The next stop on our Antarctica trip was slated to be the only stop on the mainland of the 7th continent. All other other stops were islands around the mainland. Usually, after a dive, the divers would join the land team but sometimes that doesn’t happen for various reasons. Therefore, I wanted to be sure I set foot on the mainland of Antarctica and opted to do the iceberg tour + landing instead of diving.
Brown Bluff is at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula and we had a short travel the night before from our previous location. Brown Bluff was formed relatively recently as the result of subglacial eruptions. The area is given the name due to the steep slopes that have a reddish-brown color. It has a 1.5km beach upon which we landed.
The area had a ton of wildlife which I will detail below.
We had a beautiful sunrise with some icebergs floating around the general area
Below is a picture of the cliffs at Brown Beach as seen from the Hondius before going ashore.
I was in the second group to go ashore so we first would go for a tour of some of the icebergs. I got dressed in my room in my required waterproof outfit and lifejacket along with the Hondius provided boots.
My “real” camera was packed away during the transit to the shore and the iceberg tour so my pictures are just from my iPhone.
In the bottom right photo, if you look close, you can see the landing site just to the left of the iceberg floating off of the beach.
During my Brown Bluff research, I found a “Visitor Site Guide” PDF on-line that was produced by the Antarctic Treaty. It has a good diagram that provides a sense of the landing area and surrounding areas.
New Friends at Brown Bluff
I was amazed when we landed. There were seals and penguins everywhere!
The expedition team had setup temporary poles as barriers to make sure we didn’t go anywhere we weren’t supposed to and there were rules about how close you could get to the wildlife. I primarily saw fur seals, Weddell seals, and penguins. Below are some of the many pictures I took while visiting.
Some of the penguins were still molting and a couple of them had “mohawks” that I found really funny.
I could literally watch penguins for hours.
Fur Seals & Weddell Seals
We saw mostly fur seals but we did see one or two Weddell Seals. They were all pretty lazy and didn’t really seem to care that we were there.
Brown Bluff Scenery
The scenery around the Brown Bluff area was amazing. There were icebergs floating around and wildlife everywhere. Of course, there was also the random penguin carcass that was evidence of the reality of life in Antarctica.
PS – Ignore the fact that the flag is backwards – they were shooing me away and into the RIB to return to the Hondius. 🙂
As if the scenery and wildlife at Brown Bluff wasn’t enough, less than hour after we returned to the boat, I heard announcements about Orcas being sighted. I’ve always been fascinated by Orcas. They are definitely the Apex predator in the ocean. Sharks don’t stand a chance against a group of Orcas. At one point, I also saw at least one fin whale in the area. I also noticed at least one young Orca in the group.
We left the pods of Orcas and continued on our journey to our next stop, Mikkleson Harbor which was a long way away and would be our first stop on the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula. We passed some cool icebergs and had a very good plated dinner that night. I chose the excellent fish.
Next Up…Mikkleson Harbor and Cierva Cove