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13 December 2012 / leggypeggy

A slice of paradise in the Antarctic

Paradise Bay

The beauty of Paradise Bay in the Antarctic

In a single day, Poor John and I managed to get to paradise AND visit our seventh and final continent.

It all happened on our second day alongside the Antarctic Peninsula when our ship anchored in Paradise Bay, and the Zodiacs ferried us ashore for the morning. This was a real landing on the Antarctic mainland, unlike our previous stops on islands.

Zodiacs in the Antarctic

Zodiacs ferry us to the Antarctic Peninsula

Almirante Brown Antarctic Base

Landing at Base Brown

We arrived on the doorstep of the Almirante Brown Antarctic Base, the now-abandoned Argentine scientific research station there.

I can’t determine exactly when it closed but, in 1984, a researcher, who didn’t want to stay for winter, set fire to the compound. He pulled this stunt about the time the last supply ship for the year was leaving. Luckily, he and others who were to stay for winter were picked up. Today the buildings are in good condition, and perhaps the site will reopen in future.

For now, the base is one of only two places that tourists can set foot on the actual Antarctic Peninsula.

As with all landings, some crew members went ashore first to prepare a landing spot and mark paths where we could trek safely and legally.

The legal requirement is that we stay in certain areas and that we remain at least five metres from all wildlife. However, it’s okay if we sit or stand still and the critters approach us.

Antarctica

Trekking to a viewpoint on the Antarctic mainland

This was our trickiest landing so far because the landing spot was steep and blanketed with a thick layer of snow and ice. Not to worry! Several crew went to work with shovels and other implements, and cut a set of snow stairs for us to climb.

That climb was nothing compared to the uphill trek to the best viewpoint. The ‘mountain’ rose only 165 feet, and was really not at all hard if you take it slowly. But it’s a decent challenge when you sink up to your knees in the snow.

After exploring our first mainland stop and checking out the resident gentoo penguins, we took our turn in the Zodiacs. This was our chance to get up close to ice, glaciers, mountains, water and plant life.

No doubt about it, Paradise Bay lived up to its name and reputation as one of Antarctica’s most scenic places.

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12 Comments

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  1. lmo58 / Dec 13 2012 1:37 pm

    Wow Peggy!! How extraordinarily beautiful it all is. Paradise Bay really looks like a paradise. You’ll be hard pressed choosing your favourite Antarctic experience.

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  2. skippersyy S. / Dec 13 2012 2:26 pm

    L-P,

    It is so interesting to read your blog and places I would have not dreamed of ever seeing. The photos are very good and your commentary about the region. And once again, you had excellent warm weather and no snow to deal with… except for trekking up the mountain to get a better view of Paradise Bay.

    Sy S.

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    • leggypeggy / Dec 13 2012 9:01 pm

      Thanks Sy. We were so very lucky with the weather in Antarctica. Sun every day and good temperatures. We really were blessed.

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  3. Susan / Dec 13 2012 3:43 pm

    Beautiful. How did you do the snowflakes on the blog??

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    • leggypeggy / Dec 13 2012 8:40 pm

      The snowflakes are a free option from WordPress during the Christmas season. They get ‘switched off’ in early January.

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  4. Todd / Dec 18 2012 1:12 pm

    How wonderful! You’ve inspired me to move visiting Antarctica to my top 10 list! Take Care and Merry Christmas to you and John!

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    • leggypeggy / Dec 18 2012 1:20 pm

      Thanks for the good wishes, Todd.
      Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.
      And move Antarctica to your top 5 list. 🙂

      Like

  5. Prima / Jan 3 2013 4:54 pm

    Hi Peggy, I am planning my Antarctica trip and came across your blog – such an interesting read. Thanks for all the detailed info. I am leaning towards booking with Ocean Diamond. Understand that they take in about 189 passengers. My only concern is – how is this managed since the rule is limited to 100 people per landing. Do they divide the passengers into groups to land at different locations? Can you please help me understand. Thank you.

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    • leggypeggy / Jan 3 2013 8:46 pm

      Hello Prima
      Thanks for stopping by my blog. I’m glad you found it useful.
      This was my first-ever Antarctic experience and, in my opinion, the Ocean Diamond handled landings extremely well. I’m going to write a complete blog entry about how these were managed, so that more people will be sure to see it.
      In the meantime, here is a brief explanation. Half the group landed on an Antarctic island or mainland, while the other half did a Zodiac cruise in the area. Then they swapped places. Landings lasted three to four hours, so I never felt rushed for time.
      We were not divided into groups and a person could choose how to divide their time on any given landing.
      Hope that helps. I’ll let you know when I’ve posted the full explanation. I’m flying back to Australia tomorrow and will be travelling for 36 hours.

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      • Prima / Jan 4 2013 11:25 am

        That would be a great help:-) Thank you and travel safe.

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      • leggypeggy / Jan 5 2013 1:06 am

        Many thanks. We travel later today.

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