Esperanza Station

Antarctic Peninsula

Argentina built this base in 1951, though a naval post was established here in 1930. Esperanza was significantly expanded in 1978 and women and children began to reside year-round as part of Argentina’s efforts to establish ‘sovereignty’ over Antarctic territory.

Silvia Morello de Palma, the wife of Esperanza’s station leader Army Captain Jorge de Palma, was flown in from Argentina when she was seven months pregnant. She gave birth to Emilio Marcos de Palma, the first native-born Antarctican, on January 7, 1978. Over the next five years, four more boys and three girls were born here.

Today some 20 children live with their families year-round at the station, which can accommodate up to 100 people. Most personnel are military, and about 35% of Esperanza’s population is made up of spouses and children. With a chapel, a bank, a post office, an infirmary, a gravel soccer field, a graveyard, 1.5km of gravel roads and 13 chalets housing families, it is more village than scientific station – there are only two modest laboratories.

Close to the jetty and behind ropes are the ruins of a stone hut where three members of Nils Otto Gustav Nordenskjöld’s Swedish Antarctic expedition spent a desperate winter in 1903, surviving on seal meat. Nordenskjöld named the bay in honor of these three men. Esperanza staff rebuilt the hut in 1966–67; a small museum of relics is in one of the station’s buildings. Other historic equipment is kept outside near the stone hut.

An ice runway on the nearby Buenos Aires Glacier serves DHC-6 Twin Otters flying from Marambio Station about 20 times a year.