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12/13/2007

Paradise Harbour and Neko Harbour

We arrived in the well-named Paradise Harbour before breakfast: the sun was breaking through the clouds and the weather was good for a landing on the mainland of Antarctica – the 'seventh continent'. It was time to learn how to dress in our warm and waterproof clothing and practise getting in and out of the zodiac boats. Both are easy when performed once or twice.

A short zodiac ride brought us to the Argentine station Brown (formerly Almirante Brown) – now closed. The landing place was at a jetty just below the empty station buildings where some gentoo penguins were nesting. The main object, however, was to climb a steep snow slope for a stunning view across Paradise Harbour. On the way back to Explorer II, there was time for a cruise along the front of a glacier and among 'bergy bits', the fantastically sculpted fragments of disintegrated icebergs.

During and after lunch, Explorer II moved to Neko Harbour. The clouds had rolled back and we passed along a channel between breathtaking mountain and glacier scenery (and spotting some whales on the way). Neko Harbour provided another mainland landing, more gentoo penguins and a longer hike up a steep slope over a snowfield for a wonderful view across the sea to the mountain backdrops.

The mood on our return was elation at two wonderful landings on the mainland of Antarctica combined with the tiredness of two unusually active days ashore.

   

We began our adventure in Antarctica with stunning views of Paradise Bay.

The first landing was at the unmanned Argentine Station for a continental landing.

There was a chance for a good hike up to the top of the hill with a tremendous view of Paradise Bay.

The second landing of the day was a beautiful Neko Harbor.

We saw several small colonies of gentoo penguins sitting on their eggs in their stone nest sites.


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