HDS27A23, trip log, Antarctic Peninsula-Basecamp

by Oceanwide Expeditions


Day 1: Ushuaia, Embarkation Day

Ushuaia, Embarkation Day
Datum: 22.01.2023
Wind: E-2
Weer: Sunny
Luchttemperatuur: +20

oday is the day to embark M/V Hondius, the beautiful 107 metre vessel that would take us to explore Antarctica. After visiting Ushuaia, the Southernmost city in the world, we embark the ship at 4pm and are met by the staff and crew who warmly welcome us onboard. After checking in we are directed to our cabins, followed by the lounge for tea, coffee and biscuits. The Chief Officer, Matai, gives us a mandatory safety brief, we all get involved in the safety drill where we are shown to our lifeboats.

At 6.30pm it is time for Captains cocktails to celebrate the beginning of the voyage with a glass of prosecco and delicious canapes. Captain Toni makes a welcome speech and we all toast to a good trip ahead. The Expedition Staff introduce themselves; it is interesting to meet all of them and learn where they are from. As the ship sails through the Beagle Channel, it is time for our first meal on board by way of a fantastic buffet. The excited chat at dinner is all about the journey ahead and the adventures that lay before us.

The next two days will be spent sailing through the Drake Passage, the place of the roughest seas in the world, but we are all hoping for a calm passage. 

Day 2: At Sea Drake Passage

At Sea Drake Passage
Datum: 23.01.2023
Positie: 56°37.5 S / 65°20.3 W
Wind: N
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: +8

Our journey has officially started!

After our first night onboard of Hondius we awake from the wake up call of our Expedition Leader Marcel. We have a busy day ahead of us!

After breakfast which surprises us with a variety of delicious treats, we start with our first briefing. At 09:15 Marcel is giving us all needed information about the Zodiac operations and guidelines of IAATO, so that everything runs smoothly, and we are all safe during our voyage to the white continent, including the wildlife and environment.

Just two hours after that it is time for our first activity briefing. We meet with the mountaineers David, Owain, Massimo and Gianni at the lounge and they tell us all about their beloved activity in Antarctica and what it takes to join them. They give great advice about which level of mountaineering to join and what gear to bring or better not to.

Talking about gear… it is time now to receive our Muckboots. So we get called by decks to the shell doors at deck 3 and are kindly asked to bring tow pairs of socks so the boots will fit perfectly. At the shell doors the Expedition team awaits us and helps us to find the perfect pair of boots for the upcoming 6 days of activities.

Once everyone found its pair of boots it is time for lunch. Again, a delicious buffet awaits us at the dining room.

At 14:00 the educational program continues with the camping briefing. Camping guide Saskia and Koen explain all about their favourite activity and we feel excited and well prepared for the adventure to spend a night outside and experience the Antarctic night.

The next briefing takes place 1.5 hours later and it is the Kayaking briefing. We get the idea that this will be a very busy and active trip! Adam and Matthew, our Kayaking guides, explain to us how the kayaking operations will work. Another wave of Excitement rolls over us.

At 17:00 it is time for the last briefing of the day. Julia and Dorette, the Photography Guides, give us a briefing and an idea about photography and videography will turn out to be the best memories from this voyage.

At 18:15 we meet all in the lounge for our first daily Recap, where Marcel and other members of the Expedition team give us short and interesting Information about what we have seen and experienced this day and what we are planning on doing the next day.

After this very busy and informative day we are all happy and excited to see and experience Antarctica and all the activities we are planning to do. We enjoy a delicious dinner provided and served by the excellent Hotel Team and afterwards we sit in the lounge and chat and share a drink and some stories with our new travel companions. What a great first day at sea!

Day 3: At Sea Drake Passage

At Sea Drake Passage
Datum: 24.01.2023
Positie: 61°34,6 S / 063°01,1 W
Wind: N4
Weer: Sunny
Luchttemperatuur: +5

This day will be a busy day!

