The Lemaire Channel is an 11-kilometre strait that is squeezed between the steep cliffs of the Antarctic Peninsula on one side and the breathtaking mountains of Booth Island on the other. The narrowness of the Lemaire Channel (at one point it is just 1,600 metres wide) allows travellers floating through to witness the spectacular ice and rock formations up close and in detail.
The icing on the cake of this scenic strait is the remarkably still water – something you are sure to appreciate after days on the less calm oceans that are a trademark of this continent. Passing through the Lemaire Channel is a positively peaceful experience, with only the occasional howling wind or excited chatter of other visitors to break the silence.
Though sighted in the 1870s by Germans, the channel was not navigated until 1898. The Belgica, a ship belonging to the Belgian Antarctic Expedition, was the first recorded ship to pass through the strait. It was named by the expedition’s leader, Adrien de Gerlache, after a Belgian man famous for his exploration of the Congo, Charles Lemaire.
Frequently cited as a highlight of Antarctic expeditions, the Lemaire Channel is a prime example of this region’s extraordinary natural beauty and a favourite for tourists time and time again.
As the Lemaire Channel is a body of water, there is no port. You will remain on board your ship as it travels through the strait.
The Lemaire Channel is situated between Booth Island’s southeast edge and the Kiev Peninsula, a part of Graham Land on the continent’s mainland.
As there is no port, there are no port facilities. Your ship will continue catering for your needs.
How To Get Around
You will certainly want to be moving around on deck as you sail through the Lemaire Channel. Some ships may give passengers the option of also exploring on smaller Zodiacs (inflatable rubber boats), but this is not particularly common.
Currency – If your ship sells any items on board, these will continue to be paid for in your cruise line’s chosen currency or currencies. However, your expenses are likely all covered by your ticket.
Time Zone – Your cruise ship is unlikely to alter the time zone they align their schedule with during your Antarctic trek. This time zone is usually reflective of the time zone at your port of origin and/or the port you will be returning to.
Weather – This is Antarctica, so the weather is predictably chilly. Winds passing through the channel can also be quite strong and cold, so dress warmly before heading out onto the deck. The water here is eerily calm in contrast to the rough waters you are likely to experience elsewhere during your voyage.
Stunning Scenery – No matter where you look while crossing the Lemaire Channel, you will be greeted with breathtaking views. The rock formations, mountains, and icy cliffs here are completely unspoiled and absolutely beautiful to behold. Take as many photos as you can, but also take plenty of time to simply see the wonders through your own eyes. This is an experience you will not forget any time soon.
Una Peaks – Depending on your direction of travel, the Lemaire Channel either begins or ends with a narrow northern entrance guarded by Una Peaks, an intimidating pair of basalt towers capped in ice. The loftier of these two peaks is 747 metres tall. Together, they create an impressive first or final impression of this scenic waterway.
Fantastic Fauna – Wildlife is not particularly common in the Lemaire Channel, but there is still a decent chance of seeing some animals. There are some gentoo penguin colonies that like spending time here, as well as a number of whales (orca, minke, and humpback) that sometimes pass through. A leopard seal or crabeater seal could occasionally pass by too, either swimming in the water or lazing about on a drifting chunk of ice.