third kayak session of the day was at Cierva Cove, a stunning landscape of daunting cliff faces and gigantic ice sheets. The water in that area was full of brash ice, which we had a fantastic time negotiating our way through. This was a particularly striking landscape, and was especially exhilarating to experience in the evening as the sky gradually got darker.
“I loved how blue the water is and how it reflects the ice. The rocks all blend in – brown, green, red, white – all the little pieces together.” – Jaylee
It’s been an exciting first day in Antarctica. We can’t wait to keep exploring!
“Everything was a highlight. Everything surprised me”. – Sadra
Written by Inspiring Explorer Ihlara McIndoe