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Antarctica
February 12th 2008
Published: February 12th 2008
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12,000 people...this is the number of tourists who visited Antartica in 2000....35,000...that's the figures for
this 2007-2008 season...and I'm one of the few lucky ones. And number of people who went for a little dip of
snorkeling...on the Luybov Orlova...I'm the first for the last 6 years that the expedition leader remember!

Twelve months ago, I was saying, Antartica, it's a trip that I'll take one day. But it's so bloody expensive! I
was thinking at the time, this trip, is something you do for a wedding anniversary...because paying it for two,
is more than a fortune.

Guess what, it was 12 months ago, and today, I write this from the middle of the Drake Passage, on my way to
Antartica...because one of the joy of being single, is that you pay only for one, and what was
outrageously expensive, went on a 50% discount just by the fact that I'm single...so let's enjoy!

I'm not sure how to enter this new entry. So I've decided to write every day instead of waiting the end of the
trip.

So we are now nearly 20 hours in our trip. Few things to already write on. My fellow travellers...a quite
international crowd, mainly spread between South Africans, British and Americans. The cruise is full with 110
passengers, but the boat doesn't seem crowded for the moment...you'll know why very soon. There may be only
10 of us below 40 years old, with the average age between 55 and 65...this has for sure to do with the cost
of the trip. I still can't figure out why some people are here, maybe 10 people with quite limited mobility,
I'll make sure we don't share the same tender too often!

We were supposed to leave port last night at 6pm...but left only right after midnight. This was due to strong
winds which mean the port authorities had to close the port.

The boat is not about luxuries, but still it is very confortable...after a diner, breakfast and lunch I can
also say that the food is not luxurious, but it is very well executed, so I won't be starving this week.

So left at midnight, leaving the Beagle Channel around 5am to enter the Drake Passage. The crossing to the
Antartica Peninsula should take around 36 hours. We are now in the 9th hours, just after lunch. Already,
fewer than 40% of passengers did show up for lunch, you can see the white faces all around! This is after all
considered as the roughest passage on earth!

I decided not to use the scopolamine patch, and to go very very light on the pills to avoid side effects. So far
so good, quite a nice choice as I feel great....even with the 5 meters dwells.

Can't wait to see our first icebergs. But for this I'll have to wait tomorrow. For the moment, you can only see
the sea and a lot of birds. So I spend my time eating, reading, sharing past travel experiences with fellow
travellers, and going to very interesting lectures. Not much else to write about today. Will come back
tomorrow with more. Ushuaia is rouglhy 1000km from the Antartica Peninsula, so have time to kill around, also
enjoying the bridge and specially the view from there. See you tomorrow...

We are now just after lunch time on the 5th Feb. Had access to a brief review of international news, very glad that
nothing special did happen the last 24 hours.

The life on the boat is mainly center around lectures and meals. We should get to our first stop by tonight...first
stop will be the South Shetland Islands. So for the moment, I'm learning a lot about Antartica, history, the birds...
and obviously the penguins.

Most guests are now back to meals...even if this means a lot of them have still a very white and exhausted face. I
haven't take any pill for the last 24 hours, and glad of the results!

Yesterday was full of birds, with a lots of Albatros, amazing sight...today, nothing...there is strictly nothing
around us, not a single boat...there has been some sighting of our first whales this morning, but too far away
to enjoy. Not very important, as this is the prime whale season and they should be down there waiting for us. I'm
also still waiting for our fitst iceberg. As we have gone through what is called the convergence line, and the water is
much colder, it could happen sometimes...soon...

So one more afternoon and evening to wait. Tomorrow should be a much more interesting entry...it's only helping
building the great views that are awaiting us by tomorrow morning...can't wait! See you tomorrow!


We are now on the 6th of February, nearly 4pm. And I'm in Antartica...the Luybov Orlova has made a safe crossing
of the Drake Passage, with many passengers really down...and me a happy bunny! Yesterday we had another sighting
of whales, but too far to really enjoy. After diner it was time for sighting our first seal and our first iceberg
far away.

But this is it, this morning, we woke up on the South Shetland Islands. The first landing was this morning from
7.30am to 11am. So if you are wondering, yes from now on, it's early wake up every morning. Our first landing
was on Aitcho Island. It is said to be the greenest point of all Antartica...green because of the moss as not
much else is growing up here. On the program, gentoo penguins, chinstrap penguins, Weddel seals, Elephant seals,
furs seals. Sadly we didn't see any male elephant seal, they are the one with the big nose and weigh up to 5000kg!

The sighting was amazing. I know why now I can say I'm part of the lucky few. The animals, the views, the first
close up view of a massive iceberg. Yes I'm really fortunate to be here and enjoy all of this. It's never to late
to be a kid to enjoy the wonders of the world!

