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OTL24-19, trip log, Antarctic Peninsula, Basecamp

by Oceanwide Expeditions

Logbook

Day 1: Embarkation, Ushuaia, Argentina

Embarkation, Ushuaia, Argentina
Date: 05.12.2019
Position: 54°49‘S 68°17‘W
Wind: N3
Air Temperature: +13

It was late afternoon on a sunny and beautiful day in Ushuaia. The first passengers to arrive to Ortelius at 4pm were and all the expedition staff greeted the guests as they climbed the gangway for the first time and hotel manager Sigi quickly had all the guests assigned and shown to their cabins where they will be staying for our trip. After every passenger was onboard and had a cabin, we had our mandatory safety drill, everyone seemed to enjoy wearing orange! We soon left the pier hoping that the conditions co-operate for us to have this fantastic adventure.

Before dinner all the guides introduced themselves and Claudia (Clouds), our EL gave us a little introduction about what we are hoping to do on our trip. Our ships doctor (Linda) had a ‘patch and pills party ’after dinner to try and keep everyone free from feeling too sea sick, the weather forecast looked reasonably good so hopefully not too many of us would feel motion sickness!

Day 2: At Sea, Drake Passage towards Antarctica

At Sea, Drake Passage towards Antarctica
Date: 06.12.2019
Position: 56°37.7’ S 65°31.8’ W
Weather: N4/5
Air Temperature: +9

Day 3: Drake Passage on route to Antarctica

Drake Passage on route to Antarctica
Date: 07.12.2019
Position: 61°19.8’ S 62°51.9” W
Wind: ESE4
Air Temperature: +9

This second day onboard begin much better than the previous one. The weather forecast was good, and we experienced a calm and peaceful night. Today will be a very busy day with a lot of briefings. This morning after breakfast, the guests are spread into 3 groups. By deck, we either assist first to the mandatory IAATO briefing given by Clouds in the lounge, either we do the biosecurity process in the lecture room, vacuuming our Clothes, picking up our rubber boots and our zodiaque life jackets, then we swap… Busy but mandatory morning due to the rules set up by the IAATO association and which Oceanwide is part. Zet and Lucas then present their kayaking and snowshoeing activities in the lounge. The briefings were not finished for today and, after Koen’s camping briefing we heard the announcement for our first observation of the trip, and what an announcement! Killer whales were spotted in front of the ship. Everybody rushed on the outside deck to see and enjoy this very first encounter with one of the mythical species of Antarctica! But it was not the only observation that we would do this afternoon! After the mountaineering briefing started, a second announcement for many fin whales feeding at 3 o’clock from the ship. For this occasion, the captain decided to slow down and try to approach them and we did! During twenty minutes, we could observe these 4 or 5 fin whales and their tails feeding with the horizon line in the background... An amazing sighting!

Last but not least, while we were signing up the list for all the activities that necessitates it, a new announcement from Lucas for a humpback whale quite close to the ship. Some of us were fast enough to see it, others didn’t have this opportunity... This is the third species of the day! Here we are in Antarctica, with the south Shetland islands coming. Here the Drake passage is over, here we enter Antarctica. At the end of the afternoon, it was time for Clouds’ briefing and the plans for the next day. Tomorrow will be our first genuine basecamp day and we are all excited to discover all the activities!

Day 4: Orne Harbour and Danco Island (Kerr Point, Camping)

Orne Harbour and Danco Island (Kerr Point, Camping)
Date: 08.12.2019
Position: 64°37.6’ S 62°32.6’ W
Wind: SW-2
Air Temperature: +10

This morning we awoke to a beautifully calm sea and clear sky above the staggering view of Orne Harbour. We had made it through the Drake Passage safely aboard the Ortelius and today we could begin to explore the Antarctic Peninsula for the first time! Standing on deck we could see the steep climb to the top of Spigot Peak where the mountaineers would be slowly trekking towards the summit within a few hours.

