From the National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Jan 11, 2011 - National Geographic Explorer

Magnificent ice
Nosing up to the ice

Antarctic Peninsula

Antarctica is described as being the coldest, driest and the windiest place on Earth: today we really got to experience the lot. Plan A was to visit the very north-eastern parts of the Peninsula. It all started at 5am as we sailed between huge, majestic tabular icebergs and the morning light was sparkling. As we approached the corner and changed course for Brown Bluff we were hit by a 100 knots wind. Now we know the reason for title of Mawson’s book; Home of the Blizzard.

It was amazing to see how fast waves were built up and how the peaks got torn off by the wind. Nice to be inside a very cozy and sheltered ship to watch a horrendous storm with hurricane wind force!

Plan A now turned to plan B: go west, back through the Antarctic Sound. As soon we reached the western side and were entering the Bransfield Strait, the wind dropped to a dead calm. Our skilled Captain took us for a remarkable ice cruise between all the giant tabular and sculptured icebergs. Now all the photographers had to deal with complicated light, blue sky, sparkling sunshine and compound reflections from the sea and ice. A grand challenge itself, to capture the core of Antarctica with a two dimensional camera. Additional was also to see the huge collapsed tabular iceberg lying on its side. Here you were able to understand we only see 1/7 of the icebergs above the sea surface. These icebergs are really huge “monsters” of frozen waters.

Plan B now became plan C: the ship will set course for the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula, our aim to reach Lindblad Cove, named after Lars-Eric Lindblad, the pioneer of Antarctic expedition cruising. Throughout the day several lectures were given, while those who preferred to be out on deck or on the bridge were able to count plenty of humpback whales. It is now the peak time for the whales to be here and feed on the seasonal abundance of krill.

Our galley team had arranged for an early dinner as we arrived at Lindblad Cove and soon after finishing a nourishing meal we were out for a Zodiac cruise. This time in a Zodiac, between huge icebergs, surrounded by feeding humpback whales and with different seals on the ice floes was the perfect end to a long and busy day with almost every type of weather you ever can ask for. Flexibility is a key word travelling in Antarctica as you never know where you going to end the day. It is an expedition!

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About the Author

Magnus Forsberg


Magnus was born in Sweden. Although he was formally educated in mathematics and physics at Goteborg University and Chalmers University of Technology at Goteborg, Magnus soon returned to his first love — nature. His interest in nature conservation, the environment, and history, led him to work as a warden for a nature sanctuary and bird observatory from 1976 to 1994. Among Magnus' many areas of study, he led an unprecedented eight-year project on raptor breeding while there.

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