Livingston Island, Antarctica A Reverie

Livingston Island is one of the southernmost of the South Shetland islands off the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. I guess it's not a very exciting place, a conclusion I'm led to draw when I find myself to be one of a very small handful of the 100 or so passengers on an Antarctic expedition cruise ship who prefer to stay on deck watching it slowly unfurl rather than sitting in the bar.


Livingston Island is one of those nowhere places on the cruise ship itinerary, that has to be skirted to get from, or to, the obligatory stop at dreary Deception Island.

It's cold and foggy, and everybody had a very early start. Perhaps even a few days are enough for many to become blasé about these landscapes. Perhaps I'm a little over-obsessed.

It's true, Livingston Island has little to commend it. Apart from massive glaciers tumbling into the sea through shattered peaks, hints at high forbidding ice domes, the ever changing play of light and shadow, the imaginary treks through these impassable ranges... apart from these, nothing. No penguins, and just a few whales minding their own business in the mid-distance.

Sometimes a half glance seems to reveal an abandoned structure, or a team of explorers battling their way up an immense snowfield. Look again and it was - of course - a trick of the light, a play of shadows. But look again, and, who knows, it might just be.

Somehow a little direct sunlight breaks throw the featureless grey skies and slowly lifting fog, accentuating for a moment a particular feature which shifts and reshapes the lie of the land. Every frame shot with the camera could be of the same place, or could be of locations hundreds of kilometres apart.

Renier Point

Slowly Renier Point comes to dominate the view, framing the snow dome of Greenwich Island to the North. Another point of transition.

Rounding the point, the landscape shifts slightly again as closed packed peaks make way for a broad glacier, as the ship's crew cast around to find a sheltered anchorage.

As we approach Half Moon Island, with the promise of penguins, my fellow passengers begin to stir. They don't know what they've missed. Perhaps they haven't missed anything at all.

Created By
David Mantripp


all photographs (c) David Mantripp. All Rights Reserved.

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