8:30 AM: After breakfast, we headed out to Paradise Bay – it was a slightly overcast day, but the views were gorgeous regardless. Vlad was our Zodiac driver and navigated us through the still, calm waters of the bay. We drifted up close to some amazing glaciers, from which chunks of ice occasionally broke off with a resounding crash.
As we waited and camped out in front of one particular glacier, Vlad regaled us with stories of previous trips and the work he’s done in the Arctic, along with his photography exhibitions in Russia. The photos on his CD were gathered from a span of 2 to 3 years and quite impressive. Photos that were particularly interesting to us were those of fur seals and king penguins, which we didn’t see on this trip (another reason to come back, right?). He also has exhibitions back home in Moscow, where he displays photos he’s taken on his Antarctic and Arctic journeys. He mentioned that one of his favorite aspects of taking wildlife photos is the fact that animals never complain about taking bad photos – absolutely true!
After waiting for about 10 minutes, we finally saw ice break off and fall into the water, causing miniature tidal waves that shook the Zodiac. Even before the ice broke off, every now and then you could hear the thundering cracks from within the glacier, with no other noises disturbing the silence and still water. You could also see the clear reflections of the surrounding mountains in the water, until our Zodiac trail disturbed them.
After Vlad’s tales about Arctic trips to the North Pole, we were all convinced that a trip up north would be added to our future goals. His favorite photo: a photo of the expedition leader eating BBQ in the foreground, with a polar bear eating a seal in the background. Quark Expeditions also offers trips to the North Pole once a year, where you cruise on a nuclear powered icebreaker. Sounds like an adventure, all right.