Our fearless expedition leader Sheri saved the best for last. We have been so lucky on this trip, and our last day down on the peninsula was nothing but spectacular. We spent our morning in Neko Harbour amongst nesting gentoo penguins that made their summer homes against the stunning backdrop of an advancing and calving glacier. Perched on a hilltop, exploring Neko Harbour instills a sense of awe unparalleled by any of our destinations. It is a place where you can be on trails speckled with travelers, amongst the cacophony and smells of a penguin colony, but still manage to find a moment of inner quiet and peace. There is the chance to truly feel that you are solidly standing on continental Antarctica, absorbing the beauty of the ends of the Earth.
We managed to have ALL the weather of Antarctica today: thick fog, driving snow, blue skies, and bright sunshine. It led to an exhilarating afternoon of Zodiac cruising in Skontorp Cove, where we had all four conditions almost simultaneously. Zodiac groups wove between icebergs in a beautiful bay surrounded by towering mountains that emerged from the clouds every so often in the dramatic spotlight of sunbeams. The bay delighted guests. We had sightings of nesting blue-eyed shags, Antarctic terns, and Cape petrels. Macro enthusiasts “oooooooohed” and “awwwwwwwed” over the vibrant lichens, mosses, and algae coating the coastal cliff faces. Those more partial to charismatic megafauna were charmed by hauled out Weddell seals, surfacing humpback whales, and even a lone leopard seal resting on a small iceberg.
It was a fantastic final day on the Antarctic Peninsula, and we were all smiles as we started to head north into the Drake Passage once more.