Journey to Antartica Aboard the National Geographic Explorer – Day 4 

The day after our exhilarating first Antarctic landfall in Deception Island,  we were blessed with an even more rewarding polar experience – our first encounter with a penguin colony,  a glacier hike,  sailing through beautiful ice field, and walking on sea ice.

Brown Bluff, Antartica, National Geographic Explorer, Lindblad ExpeditionsWe made a continental landing on this day in Brown Bluff,  a tuya (subglacial volcano) which was formed a million years ago.

We learned  that this part of eastern Antarctic Peninsula is quite challenging to navigate. Thanks to the  ice-strengthened hull of National Geographic Explorer, we were able to navigate through this infamous ice-choked side of the peninsula.

Glaciers and Icebergs in Brown Bluff, Antartica, National Geographic Explorer, Lindblad ExpeditionsIt was a glorious morning as we approached the shore of Brown Bluff amidst the soft morning light and the magical backdrop of glistening snow covered mountains and stunning iceberg bits.

Landing in Brown Bluff, Antartica, National Geographic Explorer, Lindblad Expeditions

Penguins on the beach in Brown Bluff, Antartica, National Geographic Explorer, Lindblad ExpeditionsWe were delighted to slide ashore to the sight and welcome honks of the adorable residents of Brown Bluff – the Adelie and Gentoo penguins.

We were amazed to see penguins, penguins everywhere!  They were beyond delightful.

Adelie Penguins in Brown Bluff, Antartica, National Geographic Explorer, Lindblad ExpeditionsPenguins in Brown Bluff, Antartica, National Geographic ExplorerThe Adelies and Gentoos are two of the four species that thrive in Antarctic continent.  The Adelies are the ones with solid black heads and the Gentoos are marked with white earmuffs.

Penguin Colony in Brown Bluff, Antartica, National Geographic Explorer, Lindblad ExpeditionsJust how many penguins are there in this colony? About 20,000 pairs of Adelies and 600 pairs of Gentoos. (And they were just few of those we encountered throughout the expedition.)

Man taking photo of a penguin in Brown Bluff, Antartica, National Geographic Explorer, Lindblad ExpeditionsThe rule for us humans is to stay at least 15 feet away from the wildlife. But the penguins do not understand the rule and they keep approaching us humans, just like this guy who was eager to pose for a close-up.

Penguin Colony in Brown Bluff, Antartica, National Geographic Explorer, Lindblad ExpeditionsIt was fascinating to observe the penguins’ behaviors and way of life. It was a nesting season during our visit. We were intrigued by the stance of these penguins. The naturalists explained that they staked out a space for their nests, which they were closely guarding while waiting for their partners to bring them pebbles they gathered to create their nests.

Penguin carrying pebble in Brown Bluff, Antartica, National Geographic Explorer, Lindblad ExpeditionsHere’s a penguin carrying  a pebble on its beak to bring to its nest. Some of them dive to the bottom of the sea to find the perfect pebbles.

Penguins fighting in Brown Bluff, Antartica, National Geographic Explorer, Lindblad ExpeditionsAnd some naughty ones steal pebbles from their neighbors’ nests resulting to a fight. (Yes, they’re just like people).

Gentoo Penguins in Brown Bluff, Antartica, National Geographic Explorer, Lindblad ExpeditionsMale penguins present the pebbles to their partners the way human males present a diamond to their beloved.

Gentoo Penguins in Brown Bluff, Antartica, National Geographic Explorer, Lindblad ExpeditionsOnce they collected enough pebbles to complete the nest, the female penguin sits on it waiting for an egg or two to be laid.

Adelie Penguins in Brown Bluff, Antartica, National Geographic Explorer, Lindblad Expeditions

Penguin laid an egg in Brown Bluff, Antartica, National Geographic Explorer, Lindblad ExpeditionsOnce the eggs are laid, the parents take turn incubating the eggs, while the other goes to sea to feed.

Penguins, Glacier and Peoplein Brown Bluff, Antartica, National Geographic Explorer, Lindblad ExpeditionsAfter enjoying the penguin world, we moved to the other side of Brown Bluff to hike in one of the region’s many unnamed glaciers.

