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Portal Point

Portal Point

Weddell Seals will join you on the beach near the remains of a historic refuge hut

Information about Portal Point

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. There is also a small Antarctic Shag colony nearby and the bat is great for Zodiac cruises amongst the icebergs, to enjoy the views of the peninsula, glaciers tumbling down to the bay, look up to the polar plateau, Leopard Seals on ice floes, and the chance to see Humpback Whales.

Interesting facts about Portal Point

Site of the remains of British hut CR (Cape Reclus), also known as Portal Point, (established in 1956, and occupied intermittently for survey work, 1957-58. Party from Danco Island (Station O) wintered there 1957 to continue local survey work. Four-man party, led by Sir Wally Herbert, completed the first traverse by dog team from Hope Bay to Cape Reclus 9 Oct-30 Dec 1957, along and over the peninsula, following the polar plateau. The hut was subsequently removed for display in Port Stanley and only the concrete foundations now remain at Portal Point.

But it is still a nice place to visit and realised how few places have access to the polar plateau.

Now it is believed that neither Cook or Peary actually got to the North Pole at the start of the 20th century and it is very likely that Wally Herbert was also the first person to walk to the North Pole, in 1969. The same time as man first stepped into the moon.

Pictures of Portal Point

Highlights Close to Portal Point

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 Portal Point

Our trips to Portal Point

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