Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Neko Harbour and a polar plunge

In the morning we sailed a short distance into Andvord Bay for a landing at Neko Harbour.  Up until now, all of our landings have been on antarctic islands, but this one was a  continental landing.

There are relatively few places that the zodiacs can reasonably land on this part of the continent, but this is ideal.  Not only is it accessible in a relatively sheltered bay, but it actually has a sandy beach.

So when we landed, the sun was out and we were on a sandy beach.  OK so it was still cold, and there were ice and penguins everywhere, but still, this was the closest we were going to get to a beach holiday here.  So of course, some people decided to go swimming.  But we'll come back to that later.

We were slightly restricted walking around here as to one side is a huge glacier that calves into the sea.  When it does, you don't want to be on the beach nearby, as you are likely to get washed away by the waves it generates.

 It was nice to have the sun out for a change as it brought out the colours in the views.  With all of the snow, ice and penguins, the majority of the scenery here can look very monochrome, so is very noticeable when you suddenly get a splash of colour. 

Sometimes it is our clothing, or one of the remaining red refuge huts, sometimes it is a bit of bright blue ice, but today what caught my eye was the string of kayaks being towed along behind the zodiac.

It was the first time that the kayakers had got to go out again for a few days because they weren't able to go out in the strong winds, so I think they were pleased to see them too.

As usual there was a lot of penguin watching to be done and many photos taken.  There were some nice big lumps of ice on the beach, which also provided some good photo opportunities.

I was actually quite pleased that one of my fellow photography workshop attendees and the professional photographer himself both saw me taking a phot through the gap in a piece of ice and then did the same thing themselves.  They both had proper cameras, unlike my little point-and-shoot, and are probably both better at taking photos than I am, but I was pleased that I spotted the shot first at least!

The penguins here were quite interested in what was happening around them and gave me the opportunity for a few silly caption shots.  I have added a couple of the photos for fun, but in a separate posting.  I also quite enjoyed watching the ones that were drinking the drops of water coming from a bit of overhanging ice.

But back to the swimming.  For some strange reason, a bunch of people thought it would be a good idea to take a polar plunge.  This is obviously a regular activity here as the expedition leader had selected this spot as the best place and came prepared with lots of towels.

A dozen or so people stripped down to their swimwear, did a quick dip and ran out again fast.

A few were persuaded to pose for a quick photo op - I took a few of our new friends who were mad enough to do this, but I won't include any of the close up pictures here in case they'd rather not have them made public!  The swimmers were quickly given a zodiac trio back to the ship so that they could get warmed up again before lunch.

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