||64°43’.5 S, 62°57’.5 W
A glance outside at dawn showed that we had already arrived in the spectacular setting for morning activity. Then, the expedition activities began even before the wake-up call with the announcement of killer whales off the port bow. The day just got better and better from there.
We landed and cruised at Useful Island. The name derives from the whaling days when it was used as a lookout. We climbed to the top to look out ourselves – not to hunt whales of course, but to marvel at the amazing views. The mountains, glaciers, sea, ice and, especially the sky, were dazzling. Before enjoying this view, we had to first pass the sleepy Weddell seal and climb past the nesting Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins. Super fun. The zodiac cruise wound around the coast to see the magnificently brutal Leopard seal and crabeater seals plus a close-up view of the floating ice sculptures. Extra super fun. Not to mention that the sun shone almost as brightly as our spirits.
We had earned our lunch, but could hardly wait for it to be over so that we could get our afternoon excursion started.
The sun came out and the temperature was positively balmy for the afternoon climb to the top of the ridge at Orne Harbour. We were shedding layers all the way, but loving it. At the top the “Chinnies” were in full song and busy with pebble collection for nest building and other courtship activities. As this was a continental landing, we could have kept walking to the South Pole. We decided to skip that optional activity and take the fast, fun way down by sliding on our bums all the way. The sea sparkled in the sun for the kayakers and zodiac cruisers who saw Weddell seals, penguins, large icebergs and calving glaciers. The kayakers had a successful first run and were able to touch the continent with their hands.
At the recap Vide helped showed us the lifestyles of the largest member of the dolphin family – the killer whales that had started the day.
After a day in calm conditions the dining room was very full of smiling hungry faces, then the cruise down the gorgeous Neumeyer Channel got us all out into the sun again.
The evening was so pleasant as that the camping group was put ashore to dig their own “graves” (slots in the snow) and spend the night in the natural world. After such an action-packed day some were even tired enough to actually sleep.