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Monday Travel Update – Back From Antarctica Edition

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SHARES

After 18 days at sea I am finally back on land in Ushuaia, Argentina. It is amazing how this city, which is as remote as any city and the southernmost city in the world, seems like civilization after you are at sea for almost 3 weeks.

Being on a ship with very limited internet access isn’t easy when you run a website for a living. Thankfully my able assistant Amy was able to keep things running while I was off taking photos of penguins.

You will be seeing daily photos from this trip for years to come. I have an enormous treasure trove of images that I am going through over the next month.

This really was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had in 5 years of traveling. I say that as someone who hates cold weather and easily gets seasick. Sometimes, however, if you want to go somewhere amazing, you have to deal with some discomfort.

Here are some random initial thoughts from the trip:

  • It isn’t that cold. I don’t think temperatures ever got below freezing for us. We visited the northernmost part of Antarctica and the part which is surrounded (mostly) by open water in the summer. It is literally colder in the US/Canada/Europe than it is in the Antarctic Peninsula right now. Mind you, I grew up in a cold climate so 0C (32F) isn’t that big of a deal for me, but some people from Australia and Israel dressed up as if they were going to walk to the pole. I got by on the deck of the ship wearing my sandals, a heavy sweater and a stocking hat. What can really get you is the wind and the winds can blow very strong.
  • We were very lucky. We had great weather and an amazingly good Drake Passage. We even had an amazing display by humpback whales right off the side of our ship. We lucked out at almost every level.
  • South Georgia was the highlight of the trip. Not to take anything away from Antarctica, which was amazing in its own right, but South Georgia was on another level. It isn’t as sexy as the continent at the bottom of the world, but the wildlife you can see there is almost impossible to find anywhere else on Earth. Almost every bit of shoreline was populated with seals, penguins and other sea birds. We saw colonies of penguins over 100,000 in number several times. If you ever get a chance to visit South Georgia, jump on it. Few people visit it and it is difficult to get to. The rewards, however, are well worth the effort.
  • The crew was top notch. I didn’t know what to expect before I got on board the M/S Expedition. These people were the real deal and very knowledgable. The staff included some serious scientists
  • You don’t need super gear. Some passengers on the ship clearly purcahsed all new gear at REI before the trip. I think if you have clothing for skiing or other winter activities, you’ll be fine for Antarctica. The only thing you need to consider is rain.

I’ll be writing more about Antarctica and South Georgia over the next few months, but suffice it to say I highly recommend it to everyone. It isn’t cheap and it isn’t easy, but it is well worth it.

…and now I’m off to Belize!

  • 21 Comments... What's your take?

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Comments

  1. Cassie says:

    I visited Antarctica in January of 09 and also had great weather. Probably the most amazing trip I’ve taken so far. It’s a great privilege to be able to spend time in such a beautiful place.

  2. pam says:

    I’m so glad you had a good crossing! That does make a difference, no? I get seasick too, something terrible, but there was NO way I was staying home. I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ve shot and what you have to say about your trip. And congrats on making that last continent. :)

  3. bethany says:

    Sounds like an amazing trip Gary! I can’t wait to see more about it. :)

  4. I can’t wait to read more!!!!! I just talked to my friend who was in Antarctica at the same time as you and she said there were days she was in a short sleeve tshirt.

  5. I love that statement, “sometimes, however, if you want to go somewhere amazing, you have to deal with some discomfort.” So true!

  6. CheezyK says:

    Sounds amazing! Very much looking forward to the photos, no matter how many years you spread them out over :) This trip and the Galapagos Islands are my ‘wish list’ trips, as in maybe one day when the cheaper, easier stuff has been seen and done – there’s just so much out there …

    • Gary says:

      They are both amazing places. One thing I really want to do is try to raise awareness of South Georgia Island. It is really a special place and deserves to be on a list with places like the Galapagos.

  7. This sounds so cool! I love those Bizarre, less traveled places!! bet you’ve seen things that can never be seen anywhere else!

  8. Great photos and it was also a very interesting article. Gary, how do you set yourself so quickly from such a dead cold place like Antarctica and now moving to the jungles of Belize?

  9. Mark says:

    Wow…sounds really cool. Can’t wait to see some pics on flickr…

  10. Hey Gary, fantastic read. I’ve started traveling myself in 2010 but have had to work in between. I’ve been to 11 countries and have planned to visit 10 this year with Belize being one of them! Your photos are amazing and it is something I’ve become interested in since I began traveling. Any advice for on approximate sized lenses for a southern Africans adventure including a few game parks. Thx, greatly appreciate it! Oh, and thx for coming to my home province of Newfoundland! I hope you enjoyed your time here!

    • Gary says:

      When it comes to shooting wildlife, I’ve found 200mm isn’t big enough. Certainly not for birds. Bringing a 500mm lens to Antarctica was a great decision on my part.

      The thing is, the big lenses are expensive and bulky. I just got a lens from BorrowLenses.com so I didn’t have to buy something I’d only use occasionally.

      • Thanks a lot Gary. I was debating that and I know my 200mm isn’t going to cut it. I wasn’t expecting a reply but you’ve helped make my decision. Thanks again. Enjoy Belize.

  11. Good to hear you enjoyed it so much! Can’t wait for you to start posting images.

    Did you go swimming?

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About Gary Arndt

My name is Gary Arndt. In March 2007 I set out to travel around the world...
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