Antarctic Peninsula- NW Side
A popular expedition cruise destination
The North-West portion of the Antarctic Peninsula is the most frequently visited and is home to many of the most popular landing sites for expedition cruises.
Pictures of Antarctic Peninsula- NW Side
Highlights in Antarctic Peninsula- NW Side
This small, steep-sided island is only 1.5 by 1.25 miles and two-thirds of it sits under a permanent ice-cap. On its northern shore is a pebble and boulder beach backed by steep cliffs where you will arrive by zodiac from your Antarctic cruise vessel and come ashore. At both ends of this beach are impressive Gentoo penguin colonies. You will be able to clearly see the trails they use to make their way to and from the water. There are other colonies and nesting sites on the higher ground behind the beach, and throughout the island. You can also see the evidence of the whaling activity that went on here in the early 1900s, including discarded whale bones and the remains of the equipment used to hall them ashore for processing. This small island is carefully protected - only one ship at a time may land passengers here and there are other restrictions to ensure the wildlife is not unnecessarily disturbed. Some areas of the island are closed to visitors, but the rest allows you to roam freely, and your expert guides will show you the resident flora and fauna, as well as explaining the island’s whaling history.
Goudier Island is a small, low-lying island of bare, polished rock just 100 yards from Jougla Point in Port Lockroy Harbour. It’s part of the larger Wiencke Island. Often surrounded by sea ice, any snow cover on the island usually melts away by the end of the summer. Goudier is home to “Base A” - established by the British in wartime in 1944 - which was used as a scientific research station until the early 1960s. After falling into disrepair, the station was restored in the 1990s and is now looked after by a Heritage Trust. The base is permanently occupied, and its inhabitants still conduct important survey work on the penguin colony for the British Antarctic Survey. You will usually be briefed by the Base Leader before you land ashore, and only 35 visitors are allowed inside the Base at any time. This is to ensure the artifacts and the fabric of the base are preserved. This “time capsule” gives a fascinating insight into the work and lives of early Antarctic research pioneers and how they lived on Goudier Island. Access to the rest of the island is usually restricted to marked paths, both to protect wildlife and because the surface is uneven and slippery. However, you will be able to observe the resident penguin colony, and can also spot other birds and seals on the shores and in the sea.
Orne Harbour is a mile-wide cove on the west coast of Graham Land, just southwest of Cape Anna. It was first discovered by a Belgian Antarctic survey of the Danco coast in 1898 and was then in regular use by whaling vessels in the early 1900s. The site is popular for two reasons. Firstly, it’s a beautiful location that provides stunning Antarctic views. The exposed rocky shoreline contrasts with the permanent snow patches dotted on the higher ground above it. To the south, there is deep permanent snow and ice. Glaciers ring the harbor and steep peaks rise above. It’s glorious! The other reason to visit Orne Harbour is to see the nesting colony of chinstrap penguins that have made their homes here. There’s a steep but safe hike up from the beach to the colony that sits on higher ground above the beach. As well as the penguins, you will be rewarded with remarkable views of the bay, and the glacier that regularly calves into the waters here.
Petermann Island marks the extremes for two Antarctic species - not bad for a small rock less than a mile long! This rocky outcrop that rises 500ft above the sea has a permanent covering of ice. The island is just south of Booth Island in the Lemaire Channel. Petermann Island is volcanic in origin, and it has a permanent icecap covering more than half of its surface. It’s home to the northernmost colony of Adelie penguins, but also the southernmost colony of Gentoo penguins. First mapped by a French expedition in 1909, Petermann Island is also home to breeding colonies of skuas and Wilson’s storm petrels. There’s also a good chance to observe Weddell, crabeater, and fur seals. Visitors can hike up to the highest point of the island, where a cross and cairn remembers three members of the British Antarctic Survey who died in 1982 attempting to cross the sea ice from Petermann Island to Vernadsky station. There is also a refuge hut built by an Argentian expedition in 1955 - its red metal walls make a fantastic contrast against the snow and ice.
Pleneau Island is one of the less-visited Antarctic visitor sites but is well worth it. First mapped in 1903 by the French Charcot expedition, it’s a beautiful location that overlooks what’s known as an “iceberg graveyard”. Whether viewed from the island itself or from a Zodiac, there are always stunning ‘bergs to photograph here. The island itself is less than a mile long and lies just off Hovgaard Island in the Wilhelm Archipelago. Pleneau is home to terns, and your expert Antarctic guides will make sure that you avoid disturbing them in the breeding season. The permanent ice cap at the top of the island looks stunning, but it’s riddled with crevasses and not safe to walk on. The northern end of the island hosts a breeding colony of blue-eyed shags, and you will almost certainly see penguins and seals among the stunning icebergs.
