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Orne islands

Orne Islands

Rugged but beautiful islands where skuas, penguins, and seals breed.

Information about Orne Islands

The Orne Islands are a cluster of small, low-lying rocky islands at the entrance to the Errera Channel and Orne Harbour. 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.

Interesting facts about Orne Islands

The permanent snow banks make a stunning backdrop to the rocky beaches and lowlands where penguins hop from boulder to boulder on their way to and from the sea.

The Orne Islands were first surveyed by Gerlache's Belgian expedition in 1989 - the first to over winter in Antarctica and 'kick starting' the heroic age.

Pictures of Orne Islands

Orne islands

Highlights Close to Orne Islands

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, that is close to the Lemaire Channel and the division between the NW and the SW peninsula . There is the remains of a stone hut used for astronomical observations and 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.

In the bay where the Français was anchored (but difficult to reach with the ice) the letter 'F' was carved onto the rocks and can still be seen.

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 be seen on the beaches here. If you are lucky, you might get all three together!

From the top the views are stunning, especially the view to the SW, towards Pléneau Island Island, overlooking 'the iceberg graveyard'. This iceberg graveyard can be explored on a spectacular Zodiac cruise, either from ships anchored off Port Charcot to the 'NW' of the Lemaire Channel, or from ships anchored off Pléneau Island and Booth Island that had sailed through through the Lemaire Channel. For full details of this Zodiac cruise refer to the details under Pléneau Island.

Animals in Orne Islands

Our trips to Orne Islands

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