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My Amazing Arctic Adventure - Part 2

Added 24 Jul 2014
My Amazing Arctic Adventure - Part 2

Continuing the series of blogs from her voyage to the Arctic, here's part two of Hanna Holmes' experiences. Read part one.

"On day three we woke to amazing pancake ice. The landscape was one of crystal-clear water with the stunning ice stretching as far as the eye could see. Many pairs of eyes searched the powdery pads for our first sighting of the most majestic creature in the Arctic and after a few moments (time doesn’t really apply here) we found him/her. Well other people did - I spent ages searching the horizon! I did eventually find the bear but it was not easy. The best way to find a polar bear is to look for a yellow blob. As the landscape is mainly white this does make them stand out a little bit but their urine is also yellow, so unless the thing you’re staring at moves you could ultimately be staring at a patch of wee. This did happen to me on more than one occasion!

Pancake Ice

We spent the day on the ship travelling along the ice in the northern most part of the world. The crew must have realised we were all getting a bit cold as the day wore on, so they set up a table and served us hot chocolate with Kahlua and cream. This was greatly appreciated and warmed us up a lot. At one point we were the most northern people on the planet! This was really special.

Later that afternoon we saw two more bears; each sighting was a little bit closer than the last. As we followed the floating pancake ice we also saw harp seals (named for their harp shape pattern) and Minke whales. We all watched the animals as the day turned into night, with only the time of our meals to give us any indication of the time passing. That and of course the midnight sun.

Polar Bear Pancake Ice

The following day we headed inland and very early in the morning there was a sighting of a bear and cub! The ship stayed for a few minutes before continuing on its course to try and get to see Monacobream Glacier. Today was going to be a day that was dictated by fog and it was not a good day for us. In the Arctic fog is really bad news. You can see nothing; the weather can change so quickly with fog coming over us in the blink of an eye. If we can see nothing neither can the bridge, so everything stops.

The expedition staff and crew on board did their utmost to keep to the schedule. We had a Zodiac cruise around the glacier planned for just after breakfast and this went ahead without any problems. We were called down in groups to disembark; there was some level of excitement as we all wanted to get off the ship and over to the massive sky blue 'bergs. The Zodiac cruise was very exciting, but wet. It was rainy and windy the whole time but nobody cared - it just added to the experience. As we weaved around the ice and slush in the water we saw kittiwakes and Arctic turns floating by on the water or perched on the smallest bits of ice. It is difficult to truly describe the colours of the icebergs. Each one is different shade of blue, ranging from deep ocean blue to sky blue. This is all due to the oxidisation. Each one helps to create a magical watery landscape.

Beautiful Blue Ice

All of a sudden we heard what sounded like thunder in the distance! The glacier was calving; this is when large pieces of ice fall off the face. What an amazing thing to witness. A piece the size of two small buildings fell into the sea and created a big wave which then created a ripple effect among all the Zodiacs in the area. As the sea settled, the birds all flocked to the place the ice landed to feed on the plankton rising to the surface. At that moment we all realised the true power of the glacier.

Glazier Carving

After dinner that night the expedition staff had scheduled another landing at Smeerenburg which is the Dutch capital of the region and also known as blubber town. Unfortunately due to the thick ice and fog it was decided, that it was not safe to go out so we spent the evening watching a documentary. You could really sense that the staff and crew were disappointed (much more than the passengers) about not being able to offer this landing. We'd had a great day though so off to the next place we sailed."

Continue on to part three.

Hanna travelled on Realm of the Polar Bear (ACS)