Neko Harbor


Click here to see the larger map of the peninsula (64K).

This was one of my favorite landings of the entire expedition.  The weather was beautifully calm and clear on this morning, and there had just been a light snowfall, which made everything (especially the penguin colony!) look clean and beautiful. 

For some reason, the penguin tracks all followed a very narrow path through the snow around this rock.

  An Argentine Refuge Hut.

   Gentoo Penguins pausing after their most recent swim, before waddling up the hill to feed their chicks.

After a brief hike up the glacier, some of our group decided to use this opportunity to do the "Antarctic Slide"! 

"Take nothing, leave nothing, disturb nothing."  Those were the instructions from our guides.  Take no souvenirs, we were told, not so much as a single penguin feather.  Ice, however, was okay!  Connie and I collected tiny samples of ice (I'm showing one off here), which, once melted, we placed into necklaces to be given to some of our friends as souvenirs.  Much larger samples of ice were occasionally taken by Claudia, our ship's bartender, to be used in our drinks!

Down at the far end of the beach, away from the penguin colony, the glaciers flowing over the mountain were an amazing shade of blue.  As I sat by the still water of the harbor, I could hear the crack and rumble of the ice as it inched forward.  Unfortunately, despite the massive low rumblings, we never actually saw any piece larger than a couple feet across fall into the water, but there were plenty of enormous icebergs floating around that were testament to the activity and "calving" of this particular part of the Antarctic ice sheet.

  Across the water, we could see the "flow" of the glacier.  Imagine it coming up from behind that dark mountain, which was almost too high for it to pass... So part of the glacier came over the top and then fell down on the other side, while two other channels split to go around the mountain, and then merge on the near side, where the pressure from both flows was forcing huge chunks of ice to crack off and fall into the bay.


As beautiful as the day was, I could have sat there for hours admiring the ice, the penguins, the mirror-like surface of the water, and the magnificent beauty of this part of the Antarctic continent.  Alas, however, we were only there for a short time.  Someday, however, I would like to return to this spot.


A view from a Zodiac raft, as our driver (Tony Martin, I think) expertly wove through the ice to get us back to our ship.  Conditions could change rapidly, so even though the rafts were going back and forth between the ship and the beach pretty much continually, the passage could be completely clear on one trip, and then look like this on the trip back.  I wish I could have recorded the sounds, too -- the low scraping sound and vibration of a Zodiac raft slowly pushing through and over the ice is something that can raise the hair on the back of your neck!

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