Antarctica…that’s a wrap

The final couple days on the trip to Antarctica were spend going back over the Drake Passage. We barely knew that’s where the ship was because the water was so calm, making it ‘Drake Lake.’ During this time we did lots of recap of the trip with our guides  and prepared to unfortunately finish the voyage.

At a certain time an unexpected announcement came over the PA system. Based on how fast we had been moving because of the very calm water, we were going to make a detour that is pretty rare. We were able to head over to Cape Horn! Stunning view, and it was amazing to have the water as calm as it was — many competitors in sailboat races would have loved these conditions.

MEL_0823

After being around Cape Horn for a bit we returned up the Beagle channel to port in Ushuaia. After disembarkation we toured  the city a small bit and then went to Tierra del Fuego. Absolutely gorgeous day for it and a nice way to wrap up the trip.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And a quick view of Ushuaia from the deck:

Video_daylast

This was definitely an amazing trip. Not something you do every year, nor that you would do every couple. So glad I was able to check Antarctica off my list and that I have visited all seven continents. My biggest question now…what’s next?

*If you are interested in checking out this continent, I would highly recommend going through Quark Expeditions. They were amazing. You need to plan/book pretty far in advance, or at least it really helps to. This trip was booked 10+ months prior, and you don’t have to pay all at once. Happy to give more info.

 

Antarctica, Day 10…wow.

This was our final day of exploring on the trip. The next day we headed back towards the Drake Passage and the trip was going to wrap up. This day was absolutely amazing, all sun, light breeze and awesome views. We landed on Deception Island by way of Neptune’s Bellows.

There were buildings there from an old Norwegian whaling station and a British Antarctic Survey base. We also got to hike up this great hill and see for miles. Wanted to stay there…BBQ anybody, let’s just kick back here for a bit!

We also got to see more seals and Chinstrap Penguins for the first time!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And videos, of course:

Video_day102

 

Video_day101

And where we were, Day 10, March 9:

Antarctica, Day 9…landed!

We continued North and were on Day 9 of the trip. We only had two days left for exploring the area. We still had to set foot on the actual continent of Antarctica. All the others times we’d been on land it was islands. Today was going to be the day.

In the morning we ‘only’ took zodiacs ride. Brutal, right…we just got to check out scenery that way. But we were so eager to step on land that it was tough. We did see amazing icebergs, though, that gave unique colors, and seals and whales.

In the afternoon we set foot on land. Finally, I made it to the 7th continent! And, we weren’t warmly welcomed by a seal. This video barely shows how we had to handle it (the guides are the ones you can see). We were told if approached by a seal to put arms in the air and stay away. This went on for several minutes here and yes, hiking/ski poles started coming out. He would back down then come back to action.

VideoDay9

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The log, Day 9, Mar 8:

 

Antarctica, Day 8…killer!

The start of this day was absolutely astonishing…lighter clouds than before and beautiful sun. We could not wait to get started. The first place was visited was Danco Island. This picture is part of the foundation of one of the buildings the used to be on the island.

MEL_9940

We walked around Danco for awhile and just had breathtaking views of the water, the mountains and saw some whales, while surrounded by penguins. Not far away, across the water, we saw an avalanche occur as well. We just heard an odd noise and then saw a large white cloud. Pretty cool — and we know nobody was at risk of injury.

When we boarded the zodiac from the island the fun really started. You do get to see whales while in Antarctica, but they are normally Humpbacks. Well, as we’re cruising along, something killer happen…we saw Killer Whales! Ok, so we already acted like kids when we saw ‘normal’ whales, this was like a once in a lifetime experience (very rare) to see down here. The kids in us erupted. I was able to catch a quick photo. Incredible.

MEL_0004

And some other pics of the day:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Videos, too:

Video_day81

Video_day82

And a rundown of spots on Day 8, 3/7:

Antarctica, Day 6…ahh, penguins

Ok, so we go to zoos, we see pictures. Penguins are SOOO cute. This is the day of the real thing. We get to (start) see(ing) penguins. The key word there is start. Over the course of the next week all we did was see penguins.

Anyway, there is a rule in penguin land. You can not be closer than 5 meters to a penguin. Let them be in their habitat, it is their space. But, it they approach you, that is fine, the 5 meter rule is gone. You just need to be sure to let them do what they want..and don’t pet them!

So we make landing and all you see are these darn things. It’s tough to not be 5 meters away, so glad the rule doesn’t apply if they are near you.

This day we also saw seals and whales. The seal that is in several of the pictures in the Leopard Seal, which we saw quite a few of, and the can be quite aggressive. A very involved day!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And some videos from this day, all about penguins:

Video_day61

Video_day62

Summary of the day, Day 6, March 5.

Antarctica, Day 5

We have now started to go back to the North on our trip, visiting Prospect Point and Fish Islands. This was one of the days where is was truly just cold. The temp proper wasn’t bad but it wasn’t very pleasant out.

We still saw a good amount of wildlife and a good amount of ice. One of the fascinating thing was moving forward in the zodiacs through the big chunks of ice. Just hearing and feeling them.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And a simple video of the ice and as we going through it in the zodiac.

Video_Day5

 

7th Continent, Antarctica, first stages

For the past several years I have done a major trip each year. I always want to explore a new country when I go, and hopefully a new continent. This year I finally got to visit the one I had been hoping for, Antarctica. I was supposed to go a couple years back but there was a problem with the vessel I was supposed to travel on so the trip was cancelled about 6 weeks before it was going to take place. I had therefore been anticipating this trip for even longer.

I have been above the Arctic Circle, so on this trip my goal was to go on the far end of the other side of the earth, the Polar/Antarctic Circle. After extensive research and suggestions, the best company to do this through was Quark Expeditions with the Crossing the Circle: Southern Expedition. You get to see so much that the area has to offer. You start in Ushuaia, Argentina, angle SW via the Drake Passage, drop below the Circle, then head back NE between islands and the tip of Antarctica before heading back to Ushuaia (the southern most city in the world).

AntarcticaTrip_LargeMap_web

The trip had 200 passengers and 150 crew members. The cabins were good size, the food was well above par and the education we received on history, biology, ecology and more was amazing. You could barely have a moment to yourself on this trip.

Crossing the Drake Passage can rarely be forecast. It could be Drake Lake or Drake Shake. The rating of conditions is normally done an a scale of 1-10. On the way south, we were about a 4-5. Jumping forward, on the way back, total Drake Lake…would give it a 1, super calm.

We left Ushuaia on the afternoon of Wednesday, 2/28, got out to the passage that evening and were through it a couple days. Nothing too much to see during that time, but lots of education. We saw our first iceberg on Day 3 of the trip, or Friday.

Some of the highlights of these first few days.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After all this, the fun truly started.