Each day on a polar expedition is a new adventure, with a wide range of islands to be discovered.
Every Antarctic expedition includes excursions to explore islands and animal habitats close to the ship. The exact islands you visit (and when you visit them) is dependent on factors such as weather conditions, sea ice and wildlife movement, but this only serves to make each voyage unique. Here's a list of some of the landing sites you may visit on your polar expedition.
Brown Bluff: A possible exposed volcano, Brown Bluff towers 678 metres (2225 feet) over the rookeries of Adélie and gentoo penguins, which number in the thousands. These penguins will create a symphony of background noise while you explore the bluff.
Cierva Cove: If one of your expedition goals is to witness incredible icebergs and pack ice, Cierva Cove is the place for you. A massive glacial face regularly calves into the bay, and the floating ice can be quite spectacular. Seals can be spotted on ice floes and, later in the season, humpback whales occasionally breach the icy waters.
Danco Island: Home to gentoo penguins, this small isle is easy to explore, at only 1.6 kilometres (1 mile) long. You can visit the marker of a former British Antarctic Survey hut, where you can enjoy the stunning view of the Errera Channel.
Enterprise Island: This island, located in Wilhelmina Bay, was once used by whalers. A Zodiac cruise around the island passes a wrecked whaling ship.
Hope Bay: Three members of the Swedish Antarctic Expedition (1901–04) spent the winter in a hut on the shores of the bay. The hut is located close to the jetty of Esperanza Station, an Argentine research station.
Melchior Islands: This group of low islands in Dallmann Bay is where you may see hauled-out male fur seals as they recuperate from their battles for supremacy at the end of their breeding season.
Mikkelsen Harbor: Situated on the south side of Trinity Island, Mikkelsen Harbor is a 3 km (1.86 mile) wide bay surrounded by stunning ice cliffs. It was discovered by the Swedish Antarctic expedition of 1901–04, and is surrounded by several reefs. Keep your camera close, as gentoo penguins and skuas, as well as Weddell, Antarctic fur, leopard and crabeater seals, are often seen in the region.
Paradise Bay: A wide bay and natural harbour on the West Antarctic Peninsula, Paradise Bay is also known as Paradise Harbor. Mountains, glaciers and ice cliffs offer spectacular views. Icebergs regularly calve from the glaciers, providing a place for seals, penguins and seabirds to rest and play. The Almirante Brown Antarctic Base – named after Admiral Guillermo Brown, father of the Argentine Navy – opened in Paradise Bay in 1951 but was destroyed by fire in 1984. It has since been partially rebuilt and is used during summer months for scientific research. Also located in the bay is Waterboat Point, where two scientists studying penguin behaviour lived in a water boat from 1921 to 1922. The remains of their camp have been designated an Antarctic historic site.
Paulet Island: Located in the northwestern Weddell Sea, Paulet Island is home to a large Adelie penguin rookery. With a volcanic cone that rises 353 metres (1158 feet), the island reminds you that this was once a very active landscape. In addition to spotting penguins, you may be interested in visiting an historic hut built by members of the Swedish Antarctic Expedition of 1901–04. A cross marks the gravesite of Ole Wennersgaard, a member of the crew.
Wilhelmina Bay: Humpback whales abound in 'Whalemina Bay', as it’s nicknamed, and the scenery is spectacular. Sheer cliffs and glaciers surround the calm waters of the protected bay, named after Wilhelmina, queen of the Netherlands from 1890 to 1948. If you’re lucky, you may see the humpbacks bubble-net feeding: they exhale while swimming in circles, trapping their prey in a 'net' of bubbles, and then swim straight up from below, mouths open. A truly spectacular sight!
The Falkland Islands
Carcass Island: This 8 kilometre (5 mile) island northwest of West Falkland is owned by Rob and Lorraine McGill. Named for the Royal Navy ship HMS Carcass, which arrived in 1766, it is a picturesque place, where songbirds nest amongst the luxuriant growth that covers the gently rolling landscape.
New Island: New Island, the most southwesterly island in the archipelago and a designated Important Bird Area, is about 13 kilometres (8 miles) long and 800 metres (.5 miles) wide. The rugged west side of the island rises a steep 183 metres (600 feet), while the east side slopes down to the sea. Ownership is held by the New Island Conservation Trust, which manages the island as a nature reserve.
Stanley: Stanley’s deep-water harbour has been the economic mainstay of the community since the port’s completion in 1845. Ships that were damaged while rounding Cape Horn would call in for expensive repairs. The questionable vessels that were used to carry fortune seekers to the goldfields of California and Australia often called at Stanley as well. The town is as lively as it gets in the Falklands.
