The White Continent or Bust – Antrctica


This post is part 1 of 3 in the series Antarctica

We know it’s been a few weeks since we’ve put up any new blog posts but we’ve got a good reason: we were in Antarctica!

No, we didn’t drive there. LAN Airlines got us to Ushuaia (the southernmost city in the world) and back and from there we sailed along the Antarctic peninsula for 11 days on the MV Antarctic Dream. Our thanks to both companies.

Our home for 11 days: the M/V Antarctic Dream

 

Followers of our Journey know that we’ve been anticipating our Antarctic adventure since August and the planet’s most remote continent totally lived up the hype and our expectations.

And that’s not even a BIG iceberg by Antarctic standards.

 

For one thing, penguins are even cuter than you think and we saw thousands of them–mainly gentoo and chinstraps.

Gentoo penguins near Port Lockroy, one of the shore excursions during an Antarctic adventure.


Gentoo penguins near Port Lockroy, one of the shore excursions during an Antarctic adventure.


Gentoo penguins near Port Lockroy, one of the shore excursions during an Antarctic adventure.


Gentoo penguins near Port Lockroy, one of the shore excursions during an Antarctic adventure.

 

We also got a rare and exciting sighting of a lone emperor penguin (the four foot tall stars of March of the Penguins) on an iceberg far, far from its usual home.

A lost and lonely emperor penguin adrift on an iceberg.

 

The icebergs themselves (which can reach more than 10 miles in length) were stars of the trip as well. They came in intricate wind-swept shapes, impossible blue colors and the ice is ultra-clear–like glass. We know because Karen braved the frigid water and reached in to retrieve a small chunk to enjoy in our on-board cocktails that evening.

Literally the tip of the iceberg in Antarctica.


Icebergs as art in Antarctica.

 

We did NOT put our hands in the water during a zodiac excursion during which our inflatable boat was surrounded by a pod of seven killer whales. We also sighted minke whales on a couple of occasions and crabeater seals and Weddell seals also made appearances.

Our zodiacs were surrounded by pod of killer whales during one shore excursion in Antarctica.


Our zodiacs were surrounded by pod of killer whales during one shore excursion in Antarctica.


That killer whale dorsal fin is at least three feet tall and its heading straight for our shipmates.

 

There were also many human highlights on the ship including “Ernie Shack, Adventure Addict”, the captain’s wife, the crazy defense attorney from New York who brought along her Snoopy Snowcone maker, el capitan guapo, The Glen (who went skinny dipping one day and performed a necessarily brief yet impressive re-enactment of the loping way penguins swim), our fearless leader Pablo and, of course, Maxi. Oh, and Jacques Cousteau’s granddaughter Céline Cousteau was on the ship with a film crew working on a series of TV show about the waters around Chile.

Our shipmate The Glen (who has a tattoo of the Antarctic continent on his back) went skinny dipping in the frigid Antarctic waters off Deception Island just like…


…the penguins.

To learn more about travel to Antarctica, check out the feature we did for the Dallas Morning News including tips for making the most of your trip to Antarctica and our feature for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune about all of the onboard adventures you’ll have.

GLAD WE HAD

All travelers to Antarctica are required to have a medical evacuation insurance policy just in case something awful happens out there in the middle of nowhere. On Call International has covered us on our Trans-Americas Journey for more than a year now so we didn’t have to worry about arranging coverage (or dealing with a catastrophe). Because we were already covered we could focus on just being excited about this trip of a lifetime.

We weren’t taking any chances with the notoriously rough waters of the Drake Passage where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans crash up against each other so we went the prescription route and used a Scopolamine patch. But we also armed ourselves with homeopathic remedies including a pair of Sea Bands. These simple, cheap, reusable devices–picture an old-school wrist sweatband like McEnroe used to wear with a plastic ball embedded in one side–stave off nausea caused by motion sickness (or morning sickness) by applying pressure to a specific point in your wrist. The combo worked and we made it through the passage without getting seasick.

We’re pretty sure nothing could stave off seasickness among the passengers on a different ship, the Clelia II, which sailed just a few weeks after our Antarctic trip. However, the Clelia II broke down in the Drake Passage and got tossed around by 40′ waves for a day or two. The ship is back in port now and everyone on board is fine but this report and dramatic video shows how rough it was for passengers and crew on the stranded ship.

 

Our route from Ushuaia, Argentina at the bottom of South America, across the Drake Passage and on to the Antarctic Peninsula.

 

Check out our follow-up Antarctica post to see many more photos.

 

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Series Navigation:<< You Know You Want It: MORE Antarctica Photos

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26 comments on “The White Continent or Bust – Antrctica

  1. I miss you guys (and the penguins). Thanks for posting this. Love the photos, Eric. They’re really great. Glad you made a reference to Maxi, thought you might have forgotten to add him. Eager to read next installment.

  2. Thanks for sharing your experiences and photos from Antarctica. We went in early March, the end of the season, so some of the penguins were a bit worse for wear from molting and caring for the young. But, they were still so fun to be around – we could have watched them for hours. Still get amused looking at photos and videos of them.

    The pictures of the zodiacs right next to the whales are amazing – very cool that were were able to get so close up. Such an incredible part of this world.
    Audrey recently posted..Panorama of the Week- Some Thai Beach TimeMy Profile

  3. Wow you guys! These are awesome photos! It was worth the wait having you offline for awhile. What an amazing experience to get to go to Antarctica. I hope we will make it one day soon.

  4. Amazing stuff from amongst The Penguins. Glad to have you two back safe and sound (and warm) and posting. OK, I’ll admit it…penguins are my favorite wild animal, and my kids send me stuffed penguins whenever they find one. I have petted one at the San Diego Zoo, but would have loved to be with you on this voyage.

    Steve

  5. Wow you guys, leaping all the way to Antartica. It’s like trumping yourselves as far as adventuring. What wonders still lie ahead… ~~Dave

  6. eeeeeee!!!! thank all of u !! hope u really enjoy this amazing trip to antarctica! nice job men! pictures are beautifull…take care !

    • It’s all so overwhelming and the whales come by so quickly (and I was so busy ‘shooting’), there is no time to be intimidated. However, when I first looked at the photos I realized the big males dorsal fin was taller than people standing on another zodiac, probably 6+ feet…maybe we should have been intimidated. Luckily the killer whales have no interest in us nor see us as prey, at least no interest in a large inflatable boat filled with us. As far as the orcas are concerned, we’re not salty pretzels, or so the biologists say.

    • Really, no interest. Come on, as a traveler, the simple fact that it’s the 7th continent has to have some allure. It’s pricey, but worth it. Absolutely beautiful and unique with great wildlife. Actually, its the penguins that get so close to you.
      If you haven’t seen our following post with more Antarctica photos, check it out.

  7. It is so beautiful, I swear! I love penguins, I want to see them personally but I couldn’t. Antarctic surrounds ices and it seems very cold. Well, I love those pictures above and I love penguins!

  8. Pingback: Travel Tips: Antarctica (Antártida)Travel Guide

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