Right after breakfast begins the sign-up for the activities in the lecture room: we start with mountaineering, then kayaking followed by camping. The excitement is high and even with all the briefings from yesterday, we still have so many questions… We are looking very much forward to get to Antarctica and out in the nature.

A short while later, Simon holds a lecture about birds that we will be able to see and gives us keys to how to identify and distinguish them. And we can start right after the lecture as there are Albatrosses following the ship.

A wonderful lunch gives us a break and the time to recharge. The start of the afternoon will be spent with “biosecurity”. This means all our outer layers, boots and bags needs to be inspected and cleaned in order to avoid the introduction of any kind of seeds or vegetation to Antarctica. We brush boots, vacuum pockets and the depth of our back- and photo bags and go with papers clips through all our Velcro to take out every single fiber we can find. It makes us see how much “stuff” we are actually carrying from one place to the next and spreading out and that, maybe, we should do this also at home – or at least more often. Once everyone has finished this, there is a reward in the lounge: cones of ice cream for everyone! That is a lovely idea.

During the rest of the afternoon, Pelin offers a lecture and introduces Antarctica under quite some different aspects – even the well prepared once among us are learning more about the 7th continent.

Once we emerge from the lecture, we hear an announcement: we can see land at 10-11 o’clock. A lot of us head outside on the bow, others up to the bridge. There is mostly mist above the water and some wonder where the land lies. And the surprise is big when the guides tell us to lift our eyes and looks above the mist and the clouds…we can distinguish snowy mountain tops. This is Smith Island the southernmost island of the South Shetland Islands and the mountains are more than 2000m high. What a beautiful sight.

During daily recap, we hear about the plans for tomorrow and then get treated again to a great dinner. And after dinner, there is more for the once of us interested in photography – Julia is holding a workshop on technical aspects in photography in the lecture room. And the kayakers are getting prepared for the next day too.

That was a preparation day well filled and spend.

Day 4: Danco Island & Skontorp Cove

Danco Island & Skontorp Cove
Datum: 25.01.2023
Wind: N-2
Weer: Rainy
Luchttemperatuur: +2

Finally, the day we eagerly expected arrives. We are in Antarctica, ready for our very first day of exploring the white continent. After delicious breakfast, we meet at the shelldoor to begin our Antarctic adventure. A very calm Antarctic day with no wind and high clouds welcomes us. Our very first landing is in Danco Island located in the middle of the Errera Channel, one of the most picturesque channels of the Antarctic Peninsula. Danco island is named after Emile Danco, Belgian geophysicist who was one of the scientific members of Belgian Antarctic Expedition that charted the area in 1898.  As soon as we step foot on the land, we encounter with our first penguin species. A colony of Gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis Papua) third largest of the all-penguin species in the world receive us with a hearty welcome. After observing Gentoo penguins in their natural habitat, we continue to the high viewpoint of the island where a breathtaking Antarctic scenery waits for us: glaciers, impressive mountain peaks and giant icebergs. We also spot our first Leopard seal (Hydrurga Leptonyx) during the zodiac cruise in the area. Some of us are very lucky to see leopard seal diving under their zodiac.

Another adventure waits for us towards the end of our first landing. This is a crazy adventure, only the bravest of us can venture: The Polar Plunge!

Such an unprecedented fun! Taking off our warm clothing, running into the freezing cold (+3C°) waters of Southern Ocean… It is even more entertaining to get back on the zodiac to drive back to the vessel after this very cold bath. But hot shower and delicious lunch buffet back at the vessel makes us feel warm again.

In the afternoon we reposition near the Paradise Bay to zodiac cruise with our Expedition Team in Skontorp Cove. Such a stunning location with sculptural icebergs and steep mountain peaks! It is a very calm afternoon with high cloud coverage that makes the scenery looks even more fantastic. We get incredibly lucky with wildlife sightings. Our Cruise starts with a sighting of a Leopard Seal (Hydrurga Leptonyx) lying down on an iceberg. We continue towards to Brown Station, one of the scientific research stations in the Antarctic Peninsula ran by Argentina. We see many Antarctic Shags/Cormorants nesting near the station. Then suddenly several Humpback whales ((Megaptera Novaeangliae) surround our zodiacs. We turn off our engines and we simply drift and enjoy the incredible gift Antarctica gives us.

