We awoke this morning anticipating our last day in the South Sandwich Islands. We were fortunate to have excellent views cruising past Leskov Island, a unique island that is part of the Traversay Island subgroup. It does not sit along the main arc of the rest of the South Sandwich Island volcanoes. As we made our way towards the final island of our visit, the clear skies stayed behind us.

Approaching Zavodovski Island after breakfast, we were skeptical if the island even existed beyond the fog. Before long, views of this spectacular volcanic island graced us. We set out in Zodiacs to explore the astonishing number of penguins that call this island home. Zodiac cruisers beheld amazing views of cliff-diving chinstrap penguins and porpoising macaroni penguins. Blows of humpback whales appeared in the surrounding waters as white-morph giant petrels soared. Our final day certainly lived up to the scenery made famous in BBC documentaries.

Back on board the warm National Geographic Endurance, the island disappeared into the fog as we sailed away. Many of us were still in disbelief as we processed the incredible experiences that occurred over the last few days. Making our way west across the Scotia Sea, we enjoyed presentations by penguinologist, Dr. Tom Hart, and naturalist, Marylou Blakeslee. We learned about the “penguin factory” (the South Sandwich Islands) and arguably the most important creature on our journey – Antarctic krill. We blacked-out our windows for another night at sea, and we fell asleep eager for the next chapter of our voyage on South Georgia.