The spectacular Lemaire Channel is the gateway to the far south of the Antarctic Peninsula and is one of the (many) highlights of our Antarctica cruises. The around a 150 meters’ deep channel lies between Booth Island and the peninsula and is about 11 kilometres long and at its narrowest less than 700 meters wide.
Lemaire Channel scenery
The channel is surrounded by sheer rock cliffs and ice and snow clad mountains peaks that reach a height of around a 1000 meters. Hanging glaciers tower above the channel and often drop their loads of ice in the crystal-clear sea below. Because of a strong tidal currents the passage is often clogged by pack ice and icebergs and therefor can be blocked for ships on their way south. The Lemaire Channel is also a popular passage for several species of whales such as Orca, Humpback whale and Minke whale, journeying up and down the sheltered Antarctic Peninsula waterways.
Lemaire Channel History
The channel was named for a Belgian explorer who himself has never set foot on Antarctica; Charles Lemaire. At the end of the 19th century Lemaire explored the tropical forests of what was then named the Congo, in Africa and he was honoured by his country fellowman Adrien de Gerlache. De Gerlache, who himself was one of the first to explore this part of the peninsula, was the first to sail through the Lemaire Channel in 1898.