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Tuesday 18th November - Wednesday 3rd December 2008

Pete Morris

As we stood on deck in the evening sun, surrounded by fast-ice, sipping wine and enjoying the barbecue, we shall never forget the moment that a four foot tall penguin waddled on to the ice, instantly stopping the party! It was of course our first Emperor Penguin, the true symbol of the Antarctic, and the main reason for our participation in this voyage! It was the first time that we had taken a group on a short tour to Antarctica, and the first time that we had specifically selected a trip that attempted to see the ‘lord of the ice’. Thanks to good ice conditions, calm sea conditions, a great group and a fun and interesting mix of fellow passengers, crew and staff, it turned out to be an incredible success. During a couple of days in Tierra del Fuego and the ten days aboard the Aleksey Maryshev, we managed a total of 86 species of birds and eleven species of mammals. On dry land, highlights included some incredible encounters with the superb Magellanic Woodpecker, the diminutive Magellanic Tapaculo and the scarce Yellow-bridled Finch. Once on the ocean, the highlight was simply to be surrounded by a superb array of fantastic seabirds, with favourites including Light-mantled and Wandering Albatrosses and Snow and Antarctic Petrels. Around the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetlands, the scenery and the icebergs took over with scenes so incredible, they are impossible to describe or even photograph! Here we were, of course, captivated by the antics of the penguins. The Emperor Penguins were the absolute highlight, but we also marvelled at the antics of the Adelies, Gentoos and Chinstraps. Add to this the seals, the whales, the zodiac cruises, the coffee-tea girls and everything else and it truly was a holiday of a lifetime!