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Day 5 - February 25, 2011 - Cuverville Island & Port Lockroy

By by Juan Carlos Restrepo, Geologist

Co-ordinates: S 64º41’02”, W 062º37’41”
Weather: Mostly cloudy with splashes of sun and overall good conditions.
Air Temperature: 3ºC
Sea Temperature: 1ºC


Today was the best day of this trip, so far. After having visited Aitcho and Deception in the South Shetland Islands, we finally made it to the Antarctic Peninsula.

I woke up this morning, as the Prince Albert II was sailing into the Errera Channel, a stunning passage between Rongé Island and the Arctowski Peninsula. Sunbathed glaciers poured down from the mountains into the sea and icebergs dotted the channel as we approached Cuverville Island, our morning’s destination.

Cuverville is a rocky island off the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. It was discovered by Gerlache’s Belgian Antarctic Expedition (1897-99) and named by Charcot after a vice-admiral in the French navy. Nearly vertical cliffs surround the island except for the northeast shore where we landed our guests at 8:00. Once ashore, they had a chance to roam around (always respecting the guidelines established by IAATO for this site), to the two ends of the beach where Gentoo penguins are nesting and our staff was ready to interpret.

The more energetic of our guests, six of them, went on a hike that took them to the top of the island, at 275 meters above sea level. Their efforts were rewarded with truly spectacular and unobstructed views of the Errera Channel and surrounding area. Breathtaking indeed! Many made it to the first plateau, half way up where they also had great scenery to enjoy.

During lunch we sailed out of the Errera through its southern end and into the Gerlache Strait, towards the Neumayer Channel another of those unforgettable sceneries that had everybody in awe.

At 2:30 pm we were starting disembarkation to Port Lockroy and Jougla Point. Port Lockroy is a natural harbor around Goudier Island, discovered by the French Antarctic expedition in 1903-05. It was used for whaling and British military operations (Operation Tabarin) during World War II and then continued to operate as a British research station until 1962. In 1996 Port Lockroy was renovated and now hosts a museum, gift shop and post office operated by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust.

Parallel to this landing, we were taking our guests to nearby Jougla Point in Wiencke Island, where they visited a colony of Blue-eyed shags and Gentoo penguins. There are also some cool rocks and a whale skeleton assembled from bits and pieces, near the landing zone.

By 5:30 pm all our guests had seen and enjoyed both sites and we came back on board to get ready for the Venetian Society cocktail and dinner. Tomorrow we have another great day in store, stay tuned...

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