After breakfast it the zodiacs were lowered to the water and we began loading the first groups to go to shore. The water was incredibly smooth which made for a nice quick run from ship to the landing site. The first groups to land on shore were the mountaineers and without wasting time they began their steep ascent. The rest of the groups ashore tackled less strenuous hikes but still managed to climb up to some incredible viewpoints and see the amazing Chinstrap Penguin rookery. While some guests explored the snow-covered landing, several boats headed out on the first zodiac cruise of the trip.

The zodiac cruise began near the glacier where we searched for seals and whales while enjoying the epic landscape and several large icebergs drifting slowly through the bay. Before long we heard the call of ‘whales!” over the radio and immediately responded by zooming across the bay to where they had been sighted. Several minutes later we were greeted by spectacular views of several adult Humpback Whales blowing and fluking nearby. What an exhilarating experience and fantastic start to our Antarctic expedition.

After lunch we repositioned the ship and headed to our second landing of the day, Danco Island. Conditions were still immaculate and many of us were standing around in short sleeve shirts, soaking up the warm sun. The hike up to the Gentoo Penguin rookery was steep but fortunately the snowshoes made the climb a little easier and those willing to make the climb, were able to enjoy close-up views of the charismatic little penguins calling out, collecting pebbles, chasing off Brown Skuas and waddling up and down the hill after the next meal. Around the corner the most adventurous of the group attempted a challenging ice climb with our experienced mountain climbers Richard and Martin.

All too soon it was time to head back to the ship for a short recap and briefing with Clouds and some of the expedition staff before dinner. For a couple of us, the day was not yet it over and after dinner we headed out for our first night of camping on Kerr Point. The perfect conditions prevailed as we dug our ice graves to protect us from the wind. We all enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the bay before snuggling into our double layered sleeping bags to catch a few hours of rest before another incredible day in Antarctica. We could not have imagined a more perfect start to our Antarctic expedition. 

Mountaineering
Morning - Spigot Peak from Orne Harbour. 8 Guests, 2 Guides
Cruising overnight to the Antarctic Peninsula MV Ortelius arrived early morning into Orne Harbour. The sea was flat calm and the sky was clear. Our first view from the ship was the imposing landmark of Spigot Peak. A short Zodiac ride took us to our first continental landing. Conditions were mild but as the snow was firm, we were able to proceed in boots and crampons to the col on the ridge and fine views out into the Gerlache Strait. The warm clothes were packed away before heading north onto the ridge and the climb to the summit. Chinstrap penguins were busy on their nests and occasionally revealed their egg when swopping duties with their mate. There are good snow conditions on the ridge at the moment. We ascended the steeper final section to the small summit at 10.30. We were treated to sunshine and blue skies and magnificent views. A careful descent took us to the shore in an hour.

Afternoon - Danco Island 13 Guests, 2 Guides
ICE CLIMBING: Zodiacs dropped the group close to the ice cliff rising up above the shore. Three anchors were placed at the top of the cliff and three top ropes were set. Working in groups everyone climbed one or two routes using ice climbing axes and crampons. The glacier ice surface was melting in the warmth of the day providing good placements for the tools and a regular shower of crystals on the belayers below. Afterwards everyone went to cool off in the polar plunge along the shore !

Kayaking
Beautiful day with the Errera canal like a mirror. Morning kayaking around Orne Harbour and afternoon kayaking around the Danco island. We were lucky with Weddell seals on ice and penguins jumping around our kayaks.

Camping: Kerr point
For this night of camping the first obstacle was finding a landing spot. The Weddel seals had taken over the camping ground. Luckily they were willing to share this beautiful spot with us. While digging our holes we had the most amazing sunset with the colors changed from Yellow to Orange and Orange to Purple over a 2 hour time range. The pick up time was very early but, this gave us the time to sleep a bit more on the ship and to visit Port Lockroy in the late morning.

