"What do you want to go there for!?" was all I heard ever time I told anyone where I was going... Replies along the lines of "It will be sunny for nearly 24 hours a day!" didn't really seem to cut much ice, if you'll pardon the pun! So where did I go? For me, there was only one feasible option really. You can't fly there, you have to go by ship, and the shortest crossing is from Argentina, see the map below:
Its still quite a trek, approximately 1,000km, and the ships are built to withstand ice and rough seas, rather than set any records! I went in November - December 2000. We visited parts of the South Shetland Islands and the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula, which you can see on the above map. So what do you do when you get there? Well there are no pubs, no shops, and sun-bathing isn't really recommended! There is plenty of scenery and wildlife to look at though, and activities to do of varying degree - enthusiasm permitting.. Its obviously not too warm - I reckon that most of the time, the temperature was in the 0-5ºC range during the daytime. Enough said, most important things first - here's the floating hotel!
and here are some photos of what I saw, starting with a panorama on Aitcho Island, which is part of the South Shetland Islands:
and now to Orne Harbour which is on the Antarctic mainland:
Before I go to far, I thought I better put a photo of myself in here - to prove I was there!
It wasn't that cold, honest! The next two shots are of the most scenic place we visited in my opinion, whic was Neko harbour. It is also, obviously really, the furthest south I have ever been at 64º 51' S.
The last place we visited that you can really say is part of Antarctica was Deception Island. During the early part of the last century the British and Norwegians based themselves here to catch whales... They didn't clear up when they left, and the island consequently has a great deal of history in terms of what they left behind. One such example is a fishing boat:
You can just make out their oil storage vessels in the background. That was it for Antarctica, and couple of days later we rounded Cape Horn (below), it didn't seem that dangerous, however (in a diesel powered ship)!
So then it was back into Argentina. These two photos were taken in the Tierra del Fuego National Park. The sign gives an indication of how far we were away from anywhere else!
I guess I couldn't leave it without a few shots of the penguins! The first one is a chinstrap penguin, the second a gentoo penguin.
You don't need to worry too much about your creature comforts - those ships are pretty will kitted out! The trip was arranged through Dragoman in the UK and run by Peregrine in Australia. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to know any more.
This site was last updated 21 January 2001.