Portal Point is a narrow, rocky point on the northeast of the Reclus Peninsula off Graham Land. It was named by British explorers as it formed part of the “gateway” for the route to the Antarctic Plateau. In 1956, a refuge hut was established here, known as Cape Reclus Refuge. It was only used for two winters and then abandoned. In 1996, the hut was removed and is now in the Falklands Island Museum. All that’s left of the refuge on the Point are the remains of its foundations, often not visible under the frequent snow cover. Indeed, this year-round snow is why there are no penguin colonies here. However, Portal Point is a popular place for Weddell seals to haul out, and while you are landing you will often see them in good numbers.
The Yalour Islands (also sometimes called Jalour Islands) are a 1.5-mile long group of small islands and protruding rocks off Cape Tuxen in Graham Land. The islands were discovered and named in 1903 by the French Antarctic expedition led by Charcot. Most of the Yalour Islands are steep-sided or unsuitable for landing due to sea conditions, but the largest island has some cobbled beaches where you can put ashore. Visitors come here to make the short climb up from the beach to the Adelie penguin breeding colonies. There are thought to be around 8,000 breeding pairs of Adelies in the Yalour Islands, and they have nested on every bit of rock they can find that’s not snow-covered. It makes for an amazing sight as you come in to land on the beach! Photographic opportunities here are excellent. The high mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula form a stunning backdrop to shots of the Adelie nest sites. Your expert guides will lead you around, showing you the best sites, and answering all your questions about the penguins and their lives.
This wonderful natural harbor is surrounded by glaciers. It’s an almost perfect safe anchor for ships, which is why it was used by sealers for many years. You enter Yankee Harbour via Shopski Cove, which is between Spit Point and Glacier Bluff on Greenwich Island. This is one of the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica. Yankee Harbour was used by both American and British sealers from the 1820s onwards. The British called it Hospital Cove. There’s a commemorative plaque here that celebrates Captain Andrew MacFarlane who explored much of the Antarctic Peninsula in 1820. There are many artifacts from the days of sealing still littering the shoreline here. As well as the foundations of a sealer’s hut, there are the remains of a try pot that was used to render the blubber from the hunted animals. Your Antarctic expert guides will be able to tell you the history of sealing here and the harshness of the lives these men had. The other great attraction here is the large Gentoo penguin colony, with over 4,000 breeding pairs making Yankee Harbor their home. The landing beach here is terraced, and there is a melt-pool from the glacier on the eastern end. Depending on the conditions and breeding status of the penguins, some longer walks in the area are possible along the curved gravel spit. As well as the penguins, skuas often nest here - their feathers camouflaging them against the rocky ground. Your guides will make sure you don’t step on any accidentally!
D’Hainaut Island, Mikkelsen Harbour, Trinity Island
D’Hainaut Island is a tiny rock island in Mikkelsen Harbour. It’s less than half a square mile in size, and it’s approached through a small bay that’s lined with dramatic cliffs of ice. It was first mapped by a French expedition in 1910. The island often remains snow-covered until very late in the season, and the captain of your Antarctic cruise vessel will expertly navigate through the shallow reefs that are in the bay. This island was used extensively for whaling, and there are artifacts and bones dotted around the island. D’Hainaut is one of the few Antarctic visitor sites where you can roam freely around the whole island, taking care not to disturb any of the artifacts and watching your step on the rocks, of course. There is a small historic refuge here that was built originally by the Argentine Navy in the 1950s, then again in the 1970s, and most recently in 2017. However, the refuge can’t be entered except in emergencies. There is also plenty of evidence of the whaling industry on the island. You can find the wrecks of several boats as well as many whale bones. There is a lively Gentoo penguin colony here, and you can often find Fur Seals basking in the sun.
