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…..where to go before you die

sunny 5 °C
View A coddiwomple to the Americas & beyond on ScottyJ's travel map.

The evening started with a beer and pizza night at the Dublin in downtown Ushuaia. Organised by the travel agent, Freestyle Adventure Travel, for all clients who had booked the Antarctica expedition leaving the following afternoon. What a great idea; not only did we get all the final details re boarding it was a great opportunity to meet some of the people we would be spending the next ten days with. A diverse group from all corners of the globe and all booked last minute with Gabriel and Sarah from Freestyle Adventure Travel. The pizza came and went and the cerveza roja flowed until there was only two left, yes me and my new friend Martin from my old canton of Zug in Switzerland. I could tell this was going to be a good trip.

Now if you ever consider doing a trip to Antarctica you can take out four days of your trip for the crossings of the infamous Drake Passage. Looking forward to that as I was you can imagine my shock on the trip across to the Antarctic Peninsular when it was like the proverbial millpond, no rock and roll just plain old smooth sailing but that meant we got there sooner than expected and gave us more time to experience the fascinating seventh continent.

First and foremost it is a cruise therefore between the numerous activities it’s all about the food and needless to say it didn’t disappoint. The chef on board and his very capable staff did an amazing job, breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. Buffet, al a carte, BBQ, seafood stations, pasta selections, desserts, cheeses and copious amounts of wine with dinner with excellent varietal and origin selection, no one day was the same. Yes it was definitely getting cooler on deck however the scope of on-board activities was both plentiful and extremely interesting.
Amongst the expedition crew there are experts in their various fields and right throughout the day there is lectures on just about every subject that concerns Antarctica; birds, seals, whales, glaciers, history, explorers, expeditions and the treaty. In addition we had on-board Robert Swan, first man to reach both the North and South poles, with his foundation 2041. I won’t elaborate here but to say it is a very worthwhile foundation whose aim is to preserve Antarctica in its natural state at the expiry of the Antarctica treaty in 2041. Robert’s talk on his expeditions was fascinating!

The excitement on board was palpable on the second morning as the land mass that was the South Shetland Islands and the beginning of Antarctica loomed on the horizon. The day was spent landing and exploring Half Moon Island and zodiac cruising for wildlife observation. We were not disappointed, whales, penguins, seals and icebergs abounded and the expedition staff at all points were happy t share their knowledge. Day two was eagerly anticipated as today we set foot on the Antarctic continent proper at Brown Bluff of course a great photo opportunity but also amazing colonies of penguins of various varieties; gentoos, chinstraps, adellies and macaronis….not bad for a bloke who didn’t know one end of a penguin from another!

And so, every day we would rise to the programme that was accessible on both the cabin television as well as via the on-board Wi-Fi and as an adjunct constant announcements of cruising whales and other wildlife sightings. Other places included Mikkelson Harbour, Cierva Cove, D’Hainut Island, the beautiful Lemaire channel, Peterman Island, Denko Island and the enchanting Nesko Harbour. Of course, there was the opportunity to participate in the famous Polar Plunge and I along with 122 others grasped the opportunity to be engulfed by the chilled Antarctic waters albeit not for long.

A cruise is an interesting insight into group dynamics and this was no exception. I can say that I met an amazing group of people from all corners of the globe and the conversations and friendships will be treasured for a long time. Martin, Matthia, Diane, Greg, Sandra, Cindy, Coco, Nichol, Navroop, Wil, Dillion, Alana, Ethan, Frank x 2, Rebecca, Anita, Jane, Judy, Svetlana, great people and may our paths one day cross again.

I cannot finish without mentioning the ice. Icebergs, the stunning floating sentinels of this land, some as large as apartment blocks, others carved and sculptured by the environment all bathed in an array of light conditions that bring forth that beauty that can only be constructed by nature…..and the exquisite glaciers, flowing and carving this great continent at will, all powerful and magnificent in a landscape that has and will continue to fascinate.

It is nearly impossible to describe the feeling of constant awe I had for this most amazing part of the world. The sheer beauty and power of nature in its purest form must forever be held scared for generations to come.

Posted by ScottyJ 13:02 Archived in Antarctica

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