Hiking in a glacier in Brown Bluff, Antartica, National Geographic Explorer, Lindblad Expeditions

Penguins, Glacier and Peoplein Brown Bluff, Antartica, National Geographic Explorer, Lindblad ExpeditionsVolcanic rocks on the slope of the glacier.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe soaked in the pristine beauty of the Antarctic landscape and the amazing sight and sounds of its endearing residents,  and reflected how blessed we were to experience such wonders.


nside the bridge of National Geographic Explorer, Antartica Expedition, Lindblad ExpeditionsBack on board, we visited the bridge for the first time. Explorer has an “open bridge policy,” which gave us opportunities to interact with the captain and the officers and to learn about navigation, equipments, etc.

In the afternoon, we sailed towards the Active Sound while weaving through blankets of whites and we got to witness one of the amazing “ice class” features of our cutting edge expedition ship. Here’s a video of our vessel breaking ice like a boss. It was awesome!

, National Geographic Explorer, Lindblad ExpeditionsWe enjoyed the stunning colors and different shape and forms of the ice floes.Ice floes, Active Sound, Antarctica, National Geographic Explorer, Lindblad Expeditions

Sea Ice with penguins, Active Sound, Antarctica, National Geographic Explorer, Lindblad ExpeditionsPenguins on sea ice (frozen sea water).

National Geographic Explorer docked right on the edge of a sea ice, Active Sound, Antarctica, Lindblad ExpeditionsTo our amazement, our vessel docked right up to the edge of this expansive sea ice, giving us an opportunity to take a stroll on ice and have our “Ernest Schackleton moment. ”

Walking on Sea Ice in Active Sound, Antarctica, National Geographic Explorer, Lindblad ExpeditionsA few second Zodiac ride from the side door of the ship brought us to the ice edge. With an aide of a “bridgette,” we were able to step into the ice with ease.

People walking on Sea Ice in Active Sound, Antarctica, National Geographic Explorer, Lindblad ExpeditionWalking on (frozen) water!

People taking photo of penguins on a Sea Ice in Active Sound, Antarctica, National Geographic Explorer, Lindblad ExpeditionPenguin encounter on sea ice.

National Geographic Explorer travelers walking on Sea Ice in Active Sound, Antarctica, Lindblad Expedition

Walking on Sea Ice in Active Sound, Antarctica, National Geographic Explorer, Lindblad Expedition


Back on board that afternoon, we enjoyed a presentation about the penguins of Antarctic Peninsula from a penguin expert in the expedition.  After dinner, two marine biologists gave a presentation about Antarctic killer whales, which turned out to be a precursor to an exciting sighting the next day.

Dinner on National Geographic Explorer, Antarctica ExpeditionsThat evening, we were honored to be invited to a special dinner with two amazing National Geographic photographers – Sisse Brimberg and Cotton Coulson.

It was a full day of polar fun and a great evening spent with special people. We didn’t think if would get better than this but it did! In the next post, we’ll share about our Zodiac cruise in a cove with magnificent icescapes, killer whales on a hunt, night hiking and another penguin colony encounter.


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Linking to Travel Photo Thursday, The Weekly PostcardWeekend Travel Inspiration and  Sunday Traveler by Chasing the Donkey.

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Taking you on our journey one photo - and footstep - at a time.

76 responses to “Antarctica: Brown Bluff, Penguins Galore & Sea Ice

    • Marisol

      Thanks Jackie. I smiled imagining you doing the penguin shuffle:)

      • Livia

        Thais comentou em 6 de julho de 2012 às 16:11. Gostei do texto e me identifiquei (ptnacipnlmeire a parte de andar de metrô… no meu caso, metrô e ônibus! hahaha), tirando a parte do android e instagram, hehe.

      • hola buen aporte.una pregunta aunque nada que ver con esta sección descargue unos cuantos libros que posteaste yquisiera saber si has leído el necronomicom me resumirías de que trata. graciasmi e-mail:

      • F*ckin’ awesome things here. I’m very happy to look your post. Thanks a lot and i am looking forward to touch you. Will you kindly drop me a mail?

  1. I am so jealous of your adventures. I’m not one for cold weather, but penguins would make it all worth it! Your pictures are beautiful!

    • Marisol

      Thanks Kendra. True, those adorable penguins are worth braving the cold. Enjoy your adventures in Thailand and I wish for you to have an Antarctic adventure someday.

    • Marisol

      Hi Mike thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed the photos and the stories. We’re doing well. I hope you doing good as well.

  2. I am soaking up these posts and am thinking what an honour it would be to there. I imagine it is quite hushed? Can’t wait for the next day’s adventure. How amazing to be so close to penguins in the wild.
    budget jan recently posted..Deer and Daibutsu at NaraMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Jan, it was truly amazing to be there and be with the penguins and be surrounded by beautiful nature. Yes, it was quite so peaceful, serene and pristine. Yes, we felt so honored to be there.

