A regular stop for any voyage through Antarctic Sound.
Rating: * * * *
It is all about the rock. First off, it is one of the very few spots you can get ashore on the Antarctic peninsula proper on the Weddell Sea side of the peninsula, so if touching Antarctica is on your list of things to do, this place is for you. But the landscape itself is spectacular. Surrounded by glaciers and small (by Antarctic standards) ice caps, a 3 kilometer (1 3/4 mile) long rocky beach rises to a steep scree slope, which in turn rises to meet a towering rust-colored cliff of volcanic rock. This might almost be central Australia, or a part of the United States’ Badlands, if it were not for the penguins and Weddell seals along the shore, and the ice cap high above. There are Gentoo and Adelie penguins, as well as the possibility of finding nesting Snow petrels for those willing to follow a guide higher up the slopes.
Where is it?
Brown Bluff stands in the Antarctic Sound, some 15 kilometers (9 miles) south-east of Hope Bay, where the eastern edge of the Tabarin Peninsula drops almost sheer to the water from an ice-capped 745-meter (244-ft) summit.
The beach can occasionally be a bit rough due to drifting ice and choppy swell, and the Weddell Sea usually saves its worst weather for after you have landed, but the rewards of the location make the chance of being called back to the beach early a risk well worth taking.
Adélie penguins number tens of thousands on Brown Bluff, and several hundred Gentoo penguins also live there. The slope is covered with loose rubble and rock slips are common—scientists believe that falling boulders or landslides may have obliterated some penguin rookeries. You will usually get the chance to watch the penguins negotiating brash ice along the shoreline, a sight definitely worth going ashore for. Snow petrels nest in the higher scree slopes, and for the wildlife enthusiasts, this rare opportunity is one not to be missed.
Human activity within the Antarctic Sound region has largely bypassed Brown Bluff.
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