Adam: Ok, so today marks our final day of landings in Antarctica. It’s a good thing too, because I think we have run out of superlatives to describe everything. The landscapes we have experienced here have been probably the closest thing we’ll ever come to actually visiting another planet. Wildlife that is completely unafraid of humans can be experienced in only one other place on earth (The Galapagos islands).
Today’s visit to Deception Island had no shortage of incredible views, and one very special activity planned. Deception Island is actually the remains of a collapsed volcano, creating a water-filled caldera in the middle of it. The name comes from the hidden entryway to the inside of the island. The narrow passageway opens up to the inside harbor, which was very calm. Our guides told us that we had to be careful while visiting and to observe some signs of wildlife, because no wildlife meant another volcanic eruption was imminent. The most recent eruption was in 1969, destroying a few whaling shelters that were built there.
We began our first landing with a hike up to a beautiful viewpoint. Dana said the whole place looked like it was made out of cookies & cream ice cream, because everywhere you looked it was black and white, from the volcanic rock and snow. I would have to agree with her. The swirls within the mountains were unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
Afterwards. we got the opportunity to do something very cool but a little crazy: swimming! Yes, while you can freeze to death anywhere else in Antarctic waters, Deception Island is somewhat tolerable because of the geothermal heat from the volcano. Dana has had a cold the entire time in Antarctica and didn’t want it to get worse, so she skipped the swim but was able to take some pictures of me.
Yes, that whole “somewhat tolerable” line above translates to the equilvalent of the polar bear club on new year’s day. That water was FREEZING. On the other hand, after sprinting to a towel and drying off, I warmed up again pretty quickly. And now I’ve checked off “swimming in Antarctic waters while inside of a collapsed volcano” on my life’s to-do list.
Dana: Our last excursion for the trip was to a great place called Yankee Harbor. It was sad to even think about leaving Antarcitca, but a trip like this has to end sooner or later. This was my last time to say goodbye to the Gentoo penguins and to see if we would spot anymore seals on the beach. Walking around we spotted many penguins and some Skuas flying over head waiting for their chance to dive in and sweep up grab a meal. Adam and I even found ourselves chasing after an elephant seal who was very shy and swam away in the icy waters.
Towards the last half of our visit we spotted a lone fur seal resting on the rocks. I loved his whiskers and little ears poking out, he was the only fur seal we saw in Antarctica. The winds were picking up and clouds were rolling in… it was time for us to head back to the zodiacs and board the MV Ushuaia for our return back through the Drake Passage and to Argentina.