Day 5: Port Lockroy and Damoy Point (Kerr Point, Camping)

Port Lockroy and Damoy Point (Kerr Point, Camping)
Date: 09.12.2019
Position: 64°50.7 S 62°32.4
Wind: NW1
Air Temperature: +8

In the morning we payed a visit to Port Lockroy. This is a well-known and popular Antarctic destination, visited by almost all the ships that call for the Antarctic Peninsula. Today Port Lockroy offers a wide variety of Antarctic souvenirs as well as post stamps and books. Originally this building was established as part of a series of secret military bases erected by British Forces in 1944 in order to monitor any German or Axis maritime traffic in the Antarctic Region under the code name "Operation Tabarin". This particular base was named Base A. After the end of World War II, the base became a weather observatory until it was abandoned and later refurbished to make it the museum/shop/post office is today, as part of the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust. This is a non-governmental organization which runs this and other historical places located in Antarctica, bringing personnel every year during the austral summer to Port Lockroy and also, giving maintenance to this and various other huts. The visit was very much welcome by our guests who used this as an opportunity to send postcards to their beloved ones, and to buy souvenirs. Because it is impossible to land all our guests at once, we made two groups of passengers, the first one visiting the post office while the second made a scenic zodiac cruise around the area.

Unfortunately our second landing of the day was cancelled due to too much ice and strong wind conditions, and so Clouds decided that we would take a ship cruise to look for whales. This proved to be a very nice activity and we indeed spotted many humpback whales along our way.

We finished our visit at 6 PM, bringing everybody back on board for our daily recap and for dinner. After dinner, it was time to send our campers to land. Given the great weather we were enjoying, about 30 passengers decided to camp this night, leaving a very quiet ship behind. The evening brought great colours and views from the mountains and glaciers around; the long sunset gave us the chance to see a wonderful gradation of colours over a few hours, going from golden yellows to bright orange and ending with a beautiful touch of pink, fading in the high peaks around us. 

Mountaineering
Morning - Damoy & Port Lockroy 6 Guests, 2 Guides
A swift visit was made to Port Lockroy to post cards, buy souvenirs and watch the snowy sheathbills, nesting Gentoo penguins and the cormorants. Then, it was off by zodiac to Danco Point. Careful navigation through brash ice took us to land. The party used snowshoes to walk up the peak behind to enjoy fine views of Dorian Bay, the old glacial air runway and Jabet Peak. The groups descended to the old Damoy Terminal and Argentinian rescue hut. Unfortunately, nesting Gentoos made it impossible to enter the old hut. The group returned to Damoy Point along the coast. Ice build-up along the coast while we were away made access for the zodiac quite tricky.

Afternoon - Damoy Island, 12 Guests, 2 Guides
Cancelled due to ice along the shoreline preventing access for the zodiacs.

Kayaking
Morning kayaking at Port Lockroy. We Kayaked around the island and had to use our kayaks as icebreakers through the ice to go around. Had several Weddell seals on land close to the kayaks. Ended our morning outing wit a stand on the fast ice.

Camping: Kerr point
Coming back to Kerr point it almost seemed as the seals hadn't left their place. And this day a couple of penguins joined us as well. With a much later pick up time this day we had the chance to enjoy the beautiful sunrise from our bivy bags. And the heat from the sun certainly made it much easier to get out of our warm sleeping bags.

Day 6: Neko Harbour and Cuverville Island (Kerr Point, camping)

Neko Harbour and Cuverville Island (Kerr Point, camping)
Date: 10.12.2019
Position: 64°45.7 S 62°50.0 W
Wind: NW1
Air Temperature: +8

The day started early with the pick-up of the campers at Kerr Point, where they spent a night in their bivy bags under the Antarctic skies, in the company of some resting Weddell Seals (Leptonychotes weddelli), surrounded by glaciers and many icebergs. After breakfast Ortelius approached Neko Harbour, place named after a floating whaling factory, which operated in the South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula area for many seasons between 1911 and 1924, and which often used this bay. Because of a bit of wind and waves, activities were slightly delayed, but the weather improved and everyone was able to enjoy a fantastic continental landing, with visits to Gentoo penguin rookeries, a hike with snowshoes up to a viewpoint and a much more demanding one for the mountaineers; who reached a fabulous vantage point. The glacier, one of the most active ones in the area, calved several times, luckily not creating the infamous “mini-tsunami” waves.

