When we told people we were going to on an adventure to Antarctica, the first thing that everyone talked about was how we were going to be able to see penguins. We were very excited about seeing them but we didn’t know a lot about penguins. We never saw March of the Penguins which we hear is excellent and we’ve never been intrigued by these tuxedo clad flipper flyers.

You have to love these Penguins


Surrounded by Penguins

We’ve seen penguins in Peru and South Africa and wrote about them in our travel blog, but I have to admit, we weren’t quite prepared for what we were about to see in Antarctica.

Our first landing brought us to a colony of ¬†5000 Gentoo Penguins hanging out on the shores of the Antarctic Peninsula where they waddled in regimented lines towards the water, huddled in groups to catch a nap and played with each other while calling out to their mom’s who eagerly fed them regurgitated fish.


Penguins stink and that is a fact!

I must warn you, a penguin colony is in fact the worst smelling odour you will ever encounter in your life. Think of a mix of rotting flesh and rancid bird poop all wrapped up with a putrid fishy smell. It is not a pleasant experience and we found ourselves gagging on more than one occasion while we took their photos.

However, these guys are so cute, that you quickly forget that you can barely breathe and soon your nose settles into a comfortable tolerance allowing you to interact with the Penguins.

There is a rule in Antarctica that you cannot approach an animal closer than 5 meters. However, if you sit quietly and don’t disturb them, they just might venture over to you and explore what you are up to.


Deb gets up close and personal with the Penguins.

This is presicely what happened to most people in our group. Wearing our waterproof pants and Quark Expedition parkas we happily sat in penguin poop to have the chance to interact with these Antarctica cuties.

Some people had better luck than others and even had penguins jump on their laps!


Who are these Yellow Penguins?

We were in Antarctica at the perfect time of year when baby penguins were molting. They had enough mobility to waddle over to see us, but haven’t been around long enough to lose excitement over seeing something new. A group of giant “yellow penguins” from the ship definitely sparked their interest. Penguins are near sighted so I came to the conclusion that they kept walking up to us to see us better. From far away we looked like big yellow blobs, when they walked closer they saw us as something unexpected and pecked at our pants, rubbed up against us and even snuggled beneath our legs.


There is nothing like seeing them in the wild!

There is nothing as special as seeing an Antarctic Penguin in the Wild and from that first landing on, we saw them repeatedly for the next 10 days. And you no what? We never tired of them. They are just as cute and cuddly as you’d expect and whether it is your first penguin sighting or your thousandth, you can’t help but let out a little “Aw” when you see one.

Check out Quark Expeditions for planning your own Antarctic Expedition.

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Leave a comment


  1. DebbZ

    Awwww…..I’m so jealous. I’m dying to visit Antarctica and meet those cute penguin.
    Btw you have such a great blog, I’m happy to find it today. Cheers :)

  2. John

    I had no idea they were so fearless of humans. That is incredible. And how lucky you were to go when the babies were there.

  3. Marlys

    They are so CUTE! Thanks for the tip. If we do get to visit this Penguin colony or any Penguin colony, I’ll certainly pack an oxygen mask. ;-D

  4. Leigh

    Between penguins and icebergs I would love to see Antarctica. I never get tired of looking at penguin pictures.

  5. Laura

    OMG!!! This is the cutest thing ever! I want a penguin to jump in my lap and snuggle my legs too! Love your giant grin Deb!

  6. Erica


    One of my life dreams is to see a penguin in it’s natural habitat. They are my fav animal. SO JEALOUS right now.

  7. Erin

    Aahhh, yes … they steal your heart and don’t give it back. As does the icy land they live in. We went on Quark’s 48-pax Prof Molchanov in 2007 and had a terrific adventure; hope to some day go back, but in the meantime … so many places we’ve not been to.

  8. Sharon (Trini Catering)

    Wow….that looks like an amazing experience. Its fantastic that they will come and interact with you and are not scared of humans!!! Not sure I could take the smell and the COLD though!!

  9. Amanda

    Ahhh, they are so cute! I love that they were curious and came right up to you if you stayed still long enough. That’s definitely not an experience most people can say they’ve had!!

    1. debndave Post author

      We were very lucky to be there at a time when the babies were old enough to be curious. They really wanted to Take a good look at us all:)

    1. debndave Post author

      Haha, terrifying is one way to put it. We had heard before leaving that the smelled bad, but we weren’t quite prepared for just how awful their stench was:)

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  12. Jeremy

    What kind of lens/zoom did you have to get the super close up ones of the penguins?? Do you need an ultra zoom lens or would a standard 18-55 / 55 – 200 set do ya good?

      1. Jeremy

        Thanks for that! We’ll have the SLR with the 18-55mm and a point and shoot with something crazy like 30-40x optical zoom. Just was curious. Haven’t booked yet but hoping to get a good deal on a Feb 2014 tour if we see something pop up.

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