  3. Ok, besides chihuahuas penguins are my FAVORITE animal ever, so this post made me so happy! I love how they really posed for the camera too, even though you had to stay back a ways! What a fabulous adventure!!!
    Jess @UsedYorkCity recently posted..15 Completely Free NYC Guided ToursMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Jess, Oh, I’m so glad the post made you happy. You have to see those penguins in the wild in person. They’re cuteness overload.;

  4. Amazing! This really must have been the trip of a lifetime. Those penguins!
    Erica Baker recently posted..NPR TourMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Thanks Erica! It truly was.

  5. I’m loving your Antarctica photos! I’m so jealous that you saw penguins in the wild. I love penguins and would love to see that someday. How amazing to get that close to them (love the little guy who was posing) and observe their natural rhythms of nesting! Can’t wait for killer whales next (another fave animal)!
    Anna | slightly astray recently posted..Giant prawns and bird’s nests in Chinatown, BangkokMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Anna, there’s nothing more delightful than seeing those penguins in the wild and observing their behaviour. . I really hope that you get to visit them in Antarctica someday.
      Marisol recently posted..Antarctica: Brown Bluff and Active SoundMy Profile

  6. OMG! What can I say. Throw in all the superlatives. This experience/tour is mind blowing!

    I wanna do this someday, fingers crossed.
    Photo Cache recently posted..Sunset Over the BayMy Profile

  7. Marisol

    Hi Maria, it really is mind blowing. I’m also keeping my fingers crossed that you get there someday.

    • Marisol

      Hi Kathy, they’re indeed lovable. Just wait until you see them in person.

  8. Sophie @ Sophie's World

    What a fantastic adventure! Antarctica is near the top of my wish list. :)

    • Marisol

      Hi Sophie, it truly was. I can’t wait for you to get there.

    • Marisol

      Hi Jenny, It really is wonderful to see penguins in their natural habitat. Yes, it’s true that they have very distinct personality. They’re like little people. Oh yes, they came much closer to us – by our feet! Sometimes it was hard to put much distance between us because the space available wouldn’t allow us to move further.

  9. Anda

    You convinced me, Marisol. I’ll have to take this trip. In fact, National Geographic expeditions have been in my plans for a long time, but they seem so expensive. However, I think it’s money well spent. You don’t get to see what you saw in Antarctica any other way. Are those red jackets mandatory to wear? Great pictures.
    Anda recently posted..The Weekly Postcard: Bodie, the Eastern Sierra Ghost TownMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Yey!!! I’m glad you’re convinced! I know going to Antarctica is not cheap and Nat Geo costs more than others, but if you go for this special trip of a lifetime you would like to do it right. Going with Nat Geo will be money well spent. We only have good words to say about our experience with them and we look forward to take more adventure trips with them. The parka will be provided to you and its for you to take home. It’s an excellent one and will really protect you from the elements. I can’t wait for you to do this expedition. I wish from the bottom of my heart that you get to go soon.

    • Marisol

      HI Lyn, I’m pleased that you’re enjoying the Antarctica posts. Yes, it was indeed a trip of a lifetime. I hope that you and your husband make it there soon and see the penguins in the wild.

    • Marisol

      Hi Vicki, thanks. It was really quite an adventure.

    • Marisol

      Thanks Vlad. It was indeed surreal. We’re still pinching ourselves until now:)

  10. Esther

    Oh my, what an amazing trip!! This looks absolutely fantastic. I love pingus. How great that you got to visit this very special place on our planet!!

    • Marisol

      Hi Esther, thanks. We truly feel blessed to experience this special place.

    • Marisol

      HI Betty, I hope you get to see it soon. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos.

    • Marisol

      Hi Leah, it’s really an amazon adventure and worth to be on top of your list. Glad you enjoyed.

