Journey to Antartica Aboard the National Geographic Explorer – Day 6

The Lamaire Channel
Early this morning we sailed through the most narrow and most scenic passageway in our voyage, the Lamaire Channel.  Seven miles long and one mile wide, this picturesque channel is dubbed as “Kodak Gap.”

National Geographic Explorer entering Lamaire Channel, AntarcticaTowering, jagged cliffs greeted us as we entered this narrow channel that maybe challenging to navigate for some vessels due to ice packed passageway.  Ours was the first expedition vessel to pass though the channel during the season.

National Geographic Explorer on Lamaire Channel, AntarcticaLemaire Channel was first spotted by a German expedition in 1873 but was not traversed until 1898 by Belgian expedition who named it after Charles Lemaire, a Belgian explorer of the Congo.

National Geographic Explorer on Lamaire Channel, AntarcticaAs we sailed further into the channel, the waterway was more choked with ice floes.

Glaciers and bergs in Lamaire Channel, AntarcticaThis waterway is so splendid that it induced some lyrical prose from one of its early visitors.

A magnificent Alpine country, illumined by the rising sun, rose slowly from the sea; there were mighty fells with snowy crowns and with sharp, uncovered teeth, around the valleys through which enormous, broad rivers of ice came flowing to the sea.” – Gunnar Andersson,  Swedish Antartic Expedition, 1902

Glaciers and bergs in Lamaire Channel, AntarcticaThis spetacular but challenging field of ice floes may turn many vessels away…….

National Geographic Explorer sailing through icefield in Lamaire Channel, Antarctica…but not the National Geographic Explorer. which plowed through the blanket of ice like a piece of cake

(We learned from our captain that four other vessels attempted to traverse the channel within days after we did but had to turn around as the ice floes were too thick for them to navigate.)

Landing in Booth Island, AntarcticaWe made a landfall in Booth Island located in Penola Strait directly south of Lemaire Channel. The view from the expanse of the island and the sea was simply spectacular. What a beautiful white desert.

Desert? Yes, that was one thing we learned from this expedition – that Antarctica is actually a DESERT and is, in fact, the largest desert on Earth! Did you know that? We always think of a desert as a place so flat and arid. A desert is actually defined as a place that receives very little or no precipitation, whether rain or snow.

Antarctica indeed is the driest as well as the coldest, windiest, highest, cleanest and the most remote continent on earth.

Penguins in Booth Island, AntarcticaBooth Island is one of the few places in Antartica where three penguin species – Adelies, Gentoos and Chinstraps – nest alongside each other.

Penguins in Booth Island, AntarcticaThe penguins here were delighfully active. We enjoyed watching them trek from one slope of the island to the other.

Penguins in Booth Island, Antarctica

Penguins in Booth Island, Antarctica

Penguins in Booth Island, AntarcticaWe followed the penguins as they trekked to one of the hills and found that they set-up their rookeries on the higher ground.

National Geographic Explorer docked near Booth Island, AntarcticaThe expansive and breathtaking view from top of one of the hills of Booth Island

Hiking in Booth Island, AntarcticaWe hiked to the other side of the island and found an even more impressive perspective of the island and its surrounding bay.

Penguins in Booth Island, Antarctica

View from Booth Island, AntarcticaMore rookeries on this side of the hill and an even grander view of the surrounding mountains.

Hikers in Booth Island, AntarcticaWe turned around to look at the other hill where we came from and saw our fellow travelers looking like penguins descending on the trail.

Hiking in Booth Island, AntarcticaMaking our way to the Narnia-esque summit.

Booth Island, AntarcticaThe incredible view from the summit.

Booth Island, Antarctica


POLAR PLUNGE, SHACKLETON AND WHISKY TASTINGPolar Plunge, National Geographic Explorer, Antarctica ExpeditionBack aboard the vessel, while still on the calm water of Penola Strait, several of our courageous  fellow travelers made the daring polar plunge on the near freezing water. They said if felt great! (We intended to participate in the second polar plunge, but alas, the  elements didn’t allow for the right condition).

Schackleton Centennial Commemorative Parka, National Geopgraphic Expedition, Antarctica ExpeditionDuring  the 2014-2015 sailing season, National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions commemorates the centennial of Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.

Our parkas, in fact, were  special commemorative centennial edition complete with Shackleton’s patch.  (We had the honor of meeting Shackleton’s granddaughter, Alexandra, at the airport in Ushuaia after this expedition.  She was pleased when we showed her the parka. She said she had not seen her grandfather’s image on a patch before.)

Schackleton Whisky Tasting, National Geographic Explorer, Antarctica ExpeditionWe had several activities that celebrated the legendary explorer during our expedition – documentary, photo presentations and talks about his life and expeditions, and a tasting and toasting of the whiskey that was specially made for his expedition.

We sailed back in Lemaire Channel in the evening. The return passage was made more dramatic by the evening light beautifully illuminating the peaks and their spectacular reflections in the calm, mirror-like water.

Lemaire Channel, Antarctica

Lemaire Channel, Antarctica

Lemaire Channel, Antarctica

Lemaire Channel, Antarctica

Full Moon Over AntarcticaAnd just before midnight, we witnessed the full moon rising over the magnificent mountains of Antarctica. It was an incredible ending to a day full of polar amazement.


