After making your first exciting landing in Antarctica, head through the Antarctic Sound to the eastern side of the Peninsula to reach the Weddell Sea.
Access to the Weddell is heavily dependent on ice conditions, and your experienced leader will use their expertise to design your voyage from day to day. Aim to make landings or Zodiac excursions two, and occasionally three, times a day. Days will be spent cruising along spectacular ice cliffs, following whales that are feeding near the surface, and landing on the continent and its off-shore islands to visit penguin rookeries, seal haul outs, historic huts, and a few other favorite spots along the peninsula.
There are many exciting places to visit. A sample of some of the places where you may land, hike, photograph or view spectacular wildlife follows:
Situated on the eastern side of Tabarin Peninsula, the spectacular 745-meter promontory of Brown Bluff towers over some 20,000 nesting pairs of Adélie penguins and hundreds of Gentoo penguins. Nesting skuas, snow petrels and pintados inhabit the upper slopes and kelp gulls screech overhead. Brown Bluff's volcanic origins have created some fantastically shaped boulders that lie scattered across the ash beach and make colorful nesting sites for some of the penguins.
This tiny volcanic island forms the nesting grounds of some 120,000 pairs of Adélie penguins, and the surrounding seas literally teem with penguins. There is also a blue-eyed shag colony situated at one end of Paulet's long beach front. Leopard seals are often seen cruising offshore, in search of their next meal. Weddell seals sometimes haul out here for a quiet nap on the beach. Apart from its plentiful wildlife, Paulet is also rich in the history of Antarctic exploration, for it was here that the 22 men of Larsen's ship Antarctic arrived on 28 February 1903 after their ship had sunk. The men wintered on Paulet, living on penguins and seals until eventually Larsen’s and Nordenskjold’s parties were rescued by the frigate Uruguay.
James Clark Ross Island
Separated from Trinity Peninsula by Prince Gustav Channel, the beaches and rocks of this mighty island are a mix of volcanic and sedimentary; creating a geologists’ paradise. The beaches are populated with kelp gulls while Antarctic terns and skuas nest on the island's higher slopes. Many of the island's rocks are decorated with bright red and orange lichens, presenting fantastic photographic opportunities. Ice floes in the surrounding waters provide temporary floating homes for Weddell and Leopard Seals. We may walk up to Hidden Lake, following a stream rich in fossilised remains of deciduous trees, ferns, and even clamshells. If ice conditions and time permit, we may also circumnavigate this fantastic island; a rarely-accomplished feat.
This very rarely-visited island was named for its two striking peaks or 'horns'. It is the nesting site for some 10,000 pairs of Adelie penguins. If weather conditions permit, we may walk up a scree slope to the top of the island's western peak. A few hundred meters in height, the summit provides superb views into Erebus and Terror Gulf. On the upper slopes, you may even see nesting snow petrels and Wilson's Storm Petrels. For those who are less active, the continuous commute of penguins on the beach and the accompanying skua population provide endless fascination. We may also cruise in our zodiacs amongst the large numbers of icebergs that are often grounded offshore.
View Point, Duse Bay
View Point is one of the few places where we may be able to set foot on the Antarctic continent proper. A British hut was built here in 1953 and an Argentine refuge hut was established a few years later. In front of the old hut are the remains of crabeater seal carcasses, which provided food for the sledge dogs. Thanks to the cold conditions, the well-preserved hut looks just as it did all those years ago – a fascinating place to get a feeling for the olden days of Antarctic exploration.
Other places we may visit around the Weddell Sea area and on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula are:
- Joinville Island
- D'Urville Island
- Hope Bay
- Seymour Island
- Snow Hill Island
- Vega Island, Prince Gustav Channel
- Beak Island
- Crystal Hill
- Herbert Sound
If weather and ice conditions prevent us from accessing the eastern side of the Peninsula and the Weddell Sea, your Expedition Leader may choose to make landings on the Western side of the Peninsula instead. You Expedition Leader will communicate this to you during your voyage.