Yalour Islands & Vernadsky Research Station
From the National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica
Every dreamer knows it is entirely possible to be homesick for a place you have never been, perhaps more homesick than for familiar ground.
Antarctica reaches out and holds onto your heart and genius, and you are never ever quite the same. Penola Strait, backed by azure blue sky and welcome warm sunshine was the backdrop for Zodiac cruising and gave us close-up views of icebergs, a fast moving front dropping snow, and nesting blue-eyed shags. The place is peaceful and fills your senses.
The Wellness Team, Gil & Anne, joined us for kayaking in the calm and protected waters near the Ukraine Field Station where silence was interrupted only by the drip from a paddle or a call of a Gentoo penguin. Experiencing Antarctica from the waterline is a privilege that few wear on their sleeve. The vastness, the silence, surround you as you glide around ice edges and wind through dense aqua icebergs, floating in seawater.
Researchers at Vernadsky have documented the Gentoo penguins colonizing here only in the last few years. On our visit, the field staff graciously welcomed, toured, and toasted homemade vodka & the international spirit of this place, which no single country owns. There is peace here.
Our late evening northbound transit of the Lemaire Channel through horizontal snow, yielding to magical golden light, kept photographers on deck well past the midnight hour. The majestic peaks reflected alpine glow as the sun made its final appearance of the evening.
May peace be on this land without international borders.
— CT Ticknor and Michael Nolan, Photo Staff, National Geographic Explorer