Back onboard, lunch was served while Ortelius repositioned to Cuverville Island, in the Errera Channel. This island was discovered by a Belgian Expedition (1897-1899), under the command of Adrien de Gerlache, who named it after J. M. A. Cavelier de Cuverville, vice-Admiral of the French Navy. The biggest Antarctic colony of Gentoo Penguins (Pygoscelis papua), it is also home for other species as Kelp Gulls (Larus dominicanus), South Polar Skuas (Catharacta maccormicki), Antarctic Terns (Sterna vittata), and seals like Weddell and Leopard (Hydrurga leptonyx). Besides the landing, a long kayaking journey up to Kerr Point (Rongé Island), a photo workshop and a hike on snowshoes, a scenic zodiac cruise was offered, a perfect opportunity to appreciate the beauty and splendor of the many icebergs in the Channel. Following a briefing on the activities for the next day, a surprise BBQ in the helideck was the icing on the cake for a wonderful day in the “Core of the Antarctic Peninsula”. With the prospect of a day filled with activities in the neighboring Paradise Bay/Harbour, the campers were shuttled for the last camping night in the Errera Channel, and the remaining guests enjoyed an evening of total calm amongst icebergs, glaciers and blue skies. 

Mountaineering
Morning - Neko Harbour, 14 Guests, 2 Guides
Neko Harbour, named after one of the early whaling ships which moored here is impressive for the glacier carving into the sea and the slopes rising to the peak behind. With clear blue skies, no wind and mild temperatures we were equipped with snowshoes and from the beach made our way around the Gentoo rookeries. On reaching the snow covered glacier we roped up and made a gentle trail up towards the cliffs above. We able to look across and down to the north and watch the glacier regularly breaking away to fall into the harbour. We avoided crevasses to the right. Shortly before the bergschrund we stopped to observe the kayakers out in Andvord Bay and the glacier streams tumbling into the sea from the Antarctic mainland.

Afternoon - Cuverville Island 12 Guests, 2 Guides
At the northern end of the Errera Channel Cuverville Island has a flat snowcap summit. Snowshoes were ideal for making a steady rising trail in the softening snow. From the beach landing site, we walked up through the Gentoo rookeries towards to steepening slopes. A gradual rising traverse around the west side to the island brought us to the summit plateau. At the top we were treated to slue sky views of Ronge Island to the west, the mainland to the east and to the north across the Gerlache Strait Brabant Island. Descending the steep trail sliding in snowshoes was trickier than coming up ! 

Kayaking
Afternoon kayaking around Cuverville. Beautiful sunny day and the sea is like glass. First group goes all around the island and the second group ends up at Kerr point. Both groups get close meetings with Weddell seals.

Camping: Kerr Point
After a delicious BBQ on the ship. We left the noisy ship behind and went to our beloved Kerr point for some silence. While preparing our holes two Humpback whales came through the Errera Channel right in front of our camping site. It was windstill and the moon was almost full. We ended our night sitting by the water looking at the reflections of Cuverville island and the moon.

Day 7: Waterboat Point & Brown Station (Leith Cove, Camping)

Waterboat Point & Brown Station (Leith Cove, Camping)
Date: 11.12.2019
Position: 64°56.0 S 63°39.9 W
Wind: SW
Air Temperature: +10

This morning, after picking up the campers at 6am, we are heading north toward the so-called Paradise Bay. As we arrived in front of the Chilean Videla station, like every day, the passengers are spread into the 3 activities: kayaking, mountaineering and photoshop. All the remaining guests invited to go ashore and to visit this station at the entrance of the Paradise Bay.

2 buildings are free for visit: a small museum, where the Chileans sell some little gifts and souvenirs, and the main building. The kindness and the welcome of the 15 guys here are so amazing. We can either climb up in the observatory from which we have a wonderful view of the surroundings, either visit, their main lounge, where they offer us coffee, tea, and some cookies. The place is warm, very cute and cocooning, with a huge sofa, and everyone has the opportunity to share their life for a little while. The Christmas tree is ready for these guys who will spend 4 month far from their family. Everybody agrees to point the kindness with which they are receiving us. Out of the buildings, the penguins are everywhere and we can have a very close encounter, all along the paths less than 2 meters with these locals guys!

