I made my dream X come true and visited Antarctica in January 2009 – it was magnificent and although the trip was not cheap and I saved money for a year it was worth every single penny. There is so much to talk about this trip but I am going to keep it low 🙂
Flight to Buenos Aires
It was a long flight and the entertainment system didn’t work – yes it was a boring flight and I had literally nothing to do. Buenos Aires definitely is a very photogenic city – we were not there for a very long time. Probably 2 nights and then we were off to Ushuaia.
Straight to the liquor shop, as you do need some champagne when you are Down South to celebrate 🙂
First stop was the Falkland Islands so we did not cross the notorious Drake Passage. The first few days we were adjusting to the life on the sea. It wasn’t hard at all. We took the MS Fram from Hurtigruten, it is a rather small ship with ice class. In the mornings you can have breakfast and go to the gym and or sauna. We also had two blocks of school about geology, marine biology (my favourite), climate warming, and other scientific stuff. We also had schooling about all the animals that live in the Antarctic and also about history. Since the trip was mainly about Shackleton and his adventure down south. Every evening before going to bed, someone was reading the book Endurance out loud on the top deck while observing the albatross birds playing with the wind and waves of the wild ocean. At the Falkland Islands we saw the first few penguins and albatross birds up close. It is impressive to see how all these animals live side by side.
Mmmmh, one of my favourite islands. Don’t know why. Is it the mountain peaks, the glaciers, the penguins and cute seals that just sunbath around? I don’t know. I gotta apply for a job down there again 🙂
Mystical, the way you know that you are now in Antarctica. I think at 60º latitude is when Antarctica kind of begins. In the morning you were still able to be on deck with a t-shirt, but then in the far distance there was this fog, and as soon as the vessel made it’s way trough this fog the temperature dropped and I was walking around with warm clothes. Soon we saw seals in the water, catching fish and the whales were not far away then either. I love whales and I would have loved to be a marine biologist so for me this was amazing to see whales every day! Such great animals! Yes, it is cold most of the time and that is when you are glad that there is a gender separated sauna on the ship.
My daily routine
Usually I got up at around 5am in the morning, went straight to deck #5 to look at the waves and the albatross playing in the wind. Usually also spottet a few humpback whales, fin whales and seals. Sometimes, when close to the shore also penguins. They are truly adorable creatures. I love them! After I went to the gym, always equipped with my camera stuff. In case there is a whale sighting. Then breakfast, lectures about biology, geology, history and all of that. Then a small lunch and off outside to the deck. We had lots of stops along the way where we would go onshore – which was an entire procedure. Had to wear all kinds of clothing, desinfect the rubber boots and then wait until your number gets called up. Then go outside and on to the little zodiac boat. Adventurously get to the shore, while the cold salty water splashes on your face. You look left and right, and there are ice bergs and penguins everywhere and you are in a different world. You sit by the shore, penguins coming up to you and look at you all curious and you wonder: I am the intruder to this innocent, pristine continent that is pretty much only ice and is full of life (despite the ice, cold and harshness of the true wilderness). As the days went by, we saw so much and breath in clear, pure and fresh air. Every day for 2 weeks. We visited Scientific Stations, man those people are so lucky!
Then came the Drake Passage and I was high on anti-seasick pills. I was seasick from South Georgia Islands to Antarctica for 2 days and it was not fun. Drake Passage didn’t show its harshest face but the waves were powerful. Those pills were life savers!
Soon, Ushuaia was visible and so was the smell of petrol. And it was noisy, so noisy. And we are talking about Ushuaia, a small village on the tip of the South American continent. Leaving Antarctica was a sad moment. Full of questions if it is the right thing to have tourism down south. Now days, the cruises are fairly cheap and personally don’t find that a good development. Antarctica should always be something special, something that you actually really have to choose to go to and also save up all the money to go there. Also, you are amazed on how Shackleton and his crew survived on a little rock called Elephant Island. How they managed to take a rowing boat, across the wild ocean to South Georgia Island. How they found that island is astonishing! And then cross an island that doesn’t have an existing map. Unbelievable, but they did it. You can go and check out the boat in Cambridge. Definitely on my list to do. I would love to see that boat live. The James Caird II.
I can only encourage you to watch this movie: The Last Ocean.
And you can view some of my photographs here. Just a few. I still have not gone through the sorting process. I just keep looking at the photos and wanna go back. So that is why I don’t look at them that often. It’s bittersweet.
Wanna end this blog post with a beautiful poem at Cape Horn:
I, the albatross that awaits for you at the end of the world…
I, the forgotten soul of the sailors lost that crossed Cape Horn from all the seas of the world.
But die they did not
in the fierce waves,
for today towards eternity
in my wings they soar
in the last crevice
of the Antarctic winds