Daily Expedition Reports

Daily reports from our days in the field

  • The South Shetland Islands

    We continue to head north, moving away from the Antarctic Peninsula itself and over to the South Shetland Islands which lie across the Bransfield Strait to the northwest. These islands have quite a different climate to where we have come from, being wetter and milder much like their northern namesakes. This makes for a slightly different landscape to what we’ve already seen. Most notably, we see a lot more green than we have seen further south, which is particularly apparent at this time of year.Our first stop of the day, Sally Rocks, showed plenty of this green in the flats just above the beach, which then led up towards a sloping glacier. Read More

    • Feb 23, 2017
    • National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica
  • Mikkelsen Harbor & Cierva Cove

    Today was a truly Antarctic day in which we experienced two of the many, in this case opposite, faces of humankind. Antarctica was the last continent to be discovered and yet, in a very short period of time we managed to have a profound impact on its environment. During the morning, we visited an island and harbor that were used in the not-so-distant past by whalers as a base for processing their catch. Thousands of whales were slaughtered in the area and many blue whale skulls and other bones remain on the beach to remind us of those times. In the afternoon, the opposite side of our interaction with these gentle giants took place. We had a glorious few hours floating in our Zodiacs while some 60 humpback whales fed so close to us that we could smell them! Two sides of the same history came together to show us how we can actually change, learn from our mistakes, and make a difference.. Read More

    • Feb 22, 2017
    • National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica
  • Penola Strait, Pléneau Island & Port Lockroy

    After navigating north all night from south of the Antarctic Circle we began our day in the Penola Strait region. Pléneau and the neighboring islands, Petermann and Booth, form a dynamic funnel of currents trapping massive icebergs making for a dramatic setting to explore. Landing on Pléneau we encountered our first gentoo penguin colony, bustling with chicks preparing to fledge and adults beginning their molt. Zodiacs cruised the waters amongst the icebergs, spotting crabeater seals, Antarctic fur seals, and many seabirds. After transiting the picturesque Lemaire Channel before lunch we would spend our afternoon visiting the restored and historic Base “A” at Port Lockroy. Our day concluded with an intimate encounter of type B2 killer whales in the fading light of Antarctic autumn.. Read More

    • Feb 21, 2017
    • National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica
  • Skog Bay & Crystal Sound, Antarctica

    Antarctica at last! As dawn broke this morning we had our first glimpse of the mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula and by 0600 we were crossing the Antarctic Circle in Crystal Sound. Calm winds and glassy water, seals and seabirds, towering icebergs and clean white floes of sea ice surrounded us all day, making for a perfect introduction to this astounding place.. Read More

    • Feb 20, 2017
    • National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica
  • Off South Shetland, heading south

     Good morning, good morning! The wake-up call came through and many happy faces showed up to breakfast. Read More

    • Feb 19, 2017
    • National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica
  • The Drake Passage en route to Antarctica

    The Drake Passage spans 800 km of the Southern Ocean from the southern tip of South America to the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Known for its treacherous conditions, the Drake Passage bears witness to multiple low-pressure systems every year. Sweeping from west to east these low-pressure systems deliver an array of strong winds, high waves and cold temperatures. Formidable it may be, but the Drake Passage is our gateway to Antarctica and it was the first leg of our enticing expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands on board the National Geographic Explorer.  Serious storms may be a standard occurrence here in the Drake Passage, yet today as we became accustomed to our new moving home we were able to find our sea legs without too much difficulty. Read More

    • Feb 18, 2017
    • National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica
  • Drake Passage & Ushuaia

    Early morning, bright and breezy, birds in the air around us.  Not a bad passage at all, just a little bumpy as we climbed up the continental shelf slope towards Cape Horn. Well, we couldn’t go to Cape Horn because it is in Chile, but we could look at it from sea and wonder what it has seen: whales and sailing ships, storms and gales, sunny days and soaring albatross. We spent the afternoon in the Beagle Channel, land on either side of us, Chile to the left and Argentina to the right. Read More

    • Feb 16, 2017
    • National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica
  • At Sea, Drake Passage

    Once again the Drake Passage was being kind to the National Geographic Explorer and its gallant crew. Although not as calm as our southward journey, it was still quite benign compared to what conditions can be like when crossing this notorious body of water. I wrote this at 17:35 local time and very soon we would be crossing the 60th parallel, leaving Antarctica. Read More

    • Feb 15, 2017
    • National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica
  • Neko Harbor & Paradise Bay, Antarctic Peninsula

    Today it was all about ice, ice, ice. We sailed around it, we walked on it, we photographed it, we sat on it, some of us slipped on it, we took Zodiac rides through it, we kayaked amongst it, we even jumped into it, we put it into our drinks, and we loved it. Our morning at Neko Harbor gave us another continental landing and another chance to remember how much we love penguins. It started with early morning glimpses of humpback whales as we approached our destination. A languid Weddell seal watched us disgorge onto the beach and thread our way around the gentoos, upslope for spectacular views over the bay. Sunlight sparkled on the snow slopes all around and distant avalanches drew our attention and our cameras.  Everyone felt relaxed and happy in the unusually good weather and pleasant sunshine. The excellent conditions inspired an afternoon in paradise at Paradise Bay, just around the corner. Read More

    • Feb 14, 2017
    • National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica
  • Petermann Island & Palmer Station

    A morning of Antarctic delights awaited us on Petermann Island. The air was dry and clear, the temperature moderate and the winds low. On the water, a variety of seals—Weddell, fur, and crabeater—and gorgeous icebergs were highlights of our Zodiac cruises. On land, bevvies of engaging gentoo penguins were first in line at the shore, but soon Adélies also came along, tobogganing across the snow. A colony of Antarctic shags also breed there, the chicks now well-grown and almost fledged. Here and there ice-smoothed bedrock protruded through the snow in whaleback ridges shot through with dark basaltic dykes, tracing the pathways of ancient glaciers. Down by the shore a lonely cross commemorates three men from the British Antarctic Survey who tragically lost their lives in the area in 1982. Overlooking the scene from the top of Megalestris Hill is a historic stone cairn, erected by the French expedition led by Jean-Baptiste Charcot which famously overwintered there in 1909. We stood by the shore imagining their expedition ship Pourquoi Pas? moored in the bay, waiting for the sea ice to freeze it fast and secure to the shore. We pictured the scientific huts built around the shore for observations and experiments in all aspects of early Antarctic science, with cables strung from structure to structure connecting them to an electricity generator, illuminating the Antarctic night. Across the sound the precipitous mountains of Booth Island and the Peninsula mainland made a stunning backdrop, with the occasional rumbling of glaciers heard as they descended to the sea.Our return passage through the impossibly beautiful Lemaire Channel took us to the southern end of Anvers Island where the American research base Palmer Station is situated. Read More

    • Feb 13, 2017
    • National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica

Antarctica Itineraries

Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands

24 days
Expeditions in: Jan, Feb, Nov, Dec

Journey to Antarctica: The White Continent

14 days
Expeditions in: Jan, Feb, Nov, Dec

South Georgia and the Falklands

19 days
Expeditions in: Mar, Oct

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