All the morning is dedicated on the visit of this place, the different group activities swapping every hour, in order for everybody, to have the opportunity to come ashore and to enjoy this very warm and peaceful place Lunch is served while we are repositioning, ready for the action at another Argentinean station, Brown station. The same turnover is applied for giving every signing up passenger the opportunity to experience kayaking, mountaineering, or a zodiac cruise.

We disembark all the zodiaques in front of the buildings. Zet take in charge the kayakers, while Martin and Richard, wait for the first mountaineers at the top of the first gentle slope. For the other regular disembarkers, Lucas offer them to reach him at the summit of the station from which the point of view on the whole paradise bay, is incredible! From it, the Ortelius looks so small in the center of this huge bay, surrounded, like everywhere here, by glaciers, huge seracs and ice falls. The traditional daily briefing occurs as soon as all the guest are back onboard and the plans for tomorrow sound again very exciting before going for dinner. 


Mountaineering
Morning - On Mount Hoegh from Duthiers Point 18 Guests, 2 Guides and an fine alpine leader
The objective was the glacier ridge descending from Mount Hoegh. The group landed south of the point at the bottom of a steep slope as the point was occupied by many Gentoo penguins. On arrival two crab-eater seals swam past. As we geared up 20 gentoo penguins looked on. We ascended the steep icy slope and on the broad ridge we arranged the ropes for glacier travel. The snowpack soon softened with blue skies and sunshine. The group ascended to 300 metres to a small rock outcrop below the summit of Mount Hoegh. There were stunning views into Andvord Bay to the North. On the descent one of the party took out a pair of Big Foot short skis and put in some fine linked ski turns on the slope down to our landing point – much more graceful than our snowshoes! Just offshore we watched at last piece break from an iceberg and the rolling of the berg in the water to regain equilibrium.

Afternoon - Afternoon Ice cap above Station Almirante Brown
Group 1, 18 Guests, 2 Guides. Group 2, 14 Guests, 2 Guides.
The party ascended the peak behind the station with views into Paradise Harbour, Then roped up in 3 teams to travel around the icecap behind. There were impressive views into Skontorp Cove where the Avalanche Glacier regularly carves large seraks into the sea. The sky became overcast offering a variety of grey and white shades to the view of Paradise Harbour, and a cold breeze was a rare event. 

Kayaking
Morning kayak has it all. Penguins, icebergs, Weddell seal and a 2 crab-eater seal. Afternoon kayak at Brown bluff was great with the huge cliff next to the Argentine station with all the nesting birds and the impressive glacier front

Camping: Leith Cove
Entering Leith Cove with heavily crevassed glaciers that filled up the water. We had a beautiful but, slow entrance to our Island, Islote Hanka. With Gentoo penguins awaiting us at the landing site we had a great start of our camping night. Without the wind the reflections of the mountains surrounding Paradise bay were absolutely amazing. We were accompanied by Antarctic terns that made is clear when we got to close to their nest. We again had an early pick up time that made it possibly to get to Portal Point way up north on the Antarctic peninsula.

Day 8: Portal Point & Cierva Cove

Portal Point & Cierva Cove
Date: 12.12.2019
Position: 64°47.6 S 62°49.1 W
Wind: SW4
Air Temperature: +1

This was the last day amongst icebergs and massive glaciers, so the plan was to make the most of it by visiting Portal Point (Charlotte Bay), the third continental landing of this Antarctic expedition trip. The place was used by the British to access the “core” of the Antarctic Peninsula, a small hut was erected on an outcrop, but according to the Antarctic treaty regulations it had to be dismantled eventually, as it was not used anymore. In its place, 4 concrete pillars reveal its former location. During the visit, Ortelius’ mountaineers went to the top of the glacier, while everyone else enjoyed either kayaking or landing with snowshoes on a small snow-covered peninsula with great views of the bay. On the way back to the ship a Leopard Seal (Hydrurga leptonyx), was spotted on a flat iceberg and everybody had a chance of seeing and photographing this emblematic Antarctic species, both from zodiacs and the vessel’s bow.