After wonderful two hours in Skortorp Cove, we reluctantly finish our cruise and heading back to the vessel. Everyone smiles and acknowledges what an incredible day we had.

Day 5: Lemaire Channel & Petermann Island

Lemaire Channel & Petermann Island
Datum: 26.01.2023
Positie: 64 58.55’ S / 63 44.60’ W
Wind: E2
Weer: Partly Cloudy
Luchttemperatuur: +1

This morning at approximately 0530, we entered one of the most beautiful channels on the peninsula, the Lemaire Channel. This channel is considered one of Antarctica’s most photogenic passages, also known as the ‘Kodak Gap’. We have calm conditions with a sprinkling of brash ice and icebergs dotted around. Many of us were out on the bow, photographing the towering mountains, soaking in this immense landscape. After an hour of sailing south, we reached Petermann Island on the other side of the Lemaire Channel. This is our landing site for the morning, home to Gentoo Penguins, Adelie Penguins and nesting Blue-eyed Shags.

With a split landing and cruise, half of us went to the shore first and stretched our legs, many of us headed straight to the Adelie rookery first, as this was our first opportunity to see Adelie chicks! And we were not disappointed! During the cruises, many of us were treated to more Humpback whale encounters, even one that was bubble-net feeding near the zodiac! This is a highly synchronized feeding technique that only humpbacks have demonstrated. By midday, all were back on board Hondius, and we start our short transit northwest to Pleneau Island.

This afternoon we dropped all zodiacs and started our full ship zodiac cruise around ‘ice-berg graveyard’ and Pleneau Island. This area is still one of the favourite spots to cruise for many of the expedition team and we were absolutely spoilt this afternoon! Amongst icebergs of all shapes and sizes, rounded, pointed, some that looked like a dragon, there were lots of porpoising penguins and penguins on ice, which is always a highlight! However, thank you to AEL Chloe and Sasha, they stumbled upon an ice floe where 50+ seals were resting! Including 30 Leopard Seals! This is an amazing discovery as Leopard seals are solitary animals and so to find so many of them on the same ice floe was truly special! In amongst them were Crabeater Seals and Weddell Seals too. Yet another amazing day with outstanding wildlife!

This evening we had the normal recap, followed by a delicious buffet dinner. We were on our way once again, transitting back through the Lemaire Channel and towards Damoy Point for our first night of camping. At 2100, we arrived at Damo Point and we had 60 eager campers ready and awaiting at the shell doors. Group by group they were dropped on shore to start their once in a lifetime experience of sleeping under the stars, on the snow, in Antarctica!

Day 6: Cuverville Island & Orne Harbour

Cuverville Island & Orne Harbour
Datum: 27.01.2023
Positie: 64°40,3 S / 062°36,8 W
Wind: N-3
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: +1

The morning greets us with led-gray skies and a cloud looming over Cuverville Island – the place of our morning activity. The expedition team puts Zodiacs on water and goes for a scouting ride while we’re having our breakfast in the restaurant.

Our mountaineering party is the first group of people to come up to the Zodiac boarding area. Mountaineering guides are helping them to put all the necessary mountaineering gear on and after that and before any other passengers they are leaving the ship and get shuttled to their morning mountaineering activity.

The rest of us are waiting for a call and as soon as it is given heading to the shell door. Part of us goes to the landing site of Cuverville island to see the biggest Gentoo penguin colony on the Antarctic peninsula and part of us goes for a Zodiac cruise. After 1,5 hours we swap: those who were ashore go for a cruise among the icebergs, and the others are leaving Zodiacs in order to land and take a walk.

By midday we are back onboard. Hondius lifts the anchor and we set sails for the destination of our afternoon activity. In the meantime, we are having our lunch in the restaurant.

