Molting Adult Gentoos
My most amazing Antarctic experience! I sat down on a rock and this penguin waddled over and spent 15 minutes checking me out, he crawled through my legs, bit my pants, jacket and fingers and then just hung out next to me. Such a special experience to have a wild animal choose to interact with you.
By mid-March in Antarctica all of the new penguins had hatched and most had already fledged. This meant that many of the adults had left land for the season and were back out at sea. The young penguins were molting out of their adorable downy coats and getting their real feathers. The downside, fewer penguins, the upside, many friendly and curious chicks!The rules – stay 5 meters from the penguins, which was difficult at times because there were so many penguins everywhere. An interesting and fortuitous quirk of human-penguin interactions; the humans know the rules and have to follow them, the penguins do not know the rules and hence tend to do whatever they wish which led to many amazing penguin encounters. They are busy little creatures waddling around on land, preening, chasing each other, chasing an adult in hopes of a meal and splashing around in the water. It is unbelievable that these little guys can spend so much time at sea and survive in these freezing waters, they are real hardy animals. Again with the photos, if you click on them the caption should appear.
We were fortunate to sight many seals of all shapes and sizes during our journey. It seemed the fur seals were always posing for the camera, the leopard seals were either sleeping or hunting (the good life), the few Weddell seals we encountered hauled out on the rocks or ice for a nap, the crab-eater seals always swimming around checking things out and the lone baby elephant seal was biding his time before he took to the water. Note that the photos have captions when you click on them.
The Great White Contienent did not disappoint as far as encounters with ice. To the contrary we were dazzled by dozens of icebergs of all shapes and sizes, each one unique and beautiful. Additionally with changing weather we could appreciate the different facets of the ice. Only 1/8th of the iceberg is above water, the rest is hidden below which turns the water a beautiful aquamarine.
There is not much we can we say about our 2 week Expedition to Antarctica that can accurately convey its breathtaking beauty. How do you describe the indescribable? We had an absolutely amazing trip: we experienced Antarctica in sunshine, rain, snow and fog , had encounters with wildlife that we could never have even dreamed of, saw more snow and ice than our brains could comprehend, and overall fell in love with the Great White Continent. Pictures are the closest that we can come to convey what we experienced. This is the first of four installments of our Antarctica trip. We have captions for many of these photos if you click on the photo the caption should appear.
A captivating sunset over Antarctic waters
It was such a wonderful opportunity to share this adventure with my dad.
We spent five wonderful days in El Chalten during which we succeeded in walking ourselves ragged. Our saving grace was to recharge each night on every artisanal beer we could get our hands on. We hadn’t planned on starting out with back to back 20km+ days, but as they say ‘make hay while the sun shines’, and the sun rarely shines long on Mt Fitz Roy.
Our first day in town was amazingly clear and tranquil so we got out early to spend the day hiking up to Laguna Torre where we were able to marvel at the serrated mountain peaks and listen to the rumble of moving glaciers while eating our lunch overlooking a gorgeous glacial lake. The next day started out perfectly clear and beautiful and we were quite excited about the amazing views we had of Mt Fitz Roy. The hike was relatively moderate until the last hour when it took a definite turn towards the heavens. By the time we reached the top of the hill (or mountain as dad would call it) the clouds had moved in and covered the peaks. And true to form the top of Fitz Roy proved elusive for the rest of the week. Still we could not help but gaze in its general direction in the hopes that the clouds would break temporarily for another quick glimpse.
Indigenous hand paintings
Picking calafate berries
Atta boy! Easy does it! Hooves steadfast to the path!
Three horses grinding up the slope, sweat glistening on their flanks.
Hugo; Camilo; Cabeza; have faith in our trusty steeds.
For should they slip, or bump or trip; it’s a mighty long way down.
Camilo carries Mark alight, the leader of the posse;
Try to pass aside, a hoof will fly, she'll let you know she’s bossy.
Bek rides Cabeza, light and sound, quite likely to meander.
To her delight, when time is right, will drop into a canter.
Hugo trails the pack, Dale on his back, uncertain of his carriage.
With spirits akin, a curious thing, fond memory of mornings’ fodder.
We’ve found the spot, right at the top, stark canyon walls ablazen,
Tranquil waters of Laguna Carazon, disturbed only by our wading.
Ride ‘til near dusk, but worry not, for lovely is the greeting.
Exhausted you return, only to discern, a grand dinner there a-waiting.