The Orne Islands are a cluster of small, low-lying rocky islands at the entrance to the Errera Channel. They lie just off the northern coast of Ronge Island off Graham Land. The largest Orne island has moderate slopes leading to a rocky central ridge that has permanent snowbanks. There are also three other small islets that make up the group. Your landing will be via a low rock platform on the northwest side of the main island. Once ashore, you can roam freely around the island under the supervision of your expert guides. The Orne Islands are home to Skuas, which nest in the rocky outcrops here, as well as other Antarctic seabirds and penguins. In winter, impressive snow cliffs can form near the landing site. To avoid disturbing the wildlife, the number of visitors on the island is restricted, and during nesting seasons your guides may limit the areas in which you can roam to protect nests.
To Antarctica & Lectures
The weather in the Antarctic can be unpredictable and conditions can change quickly. Your highly experienced captain and bridge crew will skilfully navigate these ice-laden waters, bringing you ever closer to your first landing on the Antarctic continent.
Neko Harbour is an inlet on Andvord Bay off the coast of Graham Land in the Antarctic Peninsula. It was discovered by a Belgian expedition in the early 1900s. This sheltered inlet was named after The Neko, a Scottish whaling vessel that worked these waters between 1910 and 1925. Neko Harbor has a beach and a rocky outcrop that is surrounded by glaciers and towering cliffs. This is a popular site as the glaciers that surround this bay regularly carve during the season, leading to some stunning photo and video opportunities if you are lucky! There used to be a refuge hut here that was built by Argentina in 1949, and was in irregular use all the way until 2009 when it was destroyed in a severe storm. It has since been cleared from the site, with just a few remains now to be seen. The gentoo penguins that live here and used to surround the refuge hut don’t seem to mind that it has gone! Their noisy cries will greet you as you land on the beach. You can often also see Weddell seals here in the sea or hauled out on the beach at Neko Harbour. There are also skuas and kelp gulls seen regularly here.
Wordie House, Winter Island
Nestled onto the only flat part of Winter Island, Wordie House is a hut built in 1947. It was named by a British Antarctic expedition of the time after James Wordie, who was the chief scientist on Shackleton’s famous 1914 Antarctic exploration. Winter Island is less than 1,000 yards long and is one of the Argentine Islands off the coast of Graham Land. Before it closed in 1954, the hut was used to take meteorological readings using instruments stored inside special screens, one of which still stands today. These readings were among the most important and longest set of weather data ever recorded about the Antarctic and helped scientists gain a greater understanding of the meteorology of the continent. Wordie House was made a “Historic Site and Monument” in 1995 and has been looked after by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust since 2009. There are almost 500 original artifacts still on the site, including original cans of coffee, records, pots and pans, plates, and many more £everyday” items. This makes Wordie House a true time capsule from the golden age of Antarctic exploration and scientific research. The hut is now fully weathertight, and work continues on preserving this unique station. Visits to Winter Island and Wordie House are managed by the nearby Ukrainian station Vernadsky, and you may well be briefed by the Base Commander or other official before you board your boats for the landing. Uniquely for such a historic site, visitors are allowed to roam freely under the supervision of their expert Antarctic guides. They will answer all your questions about the history of the hut, as well as the artifacts that you can find here. Visitors to Winter Island can also expect to see seabirds such as skuas and kelp gulls, as well as seals and penguins.
Damoy Point is a rocky headland on the west coast of Wiencke Island, near the northern entrance to the natural harbor at Port Lockroy. It was discovered and mapped by the French Antarctic expedition of 1903 led by Charcot. The point is rather unassuming and at first glance doesn’t warrant a visit. However, it has a couple of hidden gems - two very well-preserved expedition huts. The first, known as Damoy Hut, was built in 1973 and was used by the British Antarctic Survey as a summer air facility and a personnel transfer station, but hasn’t been used since 1993. The interior is in excellent condition and almost looks as if it could be put back into use straight away. There are even tin cups hanging on the kitchen wall as if ready to give travel-weary scientists a restoring cup of tea! Just outside Damoy Hut is a refuge built by Argentina in the 1950s. This is not open to visitors and is still in use as an emergency refuge should the need ever arise. Apart from these historic buildings, visitors will see a small colony of Gentoo penguins who breed here, as well as plenty of seals and sea birds.
