December 14, 2013
We hiked this morning up Danco Island. It took a while but thankfully John led the way. There was no one behind us. He called our small group trailblazers as we kept walking up and stopped occasionally to see the mountains, glaciers, icebergs, and kayaks below. It was absolutely mind-blowing. Danco Island is about 1 mile long and 560 feet high. It was chartered in 1898 by Gerlache’s Belgian expedition, and named after Lieutenant Emilie Danco, a geologist on Belgica who died due to being trapped in the ice.
At the top we sat there and saw the reflection of the mountains in the water. It is a sight you cannot get anywhere else in the world. We overlooked the two boats, and then made our way to the other side.
So gorgeous, it felt like being in a fantasy. You can only dream of places like this, and here I was gazing at probably the most beautiful part of the globe. I kept walking around and then ran into Amanda who was also taking it in. We sat, talked and then silence. This is my favorite place in the world. It’s separated from everything. The mountains are right there surrounding me, the air is so pure, and occasionally you hear wildlife or ice moving. The icebergs are right below you. You’re so separated from everything else. You know when people ask you, “if you could be anywhere right now, where would it be?” For me it would be right here sitting on the snow overlooking that view.
We then slid down a “slide” on our way down to the zodiac. Best slide ever. Short but sweet.
We went to Cuverville Island which has the largest Gentoo population in Antarctica – about 6,000 pairs.
Cuverville was also discovered by Gerlache’s Belgica expedition (1897-1899) and named after a vice-admiral in the French Navy since he helped provision Gerlache’s expedition. We hiked along the ocean and there was colony after colony of these penguins. It smelled like my family’s farm in Nova Scotia. We saw an elephant seal as well and two penguins that looked like they were headless but apparently they’re just putting it under their wing.
Note: when you step in the deep snow, you may end up creating a penguin death trap…what happens is that the hole is created by your boots and if you don’t field it or level it out by stepping all around it, then the penguin could fall in and not be able to get up. We created a lot of those (not purposefully) so kept filling them in.
We then went for a Zodiac cruise and ended up with a lot of people from the Chinese group meaning we sat at every iceberg for 15 minutes to take pictures of the one iceberg. You could tell that our staff member Sophie was ready to go back. Beautiful icebergs though. 90% of an iceberg is under water. I forgot that fact.