Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Xplore in So Georgia Island: 26 Nov 2008

It was an early start for some of our party this morning - 3:00 rise for a sunset viewing and a hot drink. We rose again at a more humane hour and were quickly motored to shore in twos as the choir of almost every animal under the South Georgian sun welcomed us in at the river mouth, in the far right corner of the bay. A waterfall of ice followed by an explosion tumbled from the hanging glacier. 'I won't be climbing that cliff face then, hey Stephen?' 'I certainly hope not.' It's the only harbour that has almost everything you'd want out of South Georgia: two species of penguins, two species of seals, and soaring Giant Petrels and Light Mantled Sooty Albatrosses; and in such masses that you cannot hide in the tussac without being surprised or surprising them. We hiked the whole amphitheater around the mountain's edge, to the glacier pond, and back along the coal-black beach. Penguins surfed the waves in and plodded along gracefully as they fumbled along smooth pebbles and rocks. Male elephant seals bashed nostrils in the tussac, like two large thumbs in a thumb war. Gentoos revealed their newborns and served up fish meals as chirping calls beckoned. The tussac made for a great maize as Audrey and I hiked, and as we summited a ridge, we were speechless - with smiles as our form of communication. "We were replete," was what we were saying! The story doesn't end there: the evening became gentle and warm, as the wind dropped to nothing and the sun set behind the hanging glacier. We clinked glasses full of punch and watched the numerous icebergs, tussac hills, and snow capped mountains turn shades of yellow, orange and finally pink. To fill us further we finished off more of Barbara (the sheep) as chops for supper and here I sit, productively exhausted, ready for another glass of white wine. ~ Maria, crew member Xplore

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