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The setting sun highlights the icicles on the railings, as we sail through the Gerlache Straight in Antarctica. This Strait is named after the Belgian explorer Lt Adrien de Gerlache, who led an expedition to the area in 1898. We had boarded our ship in Puerto Madryn, Argentina 18 days earlier. During this time we had stopped and explored many places including the Falkland Islands with its colourful houses, interesting history and museum.
Every day when the weather allowed, we were out in the zodiacs making our way around enormous icebergs, some shaped like huge waves. A variety of birds including Albatross followed the ship, diving in its wake for fish. We moved on to South Georgia; a group of rugged islands with glacier-covered mountains and fjords and home to the largest colony of penguins. We visited the grave of Ernest Shackleton, the famous explorer. Not far from his grave in Grytviken is an abandoned whaling and sealing station which was active throughout the 20th century. We passed Elephant Island where there stands a statue; a tribute to Captain Luis Antonio Pardo Villalón who had rescued 22 men from the Shackleton Expedition, who were living on the island for months after surviving the wreck of the Endurance.
It was getting colder now as we moved south towards the Gerlache Strait where we got caught in a storm; huge waves crashed over the deck of the ship as it rocked from side to side. Then the storm subsided and the snow came covering everything outside. Even the flag was frozen and had fallen to the deck. Then we entered the Gerlache Strait, one of Antarctica’s most spectacular areas with its snow-covered mountains and spiky blue icebergs. The sun was going down and the icicles on the railings were sparkling.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor