We arrived in the morning to a rarified day of warm sunshine and light wind at Neko Harbour. The bay was filled with brash ice, bergy bits and growlers, making for the quintessential scene of Antarctica of whites and every shade of blue imaginable.
Our morning was split between a landing and an ice cruise around Neko Harbour. Half of us started with a visit to shore while the other half began the day with the Zodiac cruise, and then after about 1.5 hours we switched. We had an easy landing, as Captain Oliver parked Endurance practically on the shore, making for a short Zodiac ride to the landing site. We were greeted by Steffano, upon our arrival, and the team had set up a hiking trail past the Gentoo penguin colonies just above the shore and higher up on the hillside to an elevation of about 400 feet where we could then drop back down the trail to loop back around past the huge glacier front spilling down the mountainside the across the bay. For those feeling energetic we could hike another 400 feet up to a second overlook for a stunning view over the glacier and the harbor beyond. The Zodiac cruise was a magical journey through the ice, where we saw numerous “rafts” of porpoising Gentoo penguins bathing and frolicking in the water. The morning could not have been more spectacular!
After lunch we arrived in our final Antarctic destination - Paradise Bay - and indeed it was! Like the morning, the weather was spectacular - clear, calm, with warm sunshine and no breeze. We boarded the Zodiacs for the first time at “The Marina,” located at the back of Endurance, for an afternoon cruise through this aptly named bay! No sooner had we boarded the Zodiacs when a humpback was spotted, feeding and diving, showing its flukes repeatedly as we snapped our cameras! Then, a curious minke whale appeared by the glacier and swam around our Zodiacs! What a way to end our time in Antarctica.
However, we weren’t finished yet. As we sailed north through the Gerlache Strait a pod of about 20 orca appeared ahead of the ship. The captain turned towards them and they playfully swam around and under the ship, allowing us a very up close and personal experience as we all snapped our shutters. An experience none of us will ever forget. We saw 3 different species in one afternoon! What a way to spend our final day at the Great White Continent!