West Point Island: The Napier family has owned West Point Island since the 1860s. On the island’s west coast, black-browed albatross nest in colonies on cliffs along the water’s edge. Rockhopper penguins share the cliffs, while Commerson’s dolphins can often be seen in the surrounding waters.
Drygalski Fjord: This is a photogenic and dramatic fjord, with sharp and jagged peaks rising out of the sea. Glaciation never reached the peaks of this fjord, so the landscape is unique.
Gold Harbour: The backdrop to this harbour is the hanging Bertrab Glacier. King and gentoo penguins call this home, as do rowdy elephant and fur seals.
Grytviken: Only a handful of people live, albeit temporarily, on South Georgia, a United Kingdom overseas territory. Two of them are curators of the South Georgia Museum, located in the former whaling station manager’s villa. The church was built for the whaling community and is the only building in Grytviken that is still used for its original purpose.
Prion Island: Robert Cushman Murphy named this island for the species of petrels seen on the island. Birders will be pleased to know that wandering albatross are also known to nest on the island.
Salisbury Plain: One of the largest king penguin rookeries on the island is located on Salisbury Plain. The Murphy and Lucas Glaciers flank the plain, creating a perfect backdrop for photographers.
St Andrew's Bay: Thousands of breeding pairs of king penguins nest at St Andrew’s Bay. It is the largest king penguin rookery on South Georgia and is a wildlife spectacle to behold. Reindeer introduced by Norwegian whalers are known to feed on the grass in the area.
Stromness: This abandoned whaling station was in full operation the day that Ernest Shackleton and his companions staggered in after a 36-hour trek across the island. There is a small cemetery here, with the graves of 14 whalers.
South Shetland Islands
Aitcho Islands: This group of small islands, some still unnamed, is situated in the northern entrance of the English Strait. You can often spot a great mix of wildlife in the area, with gentoo and chinstrap penguins having established rookeries on the islands. Southern elephant and fur seals frequently haul out here, too.
Baily Head: Also known as Rancho Point, Baily Head is a rocky headland on the southeastern shore of Deception Island. Chinstrap penguins build nests on slopes leading to a high ridge that dominates the natural amphitheatre and provides a superb setting for landscape photography.
Half Moon Island: This crescent-shaped island was known to sealers as early as 1821. Unlike sealers, who tried to keep their best locations secret, we’re happy to bring you ashore on this impressive island. Many Antarctic birds breed here, including chinstrap penguins, shags, Wilson’s storm petrels, kelp gulls, snowy sheathbills, Antarctic terns and skua.
Hannah Point: Macaroni, chinstrap and gentoo penguin rookeries are located on this point, which is on the south coast of Livingston Island. Due to the rather congested area available to the nesting penguins, you can only visit here from January 10 onward.
Pendulum Cove: Geothermal waters are found along the shoreline of this cove, named for observations made in 1829 by a British expedition. You may see yellow algae and boiled krill floating on the surface because of the scalding water!
Penguin Island: Antarctica has two native flowering plants, both of which you can find on Penguin Island: Deschampsia antarctica and Colobanthus quitensis. Chinstrap penguins, fur seals and southern elephant seals use the island for breeding purposes.
Rovert Point: A nice spot for Zodiac cruising, this point was known to sealers as early as 1820. Chinstrap penguins, kelp gulls and pintado petrels breed here, and whales may be seen in the surrounding waters.
Telefon Bay: Your expedition team will be happy to point out that this is where the most recent evidence of volcanic eruption on Deception Island can be seen.
Turret Point: Chinstrap and Adelie penguin rookeries are found on this point, situated on the south coast of King George Island. The beaches here are often crowded with southern elephant, fur and Weddell seals hauling out on the rocks.
Whaler's Bay: To reach Whaler’s Bay, it is necessary to sail through a narrow passage called Neptune’s Bellows. The bay was used by whalers from 1906 to 1931 and is part of a protected harbour created by the circular flooded caldera known as Deception Island. Along with waddling penguins and lounging seals, you’ll see the rusting remains of whaling operations on the beach. Watch for steam that may rise from geothermally heated springs along the shoreline.
Yankee Harbour: Gentoo penguins have established a rookery at this harbour, situated on the southwest side of Greenwich Island. Here, you can see an abandoned Argentine refuge hut and a large glacier that stretches along the east and north sides of the bay. An old sealing try pot is all that remains of the activity that brought men thousands of miles in tall ships to seek their fortune.