For avid travellers interested in Antarctic expedition vacations like those we can offer here at WILDFOOT, this latest story of a journey to this incredible part of the world by one of our travel advisers should make for fascinating reading. In this blog post, our intrepid staffer reflects on days four and five of their trip.
I woke early and made my way out on to the front deck to grab some fresh air before breakfast and was pleasantly surprised to see blue skies and relatively calm seas, were we being treated to ‘Drake Lake’ as opposed to the much feared ‘Drake Quake’, and if so, how long would it last? It so happened it lasted much of the day, we couldn’t have asked for a better crossing. Consequently, most of us spent the day flitting between the various lectures that the expedition crew were doing and out on deck looking for cetaceans and birds. Drake’s Passage is a hot spot for tubenoses and we were not disappointed with good sightings of sooty shearwaters, Wilson’s storm petrels, black-browed albatross, southern giant petrels, slender-billed prions and white-chinned petrels and one of nature’s ultimate flyers, the wandering albatross. Unfortunately, the only hint of a cetacean was a distant blow, which no one felt confident enough to give a positive ID of, however little beats the feeling of not knowing what you will see next, anticipation was high!
We woke up to the good news that we were slightly ahead of schedule due to the favourable weather, so an afternoon landing looked likely. Therefore, after breakfast we all headed to the lounge for the mandatory IATTO and zodiac briefing in preparation for this afternoon’s activity, this involved us being taught the ‘do and don’ts of landing in Antarctic. Mid briefing, an announcement came over the tannoy letting us know that our first iceberg, and with this the solid land of the South Shetlands, was now in sight, which as you can imagine, caused a flurry of excitement as people dashed to get cameras and get out on deck.
After lunch it was time to don our waterproofs and muck boots and head to the back of the boat to board the zodiacs. Our chosen landing site was Barrientos, a part of the Aitcho islands, it is situated in the English Strait between Robert and Greenwich islands and offers some of the most dramatic scenery in the South Islands. It is home to both nesting gentoo and chinstrap penguins so was the perfect starting place.