Halfway Point – Trekking South As Dr Anne Heads To Antarctica

 In Dr Anne Small

Dr Anne was keen to embark on the next leg of her trip to Antarctica, hoping to see some wonderful sights and also spread the message of the important work being achieved by the Australian-based organisation she supports, For The Love Of Wildlife (FLOW).

Overlooking the Frei Base at King George Island

Dr Anne’s travelling companion Leona the toy lion was all prepared, wearing her jacket brandishing the striking lion logo of FLOW, yet bad weather had delayed their departure by a few days.

After not being able to fly out the previous day from Punta Arenas in the southern region of Chile, we were up bright and early … ie 5am! (Leona the lion had to drag Dr Anne out of bed and away from her beauty sleep.) We waited a few more hours before finally boarding the ‘Penguin’ plane and we were off!

The awesome sight of the ‘Penguin Plane’ as it streaks down the remote runway

However, after we had crossed the notorious Drake Passage the fog got thicker and thicker and even Leona was worried that we would have to turn back. Finally, there was a break in the fog and we could see the SMALL landing strip at Frei, a Chilean base on the southern part of the island.

The runway at Teniente Rodolfo Marsh Martin Airport is made of dirt, gravel and small rocks which must be so firmly compacted because we could not see any dents where the planes landed.

Next, a 1.4 km walk from the base at Frei (Chile) to the next outpost, Bellinghausen (Russia) with its signpost and the Bellinghausen Church, a Russian Holy Trinity Orthodox Church.

A short Zodiac ride to the boat, the Ocean Adventurer, greeted with a glass of champagne – Leona was home.

Bellinghausen Church, a Russian Orthodox Church atop the hill

Because we had missed 1½ days of cruising, the Expedition Leader, Christian, (Leona instantly fell head over paws for him) decided we would make a landing further south at the volcanic Deception Island after dinner at about 9pm – it was still light.

The sun ‘set’ at about 11.30pm and rose at about 1.30am so we never saw one of those beautiful Antarctic sunsets.

On Deception Island, Dr Anne and Leona observed a kelp gull with its fluffy grey chick, making sure they didn’t disturb the pair (gulls would never have seen a lioness before!) and explored the deserted tanks left by the whalers when the volcano erupted.

Abandoned tanks and infrastructure at Whaler’s Bay

Whaler’s Bay at Deception Island has a famous history as a whaling station and the volcanic activity there sometimes results in a steamy vapour drifting up from the shoreline, which makes for a very surreal setting.

It’s almost painful to think back to this area processing thousands of whale carcasses in the early 1900s, before the bay was used for aircraft with the British Antarctic Survey in the 1950s.

But when the volcano erupted in 1967 and covered the area with hot ash, everyone cleared out. No wonder! Thankfully now we know such more now about why the life of every whale should be treasured. It felt so good to have Leona there to represent all wildlife and why protecting the whales is paramount.

What a day – Leona slept very soundly.

More images below…

All aboard for the trip of a lifetime to Antarctica!


ABOUT For the Love of Wildlife (FLOW)

For the Love of Wildlife’s vision is to restore the essential connection between all living things to bring our planet into balance. Through leading the human-animal relationship, it is our aim to inspire the planet to live harmoniously, respectfully and in unity with all living beings.
If we’re to reverse the demise of the planet’s wildlife we have to be courageous to face ourselves, get real about what is happening and act from a place of deep compassion. It is no longer acceptable to “turn a blind eye” – we are all in this together and it’s our job to enact change, to do our part in stopping the extinction crisis.

A REMINDER: All donations to FLOW over $2 are tax deductible. Visit here for more information http://fortheloveofwildlife.org.au/#what_you_can_do


Now that’s what I call a sign post!

A Kelp Gull and its fluffy grey chick on Deception Island


Abandoned tanks left by fleeing whalers long ago – Deception Island




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