26 March 2011

Mountains of Penguins...ANTARCTICA (14 March)

When people think of Antarctica they don't always realize quite what a mountainous continent it is. It is a true place of extremes, being arguably the driest, windiest, iciest continent on Earth, with a bunch of mountains besides. On top of that when people think of penguins they don't usually think of them way up on a mountainside, although that is exactly where we hiked to walk among the dapper Chinstrap Penguins, that had nested on the only area clear of snow: the top of the mountain ridge!

Above is Ecuadorian Pablo with penguins, the friend that I traveled to Antarctica with.

And above is the view of the ship resting in Orne Bay from "Chinstrap Ridge" with a penguin in the foreground to give some idea of the crazy hike these penguins had to make to get there and breed. They are not exactly well-equipped for a long hike with their short squat legs, and awkward appearance on land, in contrast to their graceful porpoising in the waters.

There is a rare photo of me on my blog, with the Chinstrap colony up in the mountains. One of the few hikes we did on the cruise but one that well worth it for the views and experience of walking among these guys.

A surreal experience looking down at our large ship dwarfed by the mountains far below, while we're standing shoulder-to-shoulder (more like knee-to-shoulder really!) with a colony full of Chinstraps in the snow. Just one more thing to be taken aback by in Antarctica that knocks you back time and again with the dramatic scenes offered up daily... Next more close ups of the predatory Leopard Seals...

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