We've been in Antarctica for four days now and it has been completely amazing. We have been blessed with fantastic weather, which enabled us to cross the Drake Passage in only one day instead of two, thus kicking off our Antarctic adventures a day early. We've done four landings and two kayak excursions thus far, the first two on islands and then two more on the Antarctic Peninsula itself. We have a certificate on the boat showing that we landed on the Antarctic Continent on December 31st, 2015!
I've been completely negligent in my blogging, as it seems like every waking moment on the boat is filled with one of eating, drinking, landings, or kayaking. When we do have downtime we've tried to focus on things that Walter wants to do, so I spent this afternoon playing two games of Risk in the Card Room. We've also had really lousy internet access so there hasn't been much motivation to blog since it's unlikely I'll get to post it anyway. I just checked and was able to update email and a few other things, so I'm writing this in the hope I can actually get it online.
Each of the landings has focused on something slightly different:
Day 1: Chinstrap penguin rookery where we saw a lot of penguins with their eggs, plus a few Weddell Seals. We also went kayaking and had a close encounter with a small iceberg (say, the size of a large van), as it broke right in front of us.
Day 2: Gentoo penguin rookery with some eggs and a few chicks.
Day 3: Gentoo penguin colony with some eggs and chicks and a nice hike up to a viewpoint.
Day 4: Chilean Naval "Base" of about a dozen people in 3 buildings, plus the stinkiest Gentoo rookery yet, but only eggs, no chicks. We also did a really nice long kayak trip, where we got pretty close to a Weddell seal who seemed to be as curious about us as we were about him.
We've also had a pretty good run whale-spotting, with several more Orca sightings and also a humpback whale sighting right off of our veranda balcony. I've got a ton of great pictures that I'll post when I can.
We've continued to have a really great time on the boat and Walter continues his status as the most recognized one of the three of us. On several occasions we've explained that we're Walter's parents only to have people instantly say, "oh, of course!" And each day we call up room service and get "Walter's sushi" delivered to the room.
Tomorrow and the next day we'll continue in Antarctica, first at another Gentoo rookery and then hopefully we'll get to visit an Adelie Penguin rookery. The Adelie penguins are supposed to be the most playful and curious. And then after that I think we'll be headed up to the South Georgia Islands, home of the King penguins and fur seals. We'll be passing through some of the most krill-rich waters in the Southern Ocean, so hopefully we'll see more whales as well. Our internet should improve as well so I should be able to start sharing a few photos.