After lunch, Ortelius was repositioned to Cierva Cove, named after the Spanish aviator Manuel Cierva, nowadays an Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA), and also location of the Argentine Station Primavera (“Spring”). This base has produced countless studies on the biology and ecology of Wilson’s Storm-petrels (Oceanites oceanicus), leopard seals, and Chinstrap Penguins (Pygoscelis antarcticus); as well as alarming data on the heavy metals accumulation in atarctic animal’s tissues. During our cruise, great opportunity to play among the icebergs and explore the remote and wild coastline, several seals were seen: mostly Weddell (Leptonychotes weddellii), sleeping on floes o directly on the rocks. A few Minke Wales (Balaenoptera bonaerensis) were briefly seen, as well as a Humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae). On the return to the vessel, a very original rowing race took place: with all zodiacs lined-up facing Ortelius, the start was sound and all engines were stopped (well… not all…there was A LOT of cheating), one zodiac claimed victory, but nobody agreed because of the intermittent “help” of many engines. In any case, everybody had a great time and the rowers were congratulated regardless of their performance. Back on board with all zodiacs on deck, Ortelius sailed North towards the South Shetland Islands. 

Mountaineering
Morning - Morning Portal Point 12 Guests, 2 Guides
Another continental landing. A pleasant ascent up the sinuous glacier, initially adjacent to some fine winter cornices before climbing up to the summit plateau. Great views all around and especially of Mount Parry, to the north west – the highest peak on Brabant Island. Below, Charlotte Bay was littered with icebergs of all shapes and sizes. On the way down around 40 Weddell seals were sighted on the snowpack and on the return to the ship a leopard seal was hauled up on a small iceberg, pretty exciting.

Kayaking
Morning kayak around massive icebergs. After one hour Zet spots something on a iceflow he wants to take a closer look at. He asks all the kayakers to speed up and it is well worth the extra speed to get a chance to see a huge leopard seal from the kayaks. Afternoon kayakers had a playful kayaking including brash ice paddling a maybe first in history K2 500 meter race.

Day 9: Penguin Island & Turret Point

Penguin Island & Turret Point
Date: 13.12.2019
Position: 63°01.6 S 60°30.7 W
Wind: NW5
Air Temperature: 0

This morning Clouds woke us up between Penguin Island and King George Island on the South Shetlands. Almost no wind and perfect weather for an outing to Penguin Island. The island hosted everything we hoped for. 3 species of penguins, nesting giant petrels, elephant seals and a magnificent walk up to the rim of the old volcano.

For the afternoon the wind picked up and we had to cancel our afternoon outing and start our way North and out into the Drake passage.

Instead of a landing we all get invited to the lounge for an interesting lecture from Pierre about his research on humpback whales. And just to be sure to be as prepared as possible before the Drake Passage Doctor Linda invited those who needs seasickness medication to the hospital for handing out patches.

Day 10: Drake passage

Drake passage
Date: 14.12.2019
Position: 60°30.4 S 63°49.5 W
Wind: NE
Air Temperature: +2

This morning we awoke in the Drake heading north, we have left the glaciers and the icebergs behind. So, one hand for the ship’’ is the refrain but this morning the Drake is almost flat calm, with a swell of 0.4metres and a following current so making good progress. Early risers witnessed the sight of numerous fin whales at 0700, and one lunge feeding next to the ship, and around 0900 we pass feeding minke whales, and spot a sooty albatross.

This morning Clouds delivered a very interesting Climate Change lecture followed by Pippa lecturing on antarctic acoustics. Through the morning the ship passed through waters containing lots of fin whales, identified by their strong vertical blow and occasional dorsal fin. Increasingly we were accompanied by cape petrels and the occasional giant petrel.

Large whales were visible at a distance during the afternoon indicated by their tall, powerful blows, probably Fin whales. Christian and Tyson presented a really engaging talk on Penguins and finally after dinner Clouds gave an incite into the other adventures possible around Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic islands.

