HomeDecember 2016Gateway to Antarctica


Day #4: Preparations for my final leg of travel to Palmer Station, Antarctica were in full swing. I felt relieved that I had made it this far (7,333 miles!) with no major delays or complications. However, I still had the most daunting part of the trip still ahead of me: the voyage across the Southern Ocean to reach our final polar destination.

As a port city on the southernmost tip of Chile, Punta Arenas is a prime location for accessing Antarctica. Known as “the Antarctic Gate,” a number of organizations, including the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP), rely on the town’s ocean access to support their operations. 


The Nathaniel B. Palmer (NBP) at the port in Punta Arenas.

The USAP brings two of its ice-capable research vessels, the Nathaniel B. Palmer (NBP) and the Laurence M. Gould (LMG), to Punta Arenas. From there they carry out research cruises and transport people and cargo to and from Palmer Station, the U.S. research base on the Antarctic Peninsula. 



View of the pier and warehouse.


Earlier in the day, I got fitted for extreme weather clothes (EWC) and accessories at the pier’s warehouse. This gear is provided by the National Science Foundation to prepare participants for the Antarctic climate. Since Palmer Station is a mild region of the Antarctic, I chose a variety of waterproof layers to keep warm and dry for the Antarctic fieldwork ahead. 

Later in the evening, I moved on board the final mode of transportation: an icebreaker research vessel. The Laurence M. Gould (LMG) is a 240 foot ship that works primarily in the Antarctic Peninsula region, transporting support and science personnel and cargo to and from Palmer Station and supporting research throughout the peninsula area. Check out these ship highlights below!

antarctic_gate       thumb_IMG_6923_1024                          thumb_IMG_6933_1024                          thumb_IMG_6927_1024                          thumb_IMG_6928_1024                          thumb_IMG_6940_1024                          lmg_id       bridge_outside       bridge_front       thumb_IMG_6934_1024                          thumb_IMG_6988_1024                          thumb_IMG_6987_1024                          thumb_IMG_6981_1024                        thumb_IMG_6982_1024                         thumb_IMG_6991_1024                      thumb_IMG_6990_1024                        thumb_IMG_6968_1024            thumb_IMG_6970_1024             thumb_IMG_6979_1024                  thumb_IMG_6925_1024
The Antarctic Gate



Gateway to Antarctica — 3 Comments

  1. Hi Natalie,

    Happy New Year to you and Honorio! Your Antarctica adventure looks incredible and we wish you a safe voyage and stay at Palmer Station. We look forward to seeing more pictures of your research in Antarctica and we will keep in touch. Your page “A Fly On The Pole” is awesome!

    Stay warm and Be Safe always!

    Love, Jeff, Kathy, and Amanda Buaron

  2. It is wonderful to experience this with you. My students think it is wonderful and they love seeing all the pictures. This is an authentic education experience.

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