Portal Point

Portal Point

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

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.

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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.Subsequently removed for display outside of Antarctica. Only concrete foundations now remain at Portal Point.

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Highlights Close to Portal Point

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.

Animals in Portal Point

Our trips to Portal Point

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