Of all the places that I visited in Antarctica this past December, Neko Harbor was the most magical. The wide inlet on the Antarctic Peninsula was named for a Scottish whaling boat that operated in the area between 1911 and 1924. On the day that Seabourn Quest anchored here, the sky was blue and the temperature was relatively mild, somewhere above the freezing mark, a perfect day for exploring.
As the Zodiac brought us closer to the shore, we began to see seals and hundreds of penguins. The shoreline itself was teeming with wildlife, with the black-and-white waddlers marching by the landing area. The expedition team was quick to point out that our route was flagged off so that we would avoid disturbing these wonderful creatures.
I didn’t make it far along the route before I plopped myself on my belly and poised my camera on a Weddell Seal. I was on the snow for a good 15 minutes, mesmerized by the subtle movements of the seal, yawning, scratching its belly, holding its head up and looking directly at me. Eventually, I stood up and made my way up the mountain, along a flagged route to a high vista where this photograph was taken. If you squint your eyes, you can see others walking the trail. They look like tiny specks.
On the way back, I was encouraged by members of the expedition staff to take the quick way down, on my butt, with my boots slightly elevated to zip down a snow bank. What an exhilarating ride, and it would have been even more exhilirating had someone not told me to tuck my parka jacket into my pants. The “snow scoop” could have made for a chilly ride down otherwise.
Probably the greatest endorsement I can give to Neko Harbor is this magical place is where Seabourn Quest Expedition Team Leader Robin West chose to exchange vows with his lovely bride. I could hardly imagine a better place for such an event. Theirs is a marriage forged by ice and magnificent beauty.