The intrepid adventurers aboard National Geographic Explorer continued their journey across the Drake Passage under a grey sky and fair winds. As the ship approached the Antarctic peninsula, vigilant eyes were rewarded with brief sightings of minke whales and other charismatic wildlife. By midmorning, our explorers had their first sighting of land as the ship reached the South Shetland Islands.

Traveling through the scenic channels of the South Shetland Islands, National Geographic Explorer found its way to Barrientos Island. Under favorable conditions, adventurers took part in their first outing of the expedition – a shore landing to observe the penguin colonies.

On the island, explorers were delighted by the many gentoo and chinstrap penguins that inhabit the island. Additional appearances by skua, shearwaters, and cormorants added to the day. Not to be outdone by the birds, a marine mammal also made an appearance – the first Weddell seal of the voyage.

As the winds picked up, the explorers returned to the ship where they were treated to a special Captain’s Cocktail Hour to welcome them to Antarctica. Finally, we are here.