Chile & Antarctica, Day 9: A Whale of A Tale

Our day began around 7:30 AM when Alejo poked his head in the room to wake us all up. Alfonso brought in a table for breakfast, and we got dressed and ate what we could. 
The weather was looking much better already - much less wind and even a little sun - and no rain! So, we suited up for a longer ride on the zodiac boat to head out to see glaciers.
I've gotta say, I've seen pics and videos of folks in these low-sitting rafts, and I always thought there was no way I'd get into one. Not on the freezing Antarctic waters anyway, but there I was gripping the rope and maintaining a slight forward-lean so I would hopefully fall into the boat just in case we were to hit a wave or something. :-P
After a few minutes on the boat, Alejo pulled up to a large group of penguins swimming and maneuvered the boat to be near the center of them.
This is the only picture we got of the Adelie penguin - he's the one with all the black head. Can you find him?
It was freaking awesome. We were all mesmerized, just watching the penguins swimming around and under us. Alejo started to move the boat on and then he suddenly exclaimed "whale!" This humpback whale surfaced just a few feet in front of our little boat!
Underwater penguin
We spent some time in this area, following the whale's movements. There was one point where he surfaced not much more than two feet from the boat.  It was kind of terrifying at times, and I was practically restraining myself from asking Alejo if we could move the boat back a few feet. Aaron later asked if anyone else had been terrified that the whale was going to tip the boat over. Um, yeah!!!

We then made our way over to Collin's Glacier, which was actually where our campsite was. Alejo pointed out where we would have been sleeping if the weather hadn't deterred our camping plans.
We even had some more whale sightings!
We pulled up to a rocky area that Alejo had selected as the perfect location for the boys to take a swim. That's right, kids, my husband stripped down to take a dip in the Antarctic.
There were plenty of jokes made about the dish towel and pink blanket the crew had graciously brought for our swimmers. "I don't always swim in the Antarctic, but when I do I warm up in my pink blanket" or better yet "I dry off in the zodiac boat on the ride back."

After his dip, we boarded the zodiac boat again to see Wilson Glacier and then cruised around to check out caves and other rock formations.
We pulled up to shore to visit the China Great Wall Station. We were able to get our passports stamped here as well as at the King George Island Chilean Post Office at Villa Las Estrellas.
Back on the zodiac boat, we went to look for leopard seals.
I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn't this eel-like creature, the second largest species of seal in the Antarctic.
While circling the seal who kept flaring his nostrils at us, we kept getting distracted by the penguins playing in the water and ice...apparently, oblivious to this predator lounging around.
Our return trip on the zodiac got us back in time for lunch at Bellingshausen before our return flight to Chile at 3:00. We had an awesome second day in Antarctica, and it ended up being a really good thing that we hadn't camped on the glacier. That would have eaten into our time on day 2, and we might not have seen as much wildlife as we did.

Goodbye, Antarctica!
We were back in super-windy Punta Arenas by around 6:00 PM, although it took a while to track down our transport back to the hotel. We were pretty worn out, so we attempted to just order room service, but dinner couldn't be ordered until 8:00. Despite our exhaustion, we headed out to find food, and we ended up at History Coffee. We were completely stumbling our way through the menu, until the waitress finally interjected and asked "English?" We nodded eagerly, and she brought us an English menu. We ordered a Sandwich, Empanadas, a Raspberry Crepe, and a Blended Banana with Milk. After the poor dining options in Antarctica, everything tasted delicious.
And the long, hot shower that followed after we got back to the hotel couldn't have felt any more amazing.  


Popular Posts