Sunday 20 February – Antarctic Peninsula
We enter the Errera Channel at 6.30AM. The morning starts with a zodiac cruise through Neko Harbour with the evil purser Elsa as our driver for the morning, who never pauses more than a second or two for anyone to photograph anything, always has the boat pointed the wrong way, & never lets anyone stand up! Nevertheless, her humorless demeanor doesn't deter our group, who still glean maximum pleasure from the fantastic cruising amongst the icebergs & leopard seals populating the bay.
After the hour or so cruise, the rest of the morning is spent at the landing point on the rocky beach of Neko Harbour, our first landing on the actual Antarctic mainland! It's a scenic spot with a long hike through the snowfields to the top, and astounding views all around.
The hike to the top crosses several "penguin highways," Gentoo penguins trudging up through the snow to their favorite spots. Occasionally, we notice a few chicks chasing their mother around, a technique employed by the parent to discern the stronger of the two. Often, the weaker one is not fed, or as much, and is eventually abandoned. One guy, sitting along the path, in the guano, is approached by a chick, who ends up nuzzling up to him under his jacket for an hour or so.