It is 2 PM and we are already anchored in Orne Harbour – a big cove with huge icebergs, brash ice and lots of wildlife. On the cape we can see Antarctic shags, Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins. On the ice we see a couple of Crabeater seals, and 3 or 4 Fur seals very next to the landing site.

It is 3 PM. Mountaineers are storming the nearest peak, kayakers are rowing heading somewhere, those who are ashore are climbing up a zigzag trail in the snow to the ridge wearing snowshoes and people in Zodiacs are exploring the cove trying to take photos of a Humpback whale surfacing from time to time next to our anchored ship.

At some point people on land and Zodiac cruisers swap and the activity continues. At the ridge where everybody climbs there is a colony of Chinstrap penguins and lots of lichens on the rocks. Besides the view from above is just mind blowing.

At 6 PM we are all back onboard. There goes a recap followed by dinner.

Day 7: Port Lockroy & Jougla Point

Port Lockroy & Jougla Point
Datum: 28.01.2023
Positie: 064°49,6’S / 063°30,8’W
Wind: NE4
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: +4

Today is an early rise for some of us. On the second day of camping some brave fellow travelers are picked up at dawns crack this morning before we make our way to Damoy point, a stunning coastal area on the western side of Wiencke Island in the Neumayer Channel. Our expedition guides welcome us on land and explain to us that the area is home to a thriving Gentoo penguin population. We are very excited to observe them up close and it turns out we are extra lucky today because three Weddell Seals are resting close to our walking path over the landing site. The gentle slope of hills at Damoy Point leads us to breathtaking views of glaciers, icebergs, and the surrounding mountains on Anvers and Wiencke Islands. Besides some strong wind we are lucky to watch some fellow travelers mountaineering up Jabet Peak.

Postcards Ahoi! This afternoon we are very excited to visit the penguin post office in Port Lockroy and take a closer look at whale bones at Jougla Point. This afternoon’s landing is split between these two points as the maximum number of people allowed at one time in Port Lockroy is very strict.

The Port Lockroy Station is located on Goundier Island and serves as a museum and post office. It is amazing to look at the stunning views of the surrounding glaciers and penguins playing on the shore.

Between 1911 and 1931 Port Lockroy was used as a commercial whaling station due to its convenient natural harbor and advantageous location surrounded by glacier runoffs. Right behind the entry area we are able to witness remains of these dark times in form of a whale skeleton lying ashore. After the breakout of World War II, the British forces established several secret military bases in Antarctica and Port Lockroy was transformed into the so-called Base A. Once the war was over Port Lockroy continued to be of service as a research station for the British Antarctic Survey and was continuously manned until 1962. In 1996 the site was restored and opened as a museum and post office, showcasing the history and daily life of early Antarctic explorers. Today, Port Lockroy counts as a historical site and monument under the Antarctic Treaty and even though it doesn’t contribute to scientific research anymore is remains open in Antarctica during the summer known as the world’s southernmost post station.

Many of us use this great opportunity to send a postcard or even a letter from the most secluded place on earth and get hold of some extra special souvenirs to take home with us.

Parallel to our visit in Port Lockroy we try to visit Jougla Point, a beautiful coastal area with towering cliffs and crystal-clear waters. Unfortunately, the weather and most importantly the wind is quite challenging that day which is why the expedition team decides to cancel the excursion to Jougla Point. Better save than sorry!

As the sun begins to set, we head back to the ship, exhausted but grateful for such a wonderful day at Port Lockroy, watching Gentoo penguins up close and sending our postcards on their way.

Day 8: Gerlache Strait, Andvord Bay, Neko Harbor

Gerlache Strait,  Andvord Bay, Neko Harbor
Datum: 29.01.2023
Positie: 64°50,2’S / 062°32,8’ W
Wind: NE-7
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: +1

