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.
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.
We were amazed to see penguins, penguins everywhere! They were beyond delightful.
The 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.
It 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.
Back 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!
To 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. ”
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.
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.