We awaken to our third beautiful day in Antarctica! Sunshine, amazing clear blue skies, and lots of ice and snow. All the staff on our expedition ship have told us no group is so lucky as to have such fantastic weather for three days in a row! As we peek out of our cabin's window, we see the adventure staff getting "the toys" ready for the day. Witness this string of kayaks being pulled into position by a zodiac....
Zodiacs, boats and submersibles are also getting ready for a busy day of ferrying travelers into this amazing ecosystem. As we enjoy our breakfast, we take in the scenery. Our ship, the Viking Octantis, is "parked" in Hidden Bay. Modern ships no longer use anchors -- they use GPS linked thrusters to keep the ship in one spot.
Hidden Bay is three nautical miles (6 km) long and about as far south as we're going on this journey. The name "Hidden Bay" was bestowed because from the north it is not visible as views of it are blocked by the Screen Islands. The area was first charted by the Belgian Antarctic Expedition of 1897–99.
A distinctive feature of Hidden Bay is the Una Peaks, also known as Una's Tits, or the Cape Renard Towers. A photo of them is shown at the top of this blog. These are two steep basalt peaks caped by glaciers. The highest of the two is 747 meters (2,451 ft) tall.
The scenery in the Bay is lovely and, in many ways, typical of Antarctica with lots of snow, ice (glaciers), mountains, and icebergs. Here's a sample of what we see as we look around Hidden Bay.....
Our turn to cruise Hidden Bay by Zodiac arrives and we are excited to board and begin a closer look of the landscape.
(On board our Zodiac, Una Peaks in the background)
We navigate between the many small icebergs and closely approach the steep basalt peaks and their glaciers. The angles on the peaks and their reflections in the still bay is ever changing, and our guide gives us a rare treat. For about 5 minutes, he turns off the motor and we float and enjoy Antarctica in all of its amazing silence.
(Photos taken while aboard the Zodiac)
(Small channel between two islands -- too narrow and ice-filled to navigate)
An interesting formation we spotted on the Zodiac was a mountain whose ice cap was sculpted into a shape that resembled a human skull.
(We nicknamed the formation as "Skull island")
Except for some sea birds, we didn't see any wildlife on our Zodiac tour, but the Drs. Fumblefinger still enjoyed their adventure....
For a brief video of our Zodiac ride, check out this clip.