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Antarctic Explorer – Day 7: Lemaire Channel, Petermann Island & Pleneau Bay

Expedition Map

 Day 7

4 January 2014

The wake up call was much earlier today – 06:30am. The ship was going to try an attempt the icy Lemaire channel crossing. During the current Antarctica season it had attempted it 6 times and was successful only once. Would we be successful today?

At 06:45am I was outside on deck to witness the great navigation by the bridge crew as we cruised around icebergs and above smaller pieces of ice.

At its narrowest the Lemaire Channel is only 800m wide and it has 2 peaks, 900m and 1100m in height on either side.

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I’ve read that this place also has the nickname “Kodak Gap” as it is the most photographed place in Antarctica due to its amazing beauty.

 

I just loved the reflections.

At 7am we all assembled at the bow of the ship for a group photo as we were successfully making it through. I then went for breakfast while the skiers were getting ready to be dropped off the ship at a nearby Hovgaard Island.

After breakfast we got off at Petermann Island.

Another 2 colonies if Adelie Penguims on Petermann Island Antarctica with their hatched penguin chicks. With @quarkexpeditions OceanDiamond
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It is an amazing island with stunning vistas of small lakes, mountains, the sea, Adelie penguins and Antarctic Cormorants. We were lucky to see the penguin chicks that just hatched a few days ago.

And..

There were shags perched on the rocks. I even witnessed a fight in the penguin colony.

 

And some penguins swimming in a small pond.

It’s just an amazing place.

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After walking on the island I went zodiac cruising around the island.

And saw some more blue ice bergs.

This iceberg had a piece of rock lodged in it. It probably was part of the continent but got detached from the surface by a glacier before breaking off with this iceberg. Who knows how many hundred or thousands of years old this rock is?

Here is a crabeater seal that we saw:

We then returned to the ship for lunch.

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After lunch we got off the ship again for a zodiac cruise in Pleneau Bay. Simon (the expedition photo guide) was the driver on my zodiac. Simon is one of the best zodiac drivers in my opinion as he allows you to opportunity to get the best photos and see the most interesting sights.

We got to see a leopard seal (which was quite evasive).

And see some interesting icebergs, including a double arched ice berg.

Pleneau Bay is regarded as an ice berg cemetery as ice bergs that flow in are trapped until they melt away  die.

And..

Blue eyed Antarctic Cormorants / shags were getting out of the water nearby.

Once I was back on board the ship it was the moment we were all dreading yet looking forward to. It was Polar Plunge time. I jumped into the freezing cold (between zero and one degrees Celsius) Antarctica Water in Pleneau Bay.

The water is extremely salty and cold and you get a stinging sensation when you jump in. After the jump I dried up and waited about 20 minutes before taking a warm shower – I don’t want to shock my body with hot water after a cold plunge.

 

Once everyone was back on board we then set sail for the Lemaire Channel.

It was just as amazing going out as it was going in. Once out we started heading back towards the Drake Passage to Ushuaia.

After supper that night I headed for the Observation Lounge to see us enter the Drake Passage. We knew we were already in it as the waters were no longer as calm as they were by the Antarctic Peninsula. It was sad to see the mountains of Antarctica behind us, getting smaller on the horizon. Now and then we would see an iceberg float by. I was surprised to see an iceberg with so many penguins floating on it. How did they get this far out from land?

I then saw another small iceberg with a solo penguin on it – poor chap! It reminded me of a scene from one of  the animated Ice Age movies.

At 9:30 pm there was a short expedition briefing and then the crew show began. We learnt that 61 passengers jumped into the water, and most of the jumpers were also those “crazy people” who went camping.

The crew show was hilarious and entertaining. This ship does not have Vegas style shows with trained dancers and singers like larger cruise ships. Basically, any crew member who believes they have a talent can come and put on a show for the rest of the guests. We loved it.

I was at the computer station in the main lounge until 2am uploading my best pictures so that it can make it onto a DVD that will be shared with all passengers. If I missed a great photo shot I could still get that picture or perspective from another person.

I traveled to Antarctica on the Ocean Diamond with Quark Expeditions from 29 December 2013 – 7 January 2014 and booked my trip with Sarah at Freestyle Adventure Travel – whom I highly recommend!

About Zaid

Zaid is an intrepid traveler from South Africa that has traveled to all 7 continents. He loves to explore new destinations, experience new activities and go off the beaten path.
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