14 Dec 2012: Punta Arenas to meet the ‘Polar Pioneer’ at King George Island

As scheduled, we rejoined the other expeditioners and staff on Friday morning to be advised that the weather was still bad in Antarctica and the flight was not able to be operated. And the line were instructed to return to our total and make bookings for another night there. While at the hotel reception desk, attempting to make those bookings, we received an urgent phone call to return quickly to the meeting place as the weather at King George Island had improved and the flight was likely to take off fairly soon. We were bussed to the airport we had a fairly long wait but eventually the clearance arrived and elk chartered flight took off around 2 PM.

It was a lovely, fine afternoon, unusually still as our previous experience was that the southern tip of Chile is normally buffeted by strong cold westerly winds. We were dressed for Antarctica (wearing thermals and carrying extra layers of cold weather gear) so were quite hot on the plane.

After a two hour flight the plane commences descent through the clouds towards King George Island. It was quite an experience to realise that we are in a large passenger aircraft landing through clouds into a somewhat mountainous area using a visual landing! Having passed through the clouds first views of Antarctica gave us a hint of what was in front of us for the following nine days.Image