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One of the most common ways to reach Antarctica is by boat, and passage through the Lemaire Channel is a highlight of any cruise to the world's most wild and pristine continent.
Located between Booth Island and the Antarctic Peninsula, Lemaire is a 7-mile channel that is only about 5,250 feet wide. Because it is sheltered, the water is among the most reliably calm in Antarctica and reflects the gleaming ice on either side. The passage is so photogenic it has been nicknamed "Kodak Gap."
Lemaire was first navigated in 1898 and was named for a famous Belgian explorer who ventured into the Congo, creating a link between the frigid Antarctic wilderness and the equatorial African jungle.
Travelers on Antarctica tours can disembark onto the Y-shaped Booth Island and observe the local population of chinstrap, gentoo and Adelie penguins, as well as their predators, the leopard seals. As is the case elsewhere in Antarctica, the animals on Booth Island have never been hunted and so are unafraid of humans, and will often walk right up to travelers, who can snap a close-up picture.
Dusk is an especially popular and memorable time to sail through Lemaire, as the setting sun creates complex and beautiful patterns and shades on the ice and in the water.
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