  11. What an incredible day for all of you! Your pictures of the penguins in their natural habitat are just stunning. They are so adorable and ‘Happy Feet’ did come to mind. Thank you for all this interesting penguin information. That whole ritual with the pebbles and nest was so fascinating. I’m loving this virtual trip with you guys. We may have to win the lotto to do this family trip or wait until the kids pay for their own way :)
    Mary {The World Is A Book} recently posted..Adventures at Capilano Suspension Bridge ParkMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Mary, Yes, the nesting ritual was so fascinating to witness. I can’t wait for your family to do this trip; I’m pretty sure it will happen someday, especially knowing that you son is obsessed in going there. He already planted the seed! Maybe he’ll pay for everyone:)

  12. Bama

    Penguins are some of the cutest animals on the planet, and seeing them in action, in the wild, truly is a privilege, Marisol. Did any of those penguins come closer and even touch you and Keith?
    Bama recently posted..An Epic Love Story, RetoldMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Bama, it was indeed a privilege. Yes, they came as close to our feet. There were designated trails for people in other places we hiked and, of course, they think they were their trails, too, and they walked beside or just ahead of us.

  13. Agness

    It’s my dream to be there!! <3

    • Marisol

      Hi Agness, I wish for yur dream to come true.

  14. Marcia

    What a remarkable adventure! I love the penguins – they’re so beautiful.
    I had to smile when I read the part that they, of course, don’t know to stay the required distance away – they want their close ups!
    Marcia recently posted..Up Close to a Volcano in Granada NicaraguaMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Marcia, nice to hear from you; it has been a while. We really had a remarkable adventure and those penguins made it extra special.

  15. Nancie

    What a mind boggling adventure you two had. I love those penguins! The fact that they wanted to get so close must have had the experience that much more special. I love how the male woos the female with pebbles. I am always amazed at how animal behavior is often so close to our own. Your sea ice walk looks amazing too! Thanks for linking up this week! #TPThursday
    Nancie recently posted..Chiang Mai: Sticky Rice Tea for Travel Photo ThursdayMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Nancie, getting close to those penguins (or they getting close to us) made the adventure much more incredible,. And it truly is amazing how they behave like little people.

  16. Hi Marisol,

    How cool is that! I am intrigued by this continent, it’s the only cold weather spot I am dying to visit because I’m addicted to the tropics.

    Loving the penguin images!

    Ryan Biddulph recently posted..Kelli and I Are in Bali!My Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Ryan, you won’t regret leaving the tropical paradise for a while for Antarctica and those penguins will surely win you over.

  17. Corinne

    Marisol. This is the post! This is the post that makes me want to book a trip right now! Penguins! I love it! I love the photo of you sitting and watching. It’s great. Was it very cold? What was the temp? Thanks for once again linking up with #wkendtravelinspiration!
    Corinne recently posted..Spend Valentine’s in a Love Hotel!My Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Corinne, I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. The temperature was in the mid-20’sF/-4C. It wasn’t to bad. It’s much colder for us here in NY right now so Keith and I joked that we want to go back to Antarctica to warm up :)

    • Marisol

      Hi Rachel, they are really adorable. I’m glad you’re enjoying the series.

    • Marisol

      Hi Adelina, It’s worth to be high on your list. I hope you get to get there soon,. It’s really incredible.

    • Keisha

      haha this is so funny. Thats your only pic ? you gotta be shitting me right? hacsanb&p;hmon man i could go for daysss. Wheres your teeth? Smile god loves you man. 

  18. Freya

    OMG what an awesome trip ! I’m so jealous Antarctica is definitely high on my list (but unfortunately very very expensive). Those photos are totally amazing. I so want to go myself one day … I’m so happy you both did this trip, for sure the trip of a lifetime.
    Freya recently posted..10 Amazing Places to Hike before you DieMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Freya, as I told you in our emails, it will be worth every cent. I really hope you can do this trip soon.

      • Rena

        I registered to Squidoo, I wanted to post a lens today.But, I found contradictory information about this si0hhemm&#823t; do you think of site like Gather and Hubpages ?

  19. I have no words to say how amazing this post is… well and truly the adventure of a lifetime. The scenery is absolutely stunning!

    • Marisol

      Thanks Margherita! It truly is an adventure of a lifetime but we would love to do it over and over again,.

  20. What an exciting excursion! You managed to grab some really great photos of the whole nesting process from the pebble in the mouth to the actual egg. My girl enjoyed your photos, too. (Getting to look at this post was her incentive to finish writing one paragraph of her essay.) I had hoped to see some penguins while I was in Southern Australia and spent a few hours staking out the penguin nesting ground to no avail.

    • Hi Michelle, I’m so glad that your daughter enjoyed the photos (Hope she did well in her essay:) Too bad you didn’t get to see the nesting penguins in Australia. I hope you and your family will see the ones in Antarctica someday,
      Marisol recently posted..Antarctica: Icescapes, Killer Whales & Night HikingMy Profile

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