Though the landings last for about three hours, they can be tiring. The sun, the hike and walking around in the parka jackets, waterproof pants and boots can tire really you too. Orne harbor was our first continental landing in Antarctica. It was a zigzag 45 minutes hike up.
Orne Harbor offers spectacular mountain scenery and a steep walk towards a saddle, where a hardy colony of chinstrap penguins try to breed every summer. The view from the saddle reaches to the southern Gerlache Strait and Wiencke, Anvers and Brabant Islands. It is one of the few places, where you can step onto the Antarctic Continent proper.
We had to climb a steep glacier and the reward was a huge colony of chinstrap penguins on the top of the mountain. A chinstrap penguin by the shore awaited our arrival, before jumping into the ocean. Then we started our hike up. What looked like a never-ending hike, actually didn’t seem too bad at all.
A penguin was walking and jumping along with us kept us entertained throughout our hike. Finally, after lots of huffing and puffing, we made it to the top and so did the penguin. Oh what a gorgeous sight it was! On one side of the mountain was the panoramic view of the Orne harbor, where our ship was docked. The perfectly clear waters were surrounded by glacier covered mountains, and we saw the kayakers navigating through the cold Antarctic waters.
On the other side of the hill was a beautiful panoramic view of the Antarctic ocean studded with huge icebergs everywhere. And of course, a colony of chinstrap penguins. A few were at a stone’s throw away, and a few others were far up on the mountains.
Watching the penguins is always so entertaining, regardless of how many times we see them, the way they walk synchronously, and the way they jump in the ice, the way they flap their wings.
Then it was time to go back to our boat. The walk down was pretty scary for me, because of the steepness and also because I’m not used to snow. Several folks were sliding down the hill, which seemed very scary at first. But I was walking down at an extremely slow pace that it would have taken me forever to walk down the hill. So I decided to muster all my courage and slide down the hill very slowly and carefully. It was fun. I wish I had done it sooner!