Monday Travel Update – Back From Antarctica Edition

Posted: January 30, 2012    Categories: Antarctica

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!

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