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  • Dawnelle Salant

Neko Bay, Antarctica

Neko Bay

We make our way toward the next landing spot and I spend these hours on deck. Even though I’m a writer and a photographer, I doubt that I can fully capture the beauty, the wildness and the wonder that is Antarctica. The light is almost pink, but the blue of the glaciers steal the show. Icebergs and bergy bits (small pieces of icebergs that have broken off) fill the water. The ship navigates through a strait overflowing with icebergs and I have no idea how the captain manages to get the ship through here safely. I can’t stop taking photos, but nothing on the screen compares to what I am seeing in real life. I have never seen anything like this, I can’t believe what I am seeing, and everyone is saying the same thing. It is literally like we are on another planet. I stand on deck and just watch paradise glide by. Antarctica is going to ruin travel for me - I don’t think anything can compare to what I am seeing.

We arrive at our next landing site, and as we board the zodiacs, we are told that Neko Bay is a favourite among the staff and tourists and that it’s going to be even better than this morning, which is hard to believe. But it is. Humpback whales frolic in the bay, only metres away from the zodiacs. Our landing is more hurried this time as the glacier that lines the mountain can calve at any time, sending tsunamis onto the beach. The bay is stunning - more gentoo penguins clamber over the rocks to make their way up the steep hill to the rookery. I do the climb again, but this time I take hiking poles. The snow is soft and slippery, and the climb is hard. About a quarter of the way up, I shed all my layers and hike in just my thermal top. I never dreamt that I’d be hot in Antarctica. The climb is absolutely worth every bead of sweat and every muscle ache. The views are phenomenal. Icebergs bob in the deep blue waters and I can still see the humpbacks. The glaciers crack and groans and everybody watches for chunks to break off, but it doesn’t happen. The penguin rookery is perched on the edge and a glacier sits directly behind them. The contrast of the penguins and the glacier behind them is probably one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

At the top, people line up to have their photo taken on a rocky platform that overlooks the bay. When I take my place, a booming noise has everyone looking behind me and I spin around just in time to see an avalanche cascading down towards the water. Our guides stop and I can sense some panic in their faces. The avalanche is heading directly for the ship which is anchored not far off the shore. We hold our breaths, but the snow spreads out gently and the water isn’t affected at all. I get my photos taken and make my way slowly back down to the beach and retrieve my jacket. The photos of me on the rock are probably the coolest photos I have ever had taken. Even though I’m a writer and a photographer, I doubt that I can fully capture the beauty, the wildness and the wonder that is Antarctica.

Back on ship, more humpbacks are spotted, so many that we have lost count. They are feeding and I see a humpback mouth for the first time. Every second here provides something new, something amazing.


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