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A pleasant surprise on the way to Mikkelsen Harbour

It doesn’t seem so long ago that we were boarding the ship for the start of our expedition yet now we find ourselves on our last day of activities before heading north and crossing Drakes Passage back to Ushuaia.

A Leopard Seal basking on a small iceberg
Image Credit: The Jewels of Antarctica
A Leopard Seal basking on a small iceberg in Mikkelsen Harbour.

After breakfast we all gathered in the lounge for the daily briefing before making a shore landing in Mikkelsen Harbour.  As we were nearing our destination, we were lucky to spot a Leopard Seal basking on a small iceberg that we were passing – out came the camera’s to capture the moment

Choices for this morning were kayaking, snowshoeing, zodiac cruising and mountaineering.  Most of the team chose snowshoeing and zodiac cruising.

For those going ahsore it was time to layer up again and take the zodiac across the landing point were  we put on our snow shoes and set about exploring the area. There were several colonies of Gentoo penguins on land with some gentle slopes to climb.

Boarding the zodiac once again, we were taken on an hour long cruise before heading back to the ship.  Along the way we encountered a group of at least ten Waddell seals gathered on one of the Islands soaking up the sun. We all scrambled out of the zodiacs to get a better view and take photos.

“This is the first time I’ve ever seen seals and it was magical to see the mother with her pup, guarded by an Adelie penguin sentry,” said Grace.

Taghrid and Margaret decided to brave the slopes again and went mountaineering with Chris and Drew “Climbing with Margaret today made it very special and the guides were so incredibly patient with us. The mountaineering has definitely been my favourite part of the expedition and an absolute highlight for me,” said Taghrid.

“It was really challenging, but Drew and Chris were there to support me and it was worth it to reach the top. I wouldn’t have done it if my sister Taghrid hadn’t convinced me to go along,” said Margaret.

What has struck most of the team along the way is the incredible diversity of ice-bergs that we have seen here in Antarctica. Impressive structures creating various inspiring and unexpected shapes and sizes as well as shades of blue, turqouise and green.

After lunch on board  Astrid and Julie conducted interviews with all the team members regarding the trip and how significant it has been for them – all good content for the post expedition highlights movie.

While travelling up the Gerlache Strait and through the southern Bransfield Strait, several Humpback whales were spotted that swam around the ship for quite some time, putting on a spectacular show for all to see.

We are now on open seas and heading back to port so will be using the next two days at sea to attend various talks on board from the guides, go through the hundred’s of pictures we have all taken and bring our journals up to date.