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Published: February 21st 2019
Tuesday & Wednesday 19/20 February:
DAY 18&19 / KING GEORGE ISLAND (ANTARCTICA) – RETURN TO SOUTH AMERICA – OVERNIGHT x 3 in PUNTA ARENAS
This morning we said our goodbye to our expedition team and transfer ashore by Zodiac……eventually! We were woken by Kaylan at 6.00am although she tricked us by saying it was 4.45am!! It wasn’t! After breakfast, we were told that loading would start at 9.00am which was when our luggage would be loaded on large nets and craned over the side into zodiacs and taken to the beach on King Edward Island.
Several of the zodiacs were off loaded and luggage in place. Then, all of a sudden, the seas changed. Waves started to come over he zodiacs … with our suitcases in it. There were several zodiacs that made it to the beach but due to the now, unsafe nature of the seas, the zodiacs returned, re-craned back on the ship and operations were stopped. Kaylan, the Captain and King George authorities and the airlines all made the decision jointly for the plane from Punta Arenas to not fly to King George Island and that our ship was to go out
of the harbour as the ship traffic in the harbour was too great and finally, One Ocean staff dealt with the onboard issues.
We were all ready in our wet weather gear and rubber boots, but the announcement came that the plane hadn’t left Punta Arenas, and all zodiacs were back on the ship. For the next 5 hours, the staff made us feel very comfortable, ensuring all the bar, reception area and dining rooms were made available to us as the ship’s hotel staff were busily getting the cabins ready for the next passengers.
We were supplied with endless tea and coffee, snacks and eventually a light lunch. The whole operation was impressive, but I guess they were used to this sort of thing happening. We found out that one of the trips, passengers were stuck on the ship for 5 days. This meant that the new passengers tour was cancelled. Wouldn’t you be devastated? Wow, I wouldn’t like either of those scenarios.
However, a 2.00pm, we received the call that the seas had calmed down, the plane from Punta Arenas had departed on its 2 hour flight so all
operations were a go! The last 2 zodiac loads of baggage was dealt with first and then passenger was loaded up and transported onto the beach. The sea had really calmed down drastically, and the sun was peeping through the clouds. It was still extremely cold.
We walk about a kilometre from the shore landing site past the Chilean research station and up towards the airstrip where we boarded our special charter flight. Our bags were transported in the back of the truck, safely to the plane. We later heard that one of the passenger’s bag was soaked right through during the attempts to take the bags from the ship when the weather suddenly changed. One Ocean completely paid for the laundering of the total bag and clothes.
We left our wet bags, green boots, red jackets and black over-pants on the shore for the next group of passengers.
This flight with DAP took a little over two hours. We were served a meal and wine on the flight which was our dinner as it was 8.00pm by the time we had reached the Dream Hotel. Upon arrival into Punta Arenas
we transferred from the airport into town by 2 busses. All but 6 of us were staying at the same hotel so it was so good to be able to see our new friends again at breakfast. We woke at 9.00am, an indicator for the need to have a catchup sleep.
We woke in Punta Arena to rain but as we had learned during the 5 nights, 4 days previous to the cruise, the rain doesn’t last long and the day ended up beautifully sunny ….. still with a slight nip in the air …. but not the Antarctic nip.
We had a little supermarket shopping to do and then it was back to our favourite Chocolatier for wonderful Chilean coffee. We kept running into familiar faces which was wonderful. It was then time to prepare for our next 7-day adventure, the Ros Roy Expedition with Patagonia Photo Expedition company.
While waiting 2 days for this tour we visited the Nao Victorian Ship Museum opened in 2016. Ship-lovers have come together and built replica ships of the HMS Beagle, Ancud and Ferdinand Magellan Ship. It was really interesting to see these
old sailing ships and wander into their lower decks to see how the sailors lived. The ship builders had done a fantastic joy at building the replicas.
The first day we were back in Punta Arenas, it was really sunny, but the second day was really windy and very cold, so we had to rug up. We learned that the previous weekend experienced 100mph winds. We were glad we weren’t there then. After we finished looking through all the ships, we went into the coffee and sat next to their fire and waited for our taxi driver to arrive. We had organised him to wait as the Museum was several kilometres from the CBD and past the airport. That evening we officially started our next cruise.
As I always do a summery of our highlights which proved to be challenging (as there were so many), follows:
· Our team of travellers and One Ocean staff. People who go on an Antarctic/South Georgia cruise are always those who have done extensive travel. Wow, what a lot of travel-story exchanging we did.
· King penguin colony South Georgia, approx. 200,000
· Bubble feeding of Humpback whales under our zodiac in Antarctica and them breaching and diving showing their flukes almost being able to reach out and touch them
· A massive whale, coming straight towards our zodiac and diving under our boat and coming up the other side
· The mega 28km long tabular iceberg formed from the ice shelf
· The different shaped and colours of the icebergs
· The powerful leopard seals
· Playful, inquisitive, sometimes teeth-bearing fur seals
· Treks up snow-covered mountains to see the most spectacular, breathtaking views
· The singing Weddell Seal with a mouth that looks like it is smiling all the time
· The smiling Chinstrap penguins
· All the antics of the penguins as they waddle along their grooved out ‘highways’.
· Black-faced, white ringed eyes of the Adelie penguins
· Whiskered Rockhopper and Macaroni penguins on the Falklands
· The brief siting of the Orca whales – very special to
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