Updated: Jul 11
If Antarctica were music it would be Mozart. Art, and it would be Michelangelo. Literature, and it would be Shakespeare... and yet it is something even greater; the only place on earth that is still as it should be. May we never tame it.
- Andrew Denton
This quote for me summarizes our journey to the final frontier.
The last continent for us. I couldn’t be more grateful to be able to say this at 31. When we started telling colleagues and friends about our trip, we were met with a lot of “Why Antarctica”? “What are you going to do there for 2 weeks”? “Oh but isn’t it just all icy”? I am mildly amused by how people “visualize” the less-frequented places.. maybe it’s ignorance? After all, nothing could be farther from the truth about the Antarctic!
What could be more fascinating, humbling and gratifying than being in the most pristine isolated places in the world? Why have we decided to go there now when we still have countless more accessible countries to experience? Well, I for one have never been enthralled by man-made wonders. Yeah, they are cool but it has always been about the natural phenomenon. From the Japanese Cherry Blossoms to the towering mountains in NZ. I want to feel insignificant in front mother nature, only then can we respect it. I went there to be humbled by the smell of what could possibly be the purest air found anywhere and by the tranquility from being surrounded by nothing but wildlife and big boulders of living breathing ice. I knew this trip was going to change my view about travel and help me unlearn everything I think we know.
A lot of people have said to me they didn't know the continent can be visited. I guess on some level people find it overwhelming to think about traveling to places this remote. These places capture your imagination, make you wonder - but since it is so intimidating, it goes into a "bucketlist" and quickly gets pushed to the back of the list only to never be explored. This blog post is meant to change that.
What we did in the West Antarctic Peninsula
Day 0 - Ushuaia
Day 1 & 2 - at sea, drake passage Day 3 - Arctosky Station Day 4 - Yankee Harbor Day 5 - Antarctica Sound Day 6 - Esperanza station Day 7 - Pendulum Cove Day 8 - Neko Harbour
Day 9 - Chiriguano Bay
Day 11 - Demoy Island
Day 12 - Lemaire Channel and Cuverville Island.
Day 13 - Fournier Bay
Day 14 & 15 - drake passage
Day 16 - head back to Ushuai
Best time to visit
All expeditions run from October through to late March. Each month offers something different - from slightly varying weather conditions, to ice-scapes and of course, wildlife. Once you decide what you want to see, half your work is done.
Most voyages start with a minimum of 10 days.. some are as long as 22 days. Pick the one that works best for you. A and I can't take off from work for more than two weeks at a time, so we went during the December festive season. I would have preferred to do the trip in February. We traveled in mid-December when the weather was at its warmest and the penguins were nesting. We were even lucky enough to see a few chicks. That being said, no matter when you travel to Antarctica, you’re in for an unforgettable adventure.
Flights and Visa
Your flight would depend on where your cruise starts. Ours started in Ushuaia, Argentina. We flew direct with Emirates to Buenos Aires.
Our package with Hurtigruten included an internal transfer from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, so we didn't have to book that. If your cruise line does not offer the internal transfer, you would need to fly from the capital to Ushuaia.
The staff and expedition team are articulate - everyone speaks fluent English. The second language on board was German, followed by Norwegian. Most of the staff on the cruise were Filipino, so we were perfectly at home speaking to them in Tagalog.
Travel and Medical Insurance, Currency
You would need a special travel and medical Insurance to travel to Antarctica. I would recommend World Nomads. Currency on board the ship is NOK (Norwegian NOK) - but all major credit cards are also accepted on the ship.