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The Lindblad Expedition ship National Geographic Explorer transits Lemaire Channel in late evening light on the west side of the Antarctic peninsula in Antarctica. Lemaire Channel is a strait off Antarctica, located between the mainland's Antarctic Peninsula and Booth Island. It is one of the top tourist destinations in Antarctica; steep cliffs hem in the iceberg-filled passage, which is 11 km long and just 1,600 meters wide at its narrowest point. It was first seen by the German expedition of 1873-74, but not traversed until December 1898, when the Belgica of the de Gerlache expedition passed through. De Gerlache named it for Charles Lemaire, a Belgian explorer of the Congo. The channel has since become a standard part of the itinerary for cruising in Antarctica; not only is it scenic, but the protected waters are usually as still as a lake, a rare occurrence in the storm-wracked southern seas, and the north-south traverse delivers vessels close to Pleneau and Petermann Islands for landings. The principal difficulty is that icebergs may fill the channel, especially in early season, obliging a ship to backtrack and go around the outside of Booth Island in order to reach both Pleneau and Petermann Islands.


Michael Nolan