Calling At Telefon Bay, Deception Island, Antarctica – “It’s Black; It’s White”

The Antarctica trip just kept getting better and bizarrier (that’s probably not even a real word, but it will do) and more diverse. After a fun filled morning which involved steering our boat through the narrow “Neptunes Bellows” (the slim entrance into the centre of the “C” shaped Deception Island), docking at Whaler’s Bay, seeing the old Whaling Station, some remote worn out huts, the windy experience at Neptune’s Window and then swimming at Whaler’s Bay in ice cold water. Now we were off to Telefon Bay, itself also inside the gorgeous Deception Island. The zodiac cruise to it pictured above.

Arrival at Telefon Bay with Rodrigo right in front of me and the pink coated Panny Yu lurking just ahead…
There she is…
At Telefon Bay I fully expected to find the only phone booth in Antarctica, but this is Deception Island remember and meant to deceive us. The reason for the name “Telefon Bay?” Read on…
Deception Island is volcanic, surely an oxymoron in amongst ice and snow. Antarctica, typically is a land of contradictions, superlatives and oxymorons. The ground was of gravel, ash and lava type surface and I lifted up chunks of rock resembling hard lava. The volcanic history of this part of Antarctica can tell you the answers. I still hadn’t found that telephone.

The scenery was phenomenal. Just immense and against a backdrop of only black and white, you could be forgiven for thinking I took my photos using the black and white function on my camera. “It’s all too beautiful”.

It got yet more beautiful and interesting as we climbed up a slight slope or hill, as everyone’s eyes were focused on a penguin shape in the rockface. Was this for real? Or another of the mysterious, magical things to happen on Deception Island. I’m led to believe that the fact the rocks looked like a penguin was entirely natural and real. We all gasped in awe and the song “Itchycoo Park” came to mind. There was no music on Antarctica as it’s important to take in the sounds there and the natural beauty. But if a ghetto blaster had been pumping in the background, this was certainly one for “It’s all too beautiful”.
A few more of the “it’s all too beautiful” penguin shape. This was no time for small faces, our faces were getting bigger and from grinning massively into the Antarctic skyline, below us lay a crater…active as recently as 1959…

The black and white wonderland around the crater, a short hike was ahead.

First another airing of the red, white and yellow Northern Ireland flag, proof that the camera wasn’t actually on black and white mode.
And the terrain at the start of the walk was almost white-less, we were walking on a volcano! Well almost…
The hike was short, cold, magical and a bit windy. We got to the top of the terrain and views continued to be incomprehendable. Quite in awe in all honesty. Just check the last photo of the set above. This was all for real.
When we reached the top, a pile of rocks and a stick marked “the peak”, probably not the peak of the whole area, maybe just this side of Telefon Bay. There was still no telephone and probably no reception or signal. But a nice wee chance to flaunt my Northern Ireland flag once again.

Enjoying the top with Rodrigo from Brazil, who I would end up meeting in 3 different continents over the next 3 years (2010 – Antarctica, 2011 – Brazil, South America, 2012 – Indonesia, Asia).

Again the beauty of Telefon Bay clear for all to see.

Relaxing on the ashy, gravely surface. This was a journey like no other.

When I glanced down at the beach on the descent I noticed its uncanny resemblance to the Estonian National Flag. A year before I had been travelling with Estonian Natalja Tsumakova, and 3 years earlier this exact month I had been at Wembley Stadium supporting Estonia against England. Natalja’s worldly trips hadn’t quite led her to lands as magical as this. Here’s the real Estonian flag for comparison…

Again the magic of Deception Island at work. I had to look twice…

The beach was empty.

Well, apart from everyone on our boat!

There’s food as well. If you don’t mind seaweed dipped in volcanic ash.

A lopsided and off colour Estonia flag bubbled into, as volcanic and geothermal activity was below us.

This water is partially heated. Bubbles from the volcano come up into the waters, very interesting. There’s an area nearby called Pendulum Cove which is apparently heated and more suitable for the Polar Plunge/Antarctic Dip.

From lava and dirty ash to white, crisp clean snow. A land of opposites indeed. Time to chill out in the snow once again.

A marble like appearance is apparent as the snow sits on the edge of the beach. You don’t often see a mix of snow and ash together in a natural formation such as this.

Again on the beach and it was almost time to forget that there might be a telephone here. It’s spelt wrong for a start. And it would be – “Telefon” was the name of a French boat which was docked in the harbour for ages while waiting repairs and lended its name to the Bay. It wasn’t time to get the iPhones out and see if BT Cellnet can get a signal/reception. 

“What we did today” – the onboard list of what we are doing each day. Action packed, fun filled, everyday was like this.

Back on board and we left Deception Island behind sadly but fondly – it was time for Happy Hour cocktails all round – green “Gentoo Penguins”, which was “Gin (two…of), with lemonade and cherry” I believe. All was too beautiful for one culture drenched Northern Irishman to take in. “When’s the next landing?” was question of the day, and as the volcanoes of Antarctica faded out of sight, we were focused on a trip to King George Island ahead of the next adventure.
Where – Telefon Bay, Deception Island, Antarctica
Date – 12th November 2010
Position – 62o 56’S/60o 35’W
Wind – Average
Weather – Cold, dry, windy
Key Song – The Small Faces – Itchycoo Park “It’s All Too Beautiful”
Also covered by M.PEOPLE (a version I recognise more):





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