Day 7. Danco Island and Neko Harbour
It’s happening again. I didn’t think it could get any better but then it does!
This morning my leopard group is the first landing on Danco Island. The sun is out and the sky is blue, in sharp contrast to the ice and snow. It’s the first time we get out really early with the sun and can hike up some hill for even more stunning views. I have a 360 degree view of the ocean, ice, mountains, snow, penguins, islands…
After enjoying the view and wildlife for a while it’s time to get back in the zodiacs for our cruise. We are now again getting really close to Humpback and Minke whales, it’s as impressive as the first time.
In the afternoon we get out at Neko Harbour. This time it’s first the zodiac cruise. After having been so long just on our own and occasionally seeing another ship, it’s really disturbing to suddenly have a helicopter fly over us. It must be from another ship that even brings out tourists on flights. Luckily the wildlife doesn’t feel to disturbed, on the contrary, we get real close to whales and seals.
Too soon we get off for our landing. We can walk up another hill, sitting up there in the snow a long time just watching penguins and the landscape. Penguins are just incredibly funny to watch. The way they walk and sometimes chase each other, falling down on their belly, getting up and continuing to chase is hilarious. I made some movies but cannot upload them from my phone, you still have to wait a while for it….
It’s then very hard to say goodbye and get back on the ship. Some crew members are out there in the sunset and trying kayaking or stand up paddling. It’s the last Antarctica cruise of the season and it’s nice to see how also the crew gets rewarded. All look forward to get back home after at least 3 months on the ship without any day off. We all gather for a goodbye picture before we have another great dinner.
At night we moved into the Drake Passage but not on the direct route. In fact, the captain decided at night to turn around to avoid a storm and take a different route. I already took some sea sickness pills before sleeping and more in the morning. I don’t feel well but it’s kind of OK in the morning where I attend a lecture on seals before going back into my bed. It feels best when I can lay down and as the pills make me sleepy I actually sleep till lunch time. Well, once I am at the table I feel very bad, I go outside but I am not better, rather throwing up now. So I go back to bed and sleep more. The waves are between 3-5 meters high and while I think it’s already bad, someone tells me that the Drake Passage has 10 levels with 10 being the roughest with 11m waves… Now we are only at level 2. But it’s still a rough sea and all I do is sleeping. At least I feel OK in my bed. I try to go for dinner but cannot handle, throwing up once more. While my friends have fun I watch a movie and sleep through the night.
Day 9. Drake Passage
This morning Marna proposed that I could take her different sea sickness pills and so I try it. I feel already a bit better this morning anyway and it seems the other pills are much better for me. I can attend the very interesting presentation by our Polish guide Miko on living at an Antarctica station. I also manage some easy ground level yoga, lunch and a award winning movie on the Orcas living at Sea World, called Blackfish. I also pack and give away a few clothes I cannot carry once I am back hiking.
Then we are again lucky. Due to the altered route we took to avoid the storm, we are close to Cape Horn now. Cape Horn being in Chile we would normally only be allowed to come as close as 11 nautical sea miles. Luckily the capitain and the crew know the Chilean well and get permission to get as close as necessary! Around 6.30 pm I am outside with a few others, watching Cape Horn in the mist. Then it’s goodbye cocktail time, dinner time and finally we see a slide show on our best trip pictures before going to bed.
Day 10. Ushuaia
We are supposed to get off board at 8.15am but for some reason just off the Ushuaia pier we have a power outage and cannot land yet. Finally at 11am we can go off board. I already said goodbye to Antarctica during the last two days but it’s hard to say goodbye to my new friends. I look forward to hiking and a little bit to being on my own, but I know I will miss their company.
It’s been one of the most impressive journeys of my life, in a few days I saw so much and I don’t think my description or my pictures can really show the reality of Antarctica. Maybe you have to go there to feel how special this place is. Let’s try and keep it like this.