After lunch, we made our way to Deception Island, an active volcano...if you know Santorini, it's the same, except
there is a small passage for entry....and it's way colder. It's not actually that cold, you speak of roughly -2 degres.
But the wind is blowing, and this south wind is really...really cold!

I will come back later on after diner with details of Deception Islands. This morning, in Aitcho Island, I shoot
already nearly a 100 pictures...all this to be reduced to avoid to overwhelm everybody with pictures of ice,
seals and penguins. But for Deception Island, this is mainly a volcanic island, so no food, means also no wildlife!

6th Feb...after diner...with a nice gin tonic! This afternoon was the landing at Deception Island. No animals,
pure volcanic environment...and snow. This morning was sunny, this afternoon, snowing...this is Antartica. A little
climb to start, than I made my way back to the boat to get changed.

On deception Island, people are crazy, and go for a swim...well, I went for snorkeling...a little further, and little
longer...thanks to my new 7mm wet-suit...nearly dry suit! What an experience...even funnier to see the russian
sailors around looking at me...seems to be a first for them. If you want to know, the water is cold, around 2 degrees!
So perfect with the wet-suit...as long as you keep your hands out of the water...and I did, but not all the time!

Tomorrow will be an early wake up at 5.30 am, follow by our first landing on the Antartica Peninsula...terra firma
antartica...as I tend to say...another day in paradise...even under the snow and the sun! Good night!


Today is 7th February, Happy New Year and welcome to the year of the Rat...
Today was also another great day in Antartica. With 3 landings on the program. We started with an early wake up
call at 5.30am to hit Cuverville Island. We have finally made it to the seas of Icebergs. It is simply stunning.
Half of the landings are spent onshore, the other half on zodiac cruises going around icebergs.

On the wildlife side, we've seen thousands of gentoo penguins. The funniest are their little chicks, most of them
around 2-3 months old. Some of them already nearly as big as their parents...but true little playful teenagers!

We did also encounter few seals...fur seals and Weddel seals. And at the end of the day...a Humpback Whale...my first
close encounter with a whale, but this one was pretty shy.

So morning and great sun around...the lights are simply impressive. But the most stunning thing is the blue inside
the ice...either on the icebergs or on the glaciers. This blue is just so intense. The more intense it is, the
older the ice is...and the most mersmerizing it becomes!

After breakfast, we made our second landing at Danco Island...ready for a little hike on top of the island, and another
amazing sight from the top. I know, it's wonders all the time, and all around!

After lunch we made it to Neko Harbour. This is actually the first time we are hitting the Antartica continent
per se! And the occasion for me for my second bath...I really wanted this picture of me lying next to an iceberg...
even a small one. You should see the face of other passengers, as before my second little dip of this trip, I went
around Necko Harbour in my wet suit and booties...and yes I'm a little mad!

After that, with very very cold feet, we went on a small cruise to meet our first Whale. Sad
she was a little to shy to my taste...but let's see what's tomorrow going to bring us.


Good Day...we are today the 8th of February. Last night was barbecue night, on the 6 deck...outside deck under
the snow...great barbecue...and very early sleep!

This morning was a very interesting landing at Port Lockroy and Jougla Point. Port Lockroy is a former british
science base. It is today a museum...and a british post office, and yes I did send my postcards from Antartica!
The place was a little too crowded bewteen the gentoo penguins and the passangers, but nevertheless an interseting
landing, with few more seals. And also, some adventurers down here on their sailing boat...why not...that must
be an amazing thing to do!

After lunch, we went through the Lemaire Channel...few more sightings of leopard seals sun-bathing on the ice. It
is now 3pm, and we are awaiting our landing at Petermann Island.

If you are wondering why do we stop all the time on Islands and not much on the antartic continent...the answer is
quite simple, the continent coast is full of rock cliffs and glaciers, not the easier place to land a zodiac...but
the penguins also share the same feelings!

Tonight, it's cruise time again after diner....and a small landing at the Yalour Islands. Tomorrow should be
another amazing day!


Welcome to the 9th of feb, 11.00am. The landing last night at Yalour Islands was another opportunity to get a closer
look at Adelfi penguins. Another short night as this morning we lent for our first stop at Almirante Harbour. This
is a base run by the argentinian. Few of there men were working around the place on the buildings. The hike on the
snow was fun, the sledge down the slope even better. Why to you climb rock...to have a better look around, and to
see more whales, this morning it was a Minke Whale, smaller, so not much success for the pictures.

Next stop is a small cruise on zodiac before lunch..bringing us around Paradise Harbour and the magnificient
Petzval Glacier. This is our last day in Antartica...tomorrow we start ur journey back to Ushuaia through the
Drake Passage. But let not speak about that yet, and let enjoy this wonderful day. You may ask for the weather,
well, we've be very fortunate, a little bit of snow and wind, but it's mainly sunny most of the time...couldn't
ask for more.