Danco Island, Errera Channel
Danco is a small island in the southern part of the Errera Channel, a body of water that runs between Rongé Island and the coast of Graham Land. Only 1 mile long, Danco’s wide, flat beach rises to a permanently ice-covered hill which gives stunning views over the channel. Visitors often report being able to see Humpback and Minke whales from here as they travel between the islands The backdrop of crevassed glaciers in the surrounding mountains is stunning. The island hosts around 1500 breeding pairs of gentoo penguins. They like to nest away from the beach up the slopes, and so you can always see them making their journeys to and from the sea. Seals are also frequent visitors to the island, as are a variety of Antarctic bird species including skuas, terns, and kelp gulls. Danco was also the site of Base “O”, built by the British Antarctic Survey in 1954 as a base for geological research and exploration. The base was abandoned in 1959 when the expedition ended, and the huts were removed in 2004. On the beach, you can find a plaque with an inscription giving the story of the base.
Georges Point, Rongé Island
Rongé Island is high and rocky. Some 5 miles long, it’s the largest of the islands that form the west side of the Errera Channel, off Graham Land. Georges Point was first mapped in 1897 by the Belgian Antarctic Expedition and named after one of its members. You land on a rocky beach with a penguin colony at one end that your expert Antarctic guides will guide you around. They will also take you on a carefully marked trail up to the higher ground behind the beach giving you a great view down over the concentrations of penguins along the shore. There are also often Antarctic Fur Seals to be found at Georges Point on Rongé Island as well as plenty of sea birds. The rocky cliffs and height of the island make for some magnificent backdrops and great opportunities to capture the essence of the Antarctic in your photographs.
Found at the western end of Wiencke Island in Port Lockroy, Jougla Point is a very rocky peninsula with many small coves. It was first mapped in 1903 by a French Antarctic expedition and forms the entrance to Alice Creek. The approach to the point is nothing short of dramatic! You will have stunning views of glaciers, snow cornices, and steep, crevassed snowfields as you enter the harbor. Your landing here will be against rocks on the northeastern end of the point. Like many bays and coves in the area, Jougla Point has artifacts and remains from the whaling industry. You will see whale bones at the sites where the carcasses were dragged ashore for processing. Your expert Antarctic guides will take you along Jougla Point to observe the Gentoo penguin colony as well as the blue-eyed shag nesting areas. Other wildlife you can observe are kelp gulls and skuas, with seals also a frequent sight. You will be able to roam freely around the beach area to observe and photograph, with your guides on hand to answer any questions you may have and to ensure visitors keep away from any closed breeding areas.
Port Charcot, Booth Island
Port Charcot is a small bay at the north end of Booth Island. Booth Island is a rocky and rugged Y-shaped island off the Kiev Peninsula in Graham Land. It was first mapped in 1904 when the French Antarctic expedition led by Jean-Baptise Charcot over-wintered here. After building a few rudimentary shelters and the cairn that can still be seen at the top of the hill, the expedition used Port Charcot as its base for exploring the area. There is a wooden pillar with a plaque here where you can still make out the names of the first expedition members who wrote them almost 120 years ago. The walk to the cairn is delightful, although you’ll be carefully led by guides as wandering off the path can be treacherous, with loose rocks and crevasses. Visitors can also walk to the east where there is a noisy Gentoo penguin colony. Chinstraps and Adelies can also often be seen on the beaches here.
To the Weddell Sea & Lectures
Named after its discoverer, James Weddell, who first entered this area of the Southern Ocean 1823, the Weddell Sea has a notorious reputation. Responsible for the loss of Shackleton’s ship Endurance, it has been described as “according to the testimony of all who have sailed through its berg-filled waters, the most treacherous and dismal region on Earth.” (Thomas R. Henry, “The White Continent”) Much of the southern area of the sea is covered in a permanent ice shelf, and there are always icebergs adrift here. Remarkably, the Weddell Sea holds the record for having the clearest water of any sea, with scientists classifying it as having a similar clarity to distilled water. But this purity holds much danger for the unwary, with centuries-old tales of ship-crushing flash freezes, dangerously sharp icebergs, and sudden powerful winds and storms. Luckily, your state-of-the-art ship and highly professional crew are well-equipped to navigate you safely through this breathtaking icy water. An experience that you mustn’t miss is to witness the sun rising above the astonishingly clear waters and illuminating the crystal ice that will surround you. We assure you that the 3 am wake-up call is worth it! Despite your distance from land, you are bound to see beautiful all-white snow petrels cruising above the floes and open water. This is a stunning part of the world that only a small fraction of people will ever be able to experience for themselves.
Animals in Antarctic Peninsula- NW Side
Wilson’s Storm Petrel
Antarctic Fur Seal
Our trips to Antarctic Peninsula- NW Side
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