After the horrendous weather the day before, it was hard to believe that we woke up at exactly the spot where a hurricane had hammered us just half a day before. A bright sun was shining on the cliffs and glaciers, icebergs were reflecting so much light it hurt our eyes and made everyone grab their sunglasses, and our ship was surrounded by porpoising Adélie penguins. Yesterday it had been war, today it was peace. Our kayaking team was overjoyed, and we could not wait to get into our kayaks which seemed especially fragile in these surroundings. We were in for an experience that not one of us will forget for the rest of our lives. Paddling through the ice that was making all kinds of hissing sounds as air trapped inside was coming out as part of the melting process, past icebergs with Adélie penguins and Weddell seals and with icicles hanging from the side, with penguins flying through the air so close we could have touched them if they would not be so fast, in the décor of massive glaciers around huge dark brown cliffs from which we could see waterfalls coming down, in the very pleasant sunlight almost gave us the illusion of summer and was like a dream come true. Forgotten was the violent side of Antarctica of the day before.
The advantages of being in a kayak were once again clear: within certain precautions, we were free to steer our kayaks to wherever we wanted, and we could stop whenever we wanted. And stopping we did: if only to watch the Adélies move around their icebergs, trying to get to the top which for some seemed an impossible task, diving off icebergs, and some of them even jumping right into the zodiac accompanying us which caused great delight in the driver who went crazy with these little creatures. Then, we were now able to have a close look at the icebergs, sculpted by the sea, some smooth, some with pillars, some white, others in brilliant shades of blue that were increased further by the bright sunshine. We could have stayed here for the rest of the day - but just to be sure, before the weather would change (and in Antarctica, the question is not if the weather will change, but when), we made our way to the landing site.
After the cancellation of our landing the day before, many of us were very happy to step on the firm soil of Antarctica: for many, it was the last continent to visit. One of us had even taken the Australian flag, her home country, for a photo opportunity. We had spent quite some time kayaking and did not have much time left; we quickly made it up to a vantage point on the subglacial volcano that is Brown Bluff, from where we had unlimited and superb views of the Antarctic Sound, the icebergs scattered around the sea, and the glaciers at Brown Bluff. On the way up the steep scree slope, we passed several breeding Adélies. Much before we wanted to, it was already time to leave again, and we continued kayaking past the face of the glacier. This was a different experience: while before we were surrounded by icebergs which were not very high, we were now dwarfed by a massive wall of ice. We saw deep caves, and it was at times difficult to control ourselves and venture into the blue tunnels of ice. Instead of penguins and seals, we spotted small jellyfish here. One of our guides invited us to eat ice, so we picked up one of the many pieces of ice floating on the sea, had a good look at the dense ice with its multitude of air bubbles inside, and then had a bite. It made us realize that although it seemed like summer, it was an Antarctic summer which could be over any minute. In fact, within an hour after we stepped out of our kayaks, winds would pick up again and we could not make another landing that day.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Brown Bluff (Antarctica). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Brown Bluff.
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