Port Lockroy [dead link] was a UK base on tiny Goudier Island, just off Wiencke Island and facing Anvers in the Antarctic Peninsula. It closed in 1962 but re-opened as a museum in 1996. It's often visited by cruises and has a large gentoo penguin colony.
Port Lockroy is a bay forming a natural harbour on the north-western shore of Wiencke Island in the Palmer Archipelago in front of the Antarctic Peninsula. The Antarctic base with the same name, on Goudier Island in this bay, includes the most southerly operational post office in the world.
The United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust collects data for the British Antarctic Survey to observe the effect of tourism on penguins. Half the island is open to tourists, while the other half is reserved for penguins. A staff of four typically process 70,000 pieces of mail sent by 18,000 visitors that arrive during the five month Antarctic cruise season. A souvenir passport stamp is also offered to visitors.
The bay was discovered in 1904 and named after Edouard Lockroy, a French politician and Vice President of the Chamber of Deputies, who assisted Jean-Baptiste Charcot in obtaining government funding for his French Antarctic Expedition. The harbour was used for whaling between 1911 and 1931. During World War II, the British military Operation Tabarin established the Port Lockroy Station A on tiny Goudier Island in the bay, which continued to operate as a British research station until 1962.
The historic importance of the site relates to both its establishment as an Operation Tabarin base in 1944, and for the scientific work performed there, including the first measurements of the ionosphere, and the first recording of an atmospheric whistler, from Antarctica.
Some of the cruises that visit Antarctica visit the Port Lockroy region. If you take a cruise, the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust — which runs Port Lockroy — will not need to educate you about Antarctic Treaty rules and what you should do and not do when you are on the island. In other words, if you come to the island by yourself, you should read the guidelines [dead link] about what to do and not do on the island, since there will be no cruise ship's organization to tell you this information.
The other option is to go by the Trust's tour system, and that way you will not need to worry about planning for your trip to Port Lockroy. You will need to get in touch with them before going to the island.
Port Lockroy is only a few buildings, so getting around on foot should not pose a challenge. The Trust also provides a floor plan [dead link] of the place.
See and do
- Gentoo penguin colony. There are a lot of penguins in the area, but according to the Trust's website, you should not go to the part of the island where the penguins live.
- 1 Port Lockroy Museum. Since 1996 the historic base at Port Lockroy on Goudier Island has been staffed by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust during the Antarctic summer as a museum and post office.
Buy, eat, and drink
There is a gift shop on-site. However, you should bring your own food and drink. Proceeds from the shop fund the maintenance of the site and other historic sites and monuments in Antarctica.
If you come on a cruise or other boat, you can sleep on the boat. The UK Antarctic Heritage Trust makes clear at its website that on-site accommodation is only for those who work at the base and that you shouldn't sleep on Goudier Island.
Generally, visits to the base are seen as a day-trip activity, but of course visiting Port Lockroy is more than a day-trip when you include the boat journey to the port and back.
There is a post office at the port.