After two bumpy days at sea, as majestic tabular icebergs came into view, we arrived at the third and final destination of our voyage: Antarctica, the White Continent. We approached the peninsula from its east side, where the absence of sea ice allowed us to follow the shoreline south.
Having enjoyed the ship cruise through the dramatic tabular landscape until our fingers chilled, we went inside to warm up and to listen to Eric’s fascinating talk on glaciers. And suddenly came the call over the PA-system: Emperor penguins ahead!
We pulled up beside a lonely penguin on a piece of sea ice as it was preening and posing for us. A few other penguins appeared on other ice floes here and there. What an incredible experience! As we went in for lunch, we were sure this day could not get any better.
Boy, were we wrong! Shortly after lunch, Lucho announced that there were more penguins ahead. We all grabbed our gear and went out on deck – and it turned out we had reached the end of the emperor penguins’ march from the Snow Hill colony, most likely just a few kilometers away. The captain parked the ship in the ice, and Lucho decided we’d go for a Zodiac cruise.
In dense snowfall and a thick silence only found in a few places on earth, we set out to get a closer look at the majestic emperor penguins. Some sat in the snow, some transited to the other end of their ice floe, and others went for a swim beside our boats.
Few of us had words to describe how lucky we were to experience this – what an absolute privilege. However, yet again as so many times before, we were reminded of how much our world is changing, not the least in this very precious part of the world. Very few have been able to visit this far south this early in the year.