Why Antarctica? Let me tell you our story. For years my wife Mary and I had watched the documentaries on TV and dreamed of visiting the least-visited continent on Earth. For a long time our careers got in the way, raising kids, not enough money. Then, you know what? The barriers all melted away and we made the decision to go. This was greatly helped by the advent of flights from Punta Arenas in Chile to King George Island at the tip of the Antarctic peninsula – even though we both have good sea legs and actually prefer long days at sea.We made the commitment 18 months ahead to take advantage of sale pricing. Then it was a case of reading up on all the forums to make sure we took all the right gear. Quark Expeditions was our cruise operator of choice. It was a nice balance of a quality, small expedition ship (about 112 passengers), daily, sometimes twice daily, shore excursions by zodiac, good reviews from previous travellers and lots of inclusions. Quark supply jackets (to keep) and muck boots. The only gear we had to purchase was waterproof pants, thermals and gloves.
The trip we chose was Crossing the Circle. This includes the flight from Punta Arenas to King George island where you meet the ship – in our case the Sea Adventurer. From there it is an eight night cruise calling in at various research stations, glaciers, bays and islands as the weather and sea-ice conditions dictate.
The trip was stunning. And some!
We were blessed with great weather. Some days were cloudless blue skies with absolutely no wind. It was so still you could hear the icebergs dripping as they melted. The reflections of the glaciers and mountains in the water were indistinguishable from the real thing. The sun could be intense and warm even though it was zero degrees celsius. You could sit on deck dressed in a T-shirt. If a puff of wind sprang up, on came the jacket.
The scenery, wildlife and history was breathtaking. We had a real sense of treading in the explorers footsteps. At the point of crossing the Antarctic circle, the sun never dips below the horizon. The difficulty then is deciding when to sleep, or sleep at all. Will I miss something? Eventually, you relent and retire to your cabin for the next day’s wonders.
Most of the Antarctica trips depart by boat from Ushuaia in Argentina. You have a choice of shorter trips to the peninsula (with or without crossing the circle), or the longer trips to the Falklands and South Georgia, or a combination of both. They are different experiences: different bird life and history. The month you depart will also determine the life cycle of penguin chicks: from unhatched to nestlings to fluffy adolescents.
I can’t speak more highly of Antarctica as a unique and treasured experience.
You may contact me (Richard) using the form below:
Tel: 08 9799 3082 or mobile 0417 174 103
I can also arrange a Skype or Facetime session.