It is exactly 4:30 AM and we are picking up the brave campers that decided to spent the night in Paradise Harbor, right in front of Brown Station. They spent their night surrounded by amazing glacial scenery, and a mix of soothing sounds, such as humpback whales blows, Weddell seals vocalizations, and the rumblings of glaciers. After everyone is safely back onboard, we sail back into the Gerlache Strait, to quickly take a turn to starboard, and make our way inside the Spectacular Andvord Bay. Andvord Bay from above resembles the shape of a Boot, and is usually filled with Icebergs, Bergy bits, growlers and brash ice that calve out from the surrounding glaciers. After this tricky navigation we finally reach a small inlet named Neko Harbor, where our morning landing will take place. Upon judging the weather very thoroughly, the Expedition Leader and Captain decide that we will continue the landing activities programmed for the morning, but not the Zodiac Cruise, since wind speeds are judged to be too high to conduct this operation safely. Half of the ship started the landing at 08:30 AM, while the rest enjoyed a Lecture onboard with Marcos, who talked about Antarctica’s origins, present and feature from and Earth Scientist’s perspective. Mountaineers are also outside, enjoying a longer hike up the mountain above the penguin rookery. Neko Harbor is a particularly scenic continental landing, surrounding by very actively calving glaciers, and a busy Gentoo Penguin colony.

After the landing is successfully over, we find ourselves sailing out of Andvord Bay, and then back again in the Gerlache Strait’s waters, now making our way north into what’s called Lion Sound. This is a small channel that forms between Anvers Island and Lion Island, known by its spectacular scenery of the tall and glaciated mountains, and potential opportunistic wildlife encounters with cetaceans and seals. The planned activity is a Zodiac Cruise, and we manage to exit the vessel, although under very windy and swelly conditions. We finally get a glimpse of a “Real Antarctic Experience”, with a display of what Antarctica can be like at times. We get some wind in our faces, and a spray or two over our waterproof layers before

returning to the comfort of our beautiful vessel, reminiscing on this great experience. We also observe how the Expedition Team managed to get all Zodiacs back onboard, a feat worth watching.

We continue sailing now north through the Gerlache Strait, and enjoy some quality education and entertainment onboard, in charge of the Expedition Team. First Chloe delights us with a Plankton lecture (so interesting!), and finally our daily Recap (packed with information) and Dinner.

Day 9: Portal Point

Portal Point
Datum: 30.01.2023
Positie: 64°30,1 S / 064°42,7 W
Wind: VAR-1
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: +3

Our final landing of this voyage was at Portal Point, waking up to slightly misty conditions the team completed another split landing. The first half were unloaded on the rocky ledges right next to the remains of the Argentine base with only really concrete pillars left to observe but also there to greet us was a fur seal.

The opportunity to stretch our legs for the final team was greeted also with a final continental landing and a chance to get a selfie with the flag of Antarctica. The weather is also

improving now with growing views of distant icebergs and plenty of fresh snow. The first time we have really encountered this on the trip. Seals were hauling themselves out on the fresh snow and shuffling along to a quiet spot.

Meanwhile the other half are taking their final zodiac cruise, about 6 zodiacs are out on the water and exploring the various bays but also the humpbacks are about, with some zodiac teams getting very close, but the most amazing experience was about to come for 2 zodiac teams.

Marcos and Pelin were looking for humpbacks and with their engines turned off were super surprised to see not humpbacks but Orcas or Killer whales up close.

Three of these magnificent animals approached the boats surfacing and diving under the zodiacs which was a highlight of the trip not just for the guests but for the guides too.

Sadly, it had to end as the zodiacs were again returned to the hook and guests back onboard the Hondius, although with Orcas near the Hondius eager eyes were on deck and sure enough they were spotted off the bow, in a team of about 6-8. What appeared to be a hunt with a humpback was more like a playful encounter and as we continued a pair of breaching humpbacks on the starboard side gave a further sight to behold.

As with all things they finally have to come to an end and with bad weather planned for the Drake Passage it was decided to leave Antarctic waters early and start heading North towards Ushuaia. Before the swells increased and the ship starts to roll we called the cabins down floor by floor to return their muck boots at the ‘boot party’ and Misha ran a photo editing workshop in the afternoon before recap.