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Linking to Travel Photo Thursday, Weekend Wanderlust, The Weekly Postcard, Weekend Travel Inspiration

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

50 responses to “Antarctica: Lemaire Channel, Booth Island & Full Moon

  1. What absolutely amazing images. Absolutely fantastic. I hope you put them all into a book!
    What an amazing adventure you have had. Antarctica has long been on the top of my “want to go to” places. It is firmly at the top after yours posts.
    Happy travels. I am looking forward to seeing more.

    • Hi Jill, thank you! Such a nice compliment coming from a talented photographer like you. It truly was an amazing adventure and I hope you get to experience it sometime soon. You and your camera will love it there.

  2. Linda

    Gorgeous and captivating photos!!!

    • Hi Linda, thanks a lot,.

    • Thanks Corinne, it truly was.

  3. Beautiful photographs, Marisol. Well worth turning into postcards or calendars. I especially love the last ones, with the reflection on the water. So nice. Also, I didn’t know it’s considered a desert. I always thought of deserts as dry, and Antarctica is full of ice! Yay, I learned something new today 😀
    Aleah | recently posted..The Man on Koh Tao and Other Stories of KindnessMy Profile

    • Hi Aleah, thanks you! I’m pleased you enjoyed the images. Yes, that desert fact also came as a surprise to us.

  4. I have no words to describe the magnitude and the majesty of the scenes you shared here. Just awesome!
    Photo Cache recently posted..Venice at First SightMy Profile

    • Hi Maria, thanks. It was so hard for us to come out with words as well.

    • Thanks Britta, it really was amazing,.

  5. OMG these photos are incredible! I so want to do this voyage now. I can easily see now why more and more people are undertaking the Antarctica as a travel destination. I also adore those Penguins!
    Kathy Marris recently posted..In My Backyard: Marvelous Miami BeachMy Profile

    • Hi Kathy, thanks. I hope you can do this voyage soon. You will love penguins more when you see them in the wild.

    • Thanks Dan. We certainly hope so too.

    • Thanks Lynn. We were truly sorry for it would have been a fun experience:)

    • Hi Andrea, thank you, It was really great to be in a vessel that can reach some nook and crannies that many vessels can’t.

  6. Jill

    Wow! Just wow! Antarctica was never really on my radar – but it is now!

    • Thanks Jill, I’m gald to hea that!

  7. Anda

    What a gorgeous scenery and what an extraordinary trip. I so wish I could go there someday… Your photos are awesome and the contrast between the white snow/ice and your red jackets is perfect.v. And that moon appearing at the horizon… Ah!
    Anda recently posted..Why I Love Skiing in UtahMy Profile

    • Hi Anda, it was truly gorgeous beyond words and photos. I hope you get to witness it for yourself soon.

    • Hi Linda, it truly was a great opportunity,. I really hope you get to take this Nat Geo Expedition soon. You won’t regret it.

    • Thank you, Lauren. I’m so gald you enjoyed the photos. I’ll keep my fingers cross that you go on this expedition soon.

  8. Let me add my kudos to these comments – the photos are mind-boggling beautiful. Absolutely stunning shots and I’ve decided that what I like most about all your photos is your ability to capture that ‘sense of place’ that we all are seeking when we travel – whether in person or armchair. In this case from my ‘desk-chair/armchair’ you’ve taken me on a beautiful journey. Happy Easter you two!!

    • Hi Jackie, thanks you so much. I’m so pleased when people feel that we bring them a sense of place – because that’s the goal of the blog. So glad that we’ve taken you with us in this wonderful journey.

    • Thanks Paula. I hope you get to experience this trip fo yourself someday,

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, Rachel. I used Canon 5D Mark II mostly with 24-110 mm 4F/L and 70-200mm 4F/L lenses.

  9. Wow, Your photos are so inviting, and impressive. Antarctica is one of those truly magical places that I will probably only visit vicariously through posts like this one. I have always thought it too cold, but looking at your photos . . . so inspiring. And the penguins, how wonderful.
    Rhonda Albom recently posted..Egg Hunt with a Big Twist and a bit of New Zealand Fun #AtoZMy Profile

    • Thank you Rhonda. It really is magical and worth the trek. I hope you get to see to see those penguins for yourself someday.

    • Hi Bob, thanks.. Hopefully you’ll have a chance to cross the ocean southward someday.

    • Hi Christina, thank you very much. Keith and I are very honored.

    • Hi Jolanta, it’s our great pleasure. I’m glad that we were able to bring you virtually with us.

  10. Nancie

    Hi Marisol! You photos are stunning! I had no idea that the Antarctica is actually a desert. That kind of boggles the mind. I don’t think I would mind missing that polar plunge, but I would definitely drink to it (haha). Thank for linking up this week. #TPThursday

  11. Thank Nancie, I’m so pleased that you enjoyed the photos. I know, it truly is mind boggling that Antarctica is actually a desert.

  12. The pictures of your return passage through the channel are fantastic. I love how the snowy peaks are reflected in the water. Those ice floes are impressive, and it must have been satisfying to know that you were on a solid ship that could handle breaking through them. I’m wondering if this is your favorite trip so far. You both have so many to choose from.

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