Saturday, 10 January 2015

Deception island

Deception Island is an island like no other. It is ring shaped, with a very narrow opening allowing boats to access its centre. In fact it is a volcano (the ring being the crater), and one of the only two volcanoes in Antarctica where eruptions have been observed, the last one lasting between 1967-1970. Our guests were certainly not deceived, as we had an action packed day full of different activities.

In the morning we landed at Telefon Bay. After a short hike up an ash slope, we found another smaller crater which was possible to go hiking around. One by one our tender boats arrived and our guests were treated to incredible views over the entire Deception Island. Although the temperature was a balmy few degrees Celsius, the wind picked up and we were happy to return to a warm ship for lunch. In the meantime we had another group kayaking – they were able to reach Pendulum Cove, known for its hotsprings.

View from the top of Deception Island. At distance is the narrow entrance (Neptune's Bellows)

In the afternoon we crossed over to the other side of the island, to Whaler’s Bay (named after the whaling operations which took place here in 1906), where we were greeted by steaming black ash sand. Putting your hand into the sand and you could really feel the heat! We visited some of the fascinating historical monuments along the beach, including a Norwegian whaling station and British science base - both destroyed during the last eruption.

Arriving at Whaler's Bay

Some of us decided to join the hike to Bailey Head – a steep hike up the ash slopes and onto snow fields. Once we had ascended the slopes, we had outstanding views beyond the island, and were able to reach a large chinstrap penguin colony. Back down again, and just in time for some Antarctic bathing. You see, some of the waters around the Bay are relatively warm, but judging by the faces of our keen swimmers, it still looked pretty cold! Finally, we had another group who went on a very interesting “geology cruise” with our very own geologist to the southern part of the caldera of the Deception Island. The group saw some interesting features of the glacier of Mount Pond and looked at the hydrothermal activity in Pendulum cove.

Hike to Bailey Head

Chinstrap colony at Bailey Head

What comes up must come down

Antarctic bathing

Overall, another very busy day in a very incredible place!