Day 10: At sea Drake Passage towards Ushuaia

At sea Drake Passage towards Ushuaia
Datum: 31.01.2023
Positie: 60° 12.6 S / 62° 00.9 W
Wind: WNW-7
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: +7

After some fantastic last Antarctica day wildlife sightings, the promise of a ‘Drake Shake’ on the way back to Ushuaia was clearly preying on some passengers, minds but in general everyone on board was taking the potential bad weather in their strides.

The day dawned with overcast conditions and a moderate sea with a late, more relaxed breakfast greeted warmly by most people, only a small percentage of people starting to feel the effects of the lumpy Drake Passage.   As the expedition staff cleaned and tidied away the last of the gear the trip’s photo competition was launched in the library with a fine array of stunning pictures entered in the three categories – Wildlife, Landscape and Comedy.

This was followed by another couple of excellent lectures from Sacha about his journey to Antarctica and Julia concerning the medical history of Antarctica, as well as a well-attended Antarctica documentary garnished with lashings of popcorn despite the sea conditions gradually worsening, with the rumours of a map filled with reds and purples between us and Ushuaia. The slightly early departure from Antarctica the previous day though allowed the ship to make some minor course adjustments through the day to try and mitigate for the conditions by avoiding the worst of the weather to the north.

The hardy souls that braved the outside decks or the bridge (or maybe just glanced out of the windows) managed to log a small selection of seabirds during the day including a single immature Wandering Albatross which swept past the bridge mid-afternoon, Soft-plumaged Petrel, Black-bellied Storm Petrel, Wilson’s Storm Petrel, Sooty Shearwater, Antarctic Prion, Black-browed Albatross and both Northern and Southern Giant Petrels.

In the end though, we managed to avoid the worst of the weather and the sea, whilst a bit bumpy remained generally benign and with the raucous cheering voting system revealing the winners of the photo competition ringing in our ears, a relaxed first sea-day came to a jolly finish.

Day 11: At sea Drake Passage towards Ushuaia

At sea Drake Passage towards Ushuaia
Datum: 01.02.2023
Positie: 56°27,1’S/ 63°32,8‘W
Wind: WNW-6
Weer: Overcast
Luchttemperatuur: +7

There we are, our last day on the Drake Passage. Everybody was warned for the ‘pink/purple’ weather but the swell is not too bad for most of us. Altough the sea is rough, most people are in the lounge where Fiona presents a lecture about plastic polution and Saskia one about the Nordenskjold expedition. Later in the afternoon Mischa informs everybody about ‘the sounds of the deep’.

Compared to other days the buzz is quite at the lounge. Most people prefer to take their time to digest all the beautiful moments they experienced last 10 days. Tonight at 18:15h. we will toost on this great Basecamp trip during the Captain’s cocktail.

And then, after our last great diner we will enjoy a lovely slideshow compiled by Mischa with pictures from him and other guides, and video’s from Dorette. After that it’s time to pack our luggage to be ready for an early departure tomorrow morning.

Day 12: Disembarkation in Ushuaia

Disembarkation in Ushuaia
Datum: 02.02.2023
Wind: VAR-2
Weer: Sunny
Luchttemperatuur: +8

One last wake-up call. Our bags are packed when we head down for breakfast one last time and we are getting ready to disembark our dear Hondius that has taken us to one of the most beautiful places on earth. The past 11 days have taken us on a remarkable journey over the notorious Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula. It has given us a glimpse of life in these remote and sometimes inhospitable places. We have encountered amazing wildlife, made new friends, learnt and experienced so much together. We will all take away different memories of our cruise, but those memories will stay with us for the rest of our lives. 

Total distance sailed on our voyage: 1688 Nautical Miles
Furthest point south: 29/12/2022 65°10.9’S / 064°08.0’W


Reiscode: HDS27A23
Reisdatum: 22 jan. - 2 feb., 2023
Duur: 11 nachten
Schip: m/v Hondius
Inscheping: Ushuaia
Ontscheping: Ushuaia

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Hondius is 's werelds eerste geregistreerde Polar Class 6 schip en is van onder tot boven gebouwd voor expeditie cruises.

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