Port Charcot, Booth Island
Noisy penguins watch you climb up to 120-year-old remains of early Antarctic exploration
Information about 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.
Interesting facts about Port Charcot, Booth Island
The location is the overwintering site of the French Antarctic Expedition, 1903-1905 onboard the Français under the command of Jean-Baptiste Charcot. Remains from the expedition are still visible in the form of a cairn with a wooden pillar (designated HSM 28), the stone built magnetic hut, the wreck of a tender and other artefacts.
For many 'expedition staff' Jean-Baptiste Charcot is the favourite of the polar explorers. He went onto to a second expedition to the region on the Pourquoi Pas?, overwintering just to the south at Petermann Island.
Known as the 'gentleman' explorer, he named many of the places in the northern peninsula, including Mt. Français, the highest point in the region that can be seen as you look north as the towering snow covered peak of Anvers Island on a clear day, it is 2,760 metres/9,055ft.
Charcot carried an immense amount of scientific studies during the 'Heroic Age'. No one died, no one suffered, and there is a delightful picture of Charcot sitting and relaxing at a table in the snow and drinking a glass of wine with the bottle on the table, celebrating Bastille Day!