The Antarctic Peninsula stretches out from the continent toward South America and is said to be one of the most unforgettable places on earth. The peninsula is outlined by jagged mountain tops and commanding glaciers. A favorite breeding ground for millions of seabirds, penguins and seals, it offers some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities on the continent. There are a number of places to visit on the peninsula including the Lemaire Channel, Hope Bay, Paradise Bay, and Wiencke Island, each uniquely beautiful.
Lemaire Channel | Hope Bay | Paradise Bay (Harbor) | Wiencke Island
Giant cliffs that drop into the sea make up the boundaries of the Lemaire Channel. Such dramatic landscape has led to the nickname "Kodak Gap," referring to the number of photographs that have attempted to capture its beauty. Just 1600m-wide, Lemaire Channel is tightly squeezed between the mountains of Booth Island and the peninsula. Unfortunately, because it is so narrow, ice sometimes blocks the passage, forcing ships to find an alternative route. At the northern end of the channel are two, often snow-capped peaks, at Cape Renard. To the south is a scattered community of ice-covered islands.
At the northern tip of the peninsula is Hope Bay, also known as Iceberg Alley. Esperanza station was established on the bay in the 1950s by Argentina and is now the year-round home to many families, and boasts the first Antarctica-born child. The community consists of a small school, church, post office, and infirmary. A number of historic sites and museums for you to visit during your Antarctica travel, including a stone hut where members of Nordenskjold's Swedish expedition survived a frightful Antarctic winter in 1903. The Swedish team would later give the bay its name. Over 124,000 pairs of Adelie penguins can be found at Hope Bay.
Paradise Bay (Harbor)
Paradise Bay is a favorite location for exploration in Zodiac crafts. Visitors weave in and out of the continent's icebergs and glaciers that reflect in the icy waters creating a truly beautiful and unusual landscape. Seals and penguins can be found resting on the pieces of floating ice. Whales have also been spotted in the area, sometimes approaching within feet of the Zodiacs. Landings are not very common, but for many unnecessary; the tranquility of their surroundings is more than enough for most visitors.
Along Wiencke's west coast is Port Lockroy. The 800m-long harbor is the most popular tourist stop during Antarctica travel; nearly 6000 people visit during the summer months. An old British base has been renovated into a museum, giving visitors the opportunity to experience what life used to be like in 1950s Antarctica. There is also a gift shop and post office onsite to send a letter back home, or a photograph of the gentoo penguin that live nearby. Evidence of the whaling industry, which prevailed until the 1930s, is also found on the island. Displayed is a large fin whale skeleton. It is reassembled each summer, after the winds of the winter months blow it apart.