Later in the afternoon MV Ortelius entered fog, indicating that we are passing the Antarctic Convergence and saying a fond farewell to the Antarctic. Conditions remained reasonably calm into the evening. The ship continued at 13 knots, making good progress towards the shelter of Tierra del Fuego and avoid the westerly storm approaching.

It begins to feel like the end of the expedition is approaching as the rubber boots and life jackets are collected in during the afternoon, and Siggi the Hotel Manager broke the news that everyone would be able to settle their bar bills tomorrow.

Day 11: Drake passage

Drake passage
Date: 15.12.2019
Position: 56°26.2 S 66°08.6 W
Wind: SW
Air Temperature: +10

This was a day of good fortune! After some gentle rolling in Drake Passage, we awoke to calmer seas and light overcast skies. It appeared that Captain Yuri had successfully managed to navigate behind the storm and continue safely towards the Peninsula. Breakfast was served at 8:00am and the food was as fresh and delicious as it always is on the Ortelius.

After breakfast it was time to attend our first Learning and lecture for the day which was a fascinating talk by Lucas entitled “Why sea ice matters?” This was followed by some free time to go out on deck and look for wildlife or relax in the bar area. There was not a lot of wildlife around at this stage, but we did have a several Black-browed Albatross, Cape Petrel, Northern Giant Petrel, Southern Giant Petrels and a two Southern Royal Albatross’. Even for those not particularly interested in birds it was a lovely opportunity to spend time outside, breathing fresh air and enjoying the Drake Passage. Soon it was time to head inside for a very informative lecture by Pierre entitled “The International Whaling Commission and CCAMLR”.

After lunch we met at the helicopter pad for a group photo with the expedition staff before heading inside to watch a movie on rounding the Cape Horn.

A couple more hours of free time to look for wildlife in the Beagle Channel before our final lecture of the day by the enigmatic ornithologist Christian entitled “Antarctic Naturalists” which shared some of the funny and incredible stories by the adventurous individuals who discovered and studied Antarctica. A delicious and much-appreciated dinner awaited us in the dining room for a last night on the Ortelius. All in all, it was a fantastic day on the infamous Drake Passage.

Now that we have reached the conclusion of our great voyage to the pristine wilderness of Antarctica, we will have a chance to reflect on our time here. For us that have the fortune to visit this last place on earth, to be surrounded by its splendor, to experience and explore, to learn and to love what this continent beholds, we must be forever thankful. And we must, in all fairness, give back for our privilege and share with others what we have known and seen.
In 200 years, people will look back on this period and say to themselves, ‘How did those people at that time just allow all these amazing creatures to vanish’. If we all lose hope, there is no hope. There is still a lot worth fighting for.

As Margaret Meade, the Anthropologist said,
“A few thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Day 12: Disembarkation, Ushuaia, Argentina

Disembarkation, Ushuaia, Argentina
Date: 16.12.2019
Position: 54°49‘S 68°17‘W
Wind: Var F1
Air Temperature: +9

We awoke for the last time with a wakeup call from our EL, this was sadly our disembarkation day. We had enjoyed our two days at sea watching the sea birds, and it was with mixed emotions we found ourselves in Ushuaia, happy to have had an amazing trip but sad that it was now over. After our breakfast on board we said our goodbyes, and left the good ship Ortelius, although our trip was over it was simply fantastic and all of us have memories to last a lifetime.

Thank you all for such a wonderful voyage, for your company, good humour and enthusiasm. We hope to see you again in the future,
wherever that might be!

Total Distance Sailed: 1791 Nautical Miles

On behalf of Oceanwide Expeditions Captain Yury Marin Expedition Leader Claudia Holgate Hotel Manager Sigi all the crew and staff it has been a pleasure travelling with you

Details

Tripcode: OTL24-19
Dates: 5 Dec – 16 Dec, 2019
Duration: 11 nights
Ship: m/v Ortelius
Embark: Ushuaia
Disembark: Ushuaia

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