Elephant Island

Elephant Island

Hearing the foghorn blare as we left the cabin didn’t bode well for sightings of Elephant Island. We were travelling through a thick damp blanket of fog, more slowly than planned, and the forecast was uncertain. The expectations were high for the day – to set eyes on the island where English Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton heroically returned to rescue his crew left stranded on the island for 4 months after the shipwreck of the Endurance – not a man lost, despite suffering extreme weather conditions with little in the way of food or supplies. On top of that it was my mum’s 70th birthday and the scenery was a big part of the celebration.

The fog continued through the morning and we sat down by the windows with some books to wait. We were meant to approach around 2pm and I was checking my watch.

The Fog Lifted – Endurance Glacier Revealed

Closing in on 2pm it was a little brighter, there was more sea visible surrounding us, and then suddenly the fog had lifted and there was land! Tall snowy mountains with a large glacier pouring in between to the ocean, called the Endurance. We looked, and looked some more, I succumbed to the anti-seasickness pills and passed out on a lounge chair for a quick 20 minute snooze, and then went back to staring out across the water.

Clarence Island

We saw Clarence Island off the coast of Elephant Island before the encroaching wall of fog swallowed us. We weren’t able to make it round the north end of the island, and so we missed seeing the memorial statue to Shackleton.

Entering the Fog

Travelling through this landscape in an enormous floating city with radar to guide us through the ice field made me wonder how the early explorers managed to navigate and survive the waves, the icebergs, and the solid snow cliffs and rocky peaks that suddenly erupted out of the clouds. Could they have imagined they were making way for budget mass tourism?

In further contrast to Shackleton’s expedition, we celebrated my mum’s birthday with a cake and a second dessert after dinner and came back to the cabin to find a bottle of champagne, a plate of fruit and a bowl of chocolates, plus chocolate-dipped marizipan roses that I had ordered as an extra treat.

Happy 70th mum!

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