Travelling south of 60
We - Mairi, Natalie and Lucy - have almost completed our journey south to join the others at Port Lockroy.
We are guests onboard the MS Roald Amundsen, one of the new, hybrid ships from Hurtigruten Expeditions which has a strong focus on sustainable travel. We’ve had an incredible time onboard, with uncharacteristically calm(ish!) seas and blue skies as we crossed the Drake Passage. The team mostly managed to avoid sea sickness, to take full advantage of the onboard meals and activities before we begin our comparatively basic life at Port Lockroy. This has included a number of science lectures – we now know all about the Happy Whale app – and our photography improves daily (we hope).
Pictured: Left to right; Natalie, Lucy and Mairi's first steps on Antarctic snow during a stop off en-route
to Port Lockroy
All of the crew onboard have been very welcoming, and we’ve been lucky enough to join the visitors on their excursions on our way. We stopped in at Half Moon Bay to visit the colony of chinstrap penguins. The colony at Port Lockroy are gentoo penguins, so it’s great to be able to see some other species. Next, we stopped at Orne Harbour, where we were able to step onto the Antarctic continent! For base leader Lucy, this means she has now visited all seven of the continents.
We’ve seen more incredible wildlife on our way, including fin and humpback whales, black-browed and grey headed albatross, leopard seal, giant petrels, penguins porpoising (leaping out of the water through the air), and many other seabirds.
The scenery is also more breathtaking than we could have imagined. We awoke on the second morning to our first sighting of Antarctica, and since then the view has gotten better and better. Vast expanses of ice, towering cliffs and glaciers, and a wide-open ocean. The colours are incredible. The ice is almost blindingly white, making good sunglasses an essential! Through the white of the ice, and on ice floes, the white gives way to an amazing turquoise blue.
With the sound of the wind and the cold on our skin, Antarctica is an experience for all the senses. Outside everything smells so fresh and clear, with just a hint of salt in the air, so that when you come back inside other smells can be overpowering – the smell of garlic, aftershave and beer are suddenly much stronger.
As far as commutes to work go, this has got to be up there with the best!
The other half of the team were dropped off by Intrepid Travel’s Ocean Endeavour at Port Lockroy a few days ago, and have begun the process of digging through metres of snow to open the base for the season. We’ll join them tomorrow, and can’t wait to hear how their journey south was. We’ll be sure to let you know!
Mairi, Lucy and Natalie