See you on my next computer visit...later today or tomorrow while in the Drake Passage...


February 9th, 7.30pm. This is it...we are leaving Antartica tonight! These have been four wonderful days of
discovery, full of images I will never forget. This continent...or let say the small part of it I've visited
is so serene, so calm, so white...so amazing!

This morning, we did a little cruise aboard the zodiac to see the Petzval Glacier. The opportunity to see some grass,
which is actually one of the only two plants that can flower in Antartica. We also had a short sighting with a
Minke Whale...and a fun encounter with a leopard seal...sleeping and snoring like he was really enjoying his nap
on a little iceberg.

Than we made our way to the Melchior Islands, sailing by the Dallman Bay. This was another opportunity of great
scenery...and spotting a lot of minke whales and humpback whales on the way...but sorry, not that easy to get
great pictures from the Orlova...another great souvenir!

Last but not least, we finished our Antartica trip by a cruise in the Melchior Islands. A small group of islets
where we met our last chinstrap penguins, as well as many fur seals! What a day, all this under an amazing sun.
The weather has really been great with us the last four days.

The Drake Passage is right in front of us...were are going back on our way to Ushuaia during diner. We should be
hitting the Beagle Channel around diner time on the 11th Feb, and than leaving the boat early the twelve for my
flights to Buenos Aires and Iguacu.

This trip has really start amazingly...but the best thing, it's that it way from being over, as I've got more
than 20 days to go on the road...and on the sea!

This is it for today...I will not take pills for the Drake right now, but will write few more lines probably the
evening of the 11th. I just hope you enjoy the picutres...I did enjoy every single minutes of this trip. Have
fun, because I do!

Antartica is behind me, and I'm writting this on the plane from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires. Argentina is a big country...
and even with only a short stop in Buenos Aires, I won't reach my next destination before the end of this afternoon.
For this, and more adventures, wait my next entry in 2 days!

The Drake Passage has been nice and smooth with us. Yesterday was the Captain's diner. The opportunity to share
a last meal with my new friends, mainly from South Africa.

Will I come back to Antartica? The answer is yes, next trip will be on an ice-breaker to visit the Ross Sea...but
this won't be next year, as I've got already other amazing plans.

Antartica is not only about ice, snow and penguins, it's a lot more. You'll discovered some of it through the
pictures, but these will never give the true dimension of the place. The smell, the colors, the silence...it
can change you a man...let's say that it bring me a lot of serenity.

And if you are wondering, this is only the first stop of a great month of February. It's difficult to think that
in only a few days, I will be discovering another amazing part of the world. I do realize that I'm very fortunate
and a little crazy. I know where I come from but don't specially know what the next few years will be made of. But
today, I'm one of the few who can say I've seen the 7 continents...is it an end or a beginning...time will tell.

Till than, enjoy life, travel, live!


These pictures are only a very small selection, I'm also still waiting to process few rolls of films which will
be added later on.


Additional photos below
Photos: 58, Displayed: 32


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13th February 2008

Cold!
Oh my gawd!!! You actually submerged yourself into freezing water! That's definitely one thing I will never do. Good for you! That was brave of you!
8th June 2008

Aitcho Island looks very green!
It was covered in snow when we visited in December. We were on the Orlova too, sounds like you had an equally great trip. The snorkelling look great.
30th May 2009

amazing!
this is the most extraordinary travel blog i've read. i enjoyed looking at the pictures and i thing more, i just love the penguins. Great blog!!!
17th April 2011

very impressive - well done ;-) must have been so cold in the water haha
21st May 2011

Crazy friends!
The closest I have ever been to Antartica was sailing on one of the legs of the BAAE and my skipper and a couple of other lads are even crazier than you! Swimming in just their swimming costumes!!!!!! Hopefully the link will work: http://www.baae.org.uk/army_expedition/photo_gallery/photo_gallery/December/image687.htm
21st May 2011

Inspirational!
I have to say that your blog was pretty inspirational! It has made me really want to go all the more! Actually my daughter seems to be even more eager! It was when I realised that, without even doing it on purpose, it just happened, she has been to 6 of the 7 continents by the age of 5! Now she is 6 and desperate to see the wildlife in Antartica. Do you have any tips or advice in the best way of getting out there, the only people I have looked at is Gap travels. I look forward to hearing your advice! I hope you enjoyed Iguazu Falls, they are incredible! (have I imagined you were going there, I just reread the blog and couldn't see that anywhere, the insanity has set in!!!!) Hope you enjoyed the rest of the trip!!!
22nd May 2011

Not sure about aminimum age.
Ibelieve there may be a minimum age with most serious operators, something like 10 or 12. I went with Quark and was very happy with them.
30th June 2012
little hike....

Awesome picture...
If the pic looks so good.... I can't imagine how good you must be feeling over there...

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