7-Jan-2009: Antarctic Expedition
we are again roughing it in South America!
our Antarctic Expedition by moving into the Hotel Albatross on the
the expedition was to begin. This hotel voucher was included in
package. We were in the hotel lobby ten minutes before midday
and eager to make use of all the facilities available to us. We
the free WiFi internet service for all hotel guests as well as the
sauna and the complimentary breakfast. That night, we all went out
Argentine “all you can eat” spit roast dinner with our travelling
was flying home to Australia while Simon was pushing
on alone with his motorbike on New Year’s
On the day
of departure, our luggage was collected in the morning. We had a
in downtown Ushuaia window shopping. At mid afternoon, we met up
our Quark Expedition
the pier. We were transported by coach to where the Clipper
docked. There were 112 passengers altogether on this Classic
We were both very excited about this trip of a lifetime. We did
what to expect other than seeing icebergs, penguins and seals.
we walked up the gangway, we were greeted by the Expedition Staff
by the crew members of the Clipper Adventurer. We were immediately
the main lounge for chocolate chip cookies, sandwiches and drinks.
taken aback by the plush décor around the ship. The main
even had a baby
in our passports to the Reception, we were shown to our cabins by
room attendant. Our cabin was on the lowest level. It
was a very comfortable “stateroom” with ample wardrobes, dressing
bathroom. By this stage, we both realised that this was going to
expedition. The ship was run like a Hotel with a Manager, dining
attendants to pamper us all day long for the next ten days. This
definitely makes the ferry crossing we took across Lake Victoria
to Uganda seem like a paddle in a canoe in terms of comfort and
a bit worried that Kienny might never want to get back into Troopy
in such luxury!
Geoff and Kienny
were like two children exploring the hallways, library, dining
decks and outer decks peering into the windows of the deluxe
we were very satisfied with our lower berth cabin as we figured we
might not be
rocking as much when we cross the dreaded Drakes Passage. It takes
cross the Drakes Passage which is where the Atlantic and Pacific
converge and is reputed to be the roughest sea voyage in the
unpacking and settling into our cabins, all the passengers were
our first meet and greet with the Expedition Leader and his team
had an Ornithologist, Geologist, Marine Biologist, Whale and Seal
Historian, Naturalists and Zodiac Drivers. Our Expedition Leader
Antarctic voyages under his belt in the past 29 years. How
to be in
the company of such an expert team who will be educating and
the next 10 days. We also had to learn a new maritime vocabulary
portside, starboard and bow. When we hear that there are whales at
that meant the location relative to the bow, not to wait till 10
whales. We also had our “abandon ship”
drill so every passenger knew what to do and where to go in the
of having to abandon ship. We later learnt that there is at least
year that runs aground or is trapped by packed ice in the
will be visiting.
hour’s delay due to strong winds, our ship finally departed
through the Beagle Channel towards the open sea called Drakes
escorted a short distance by some sea birds gliding gracefully at
stern. About 5 hours into the voyage, the going started to get
long and for the next two days, the ship was buffeted by strong
metre waves. The ship’s engineer came down to the lower berths to
portholes in case the waves cracked the outer glass layer.
next two days, the majority of passengers did not turn up for
dinner in the dining room as most of us were too seasick to be
the ship’s corridors and to keep our food down. The hotel staff
as they were busy delivering room service to individual cabins.
strategically placed on all the handrails along the corridors and
Our expedition leader said the Drakes crossing rated about average
sure that the rough crossing was close to the highest rating!
By the third
night of the Drakes Crossing, most of us have found our sea legs
able to enjoy our New Year’s eve hat party. We were to show up in
from any material on board the ship except for fire extinguishers
There were some amazingly creative hats. The Clipper lounge was
balloons, streamers, midnight snacks and refreshments. It was
note that many of the passengers on this expedition were mainly in
age group. Then there was a small contingent in the 30 plus age
about 15 passengers in their late teens.
Day was a good day for everyone as we were in calmer waters. We
Argentina and were now in Antarctica! We were about 150 km north
Circle as the ship navigated its way through ice bergs in the
first destination was Vernadsky Research Station, formerly called
Station but the British sold it to the Ukraine for the princely
pound. Today, this station is researching and monitoring climate
hole in the ozone layer. Vernadsky Station was our first Zodiac
landing. We were
also told by the Ukrainian scientists that they had picked up
that caused the Boxing Day Tsunami two years ago. As we were
ship, we saw a leopard seal resting on top of an iceberg.
early dinner, we made another Zodiac landing on Peterman Island.
beautiful place! Our Zodiac navigated through numerous icebergs
spectacular. The beach we landed on was a penguin rookery/nursery.
encountered our first Adelie and Gentoo Penguins close-up. They
perturbed by our presence at all. Whilst we tried to keep a good
the penguins, some of the more inquisitive penguins came up very
we sat. It was a very special experience to be amongst such happy
second day in the Antarctic Peninsula, we were taken for a Zodiac
Iceberg Alley. We weaved in and out of icebergs of different
icebergs were also very colourful. Some had different shades of
some had arches and icicles while some icebergs were bigger than
the distant background, there were very formidable mountains
and massive glaciers that emptied into the sea. Whilst on the
we had a
close encounter with another leopard seal. It was very inquisitive
around and under our Zodiac. The highlight of the encounter was
onto a small iceberg and rested on it for a few minutes. It had a
facial expression and looked very cuddly and adorable.
afternoon, our ship continued on the Lamierre Channel towards
Once again we got into our Zodiacs and bounced over the rough
Useful Island. We hiked up a hill in knee deep snow to see a
This time we saw a third species of penguin called the Chinstrap
also spotted a Weddell seal and another Leopard seal. The scenery
is just amazingly beautiful. We could not stop taking photos.
evening, the Clipper steamed into Paradise Bay and dropped anchor
night. This was a very magical place. It was like a winter
so beautiful. The Bay was surrounded by tall jagged mountains
and blue white glaciers pouring into the sea. We had a delicious
dinner outside on the upper deck with a panoramic view across the
to the glorious
mountain peaks all around us. Who would have thought that the
would be so nice!
third day in Antarctica, we sailed through Anvord Bay and
Enterprise Island. We have been blessed with very good weather;
blue skies in the past three days. We were hoping for good weather
land at Neko Harbour where we would be setting foot on the
itself. This was a historic moment for us, being that Geoff and
travelled to all 7 continents (Europe, Africa, Asia, North
America, Australia and Antarctica). Neko Harbour is another
hiked up to the highest point to get a better view of the ship
icebergs and pack ice as well as several glaciers with large
ready to break
off and fall into the sea. Geoff and Kienny plucked up enough
down the steep soft snow-covered hill on our bottoms. There was a
three teenage kids and they showed us how to do it. No Fear! It
thrill. For those who were very brave, there was an opportunity to
the polar plunge in the freezing waters. There were a good number
challenge, but we were quite content just to look at the pain each
through. What a fantastic outing we all had!
Harbour we continued our voyage in the Gerlache Strait to Foyn
again the scenery just took our breath away. We never dreamed that
would be more beautiful than all the other places we have
At Foyn Harbour, we went out for another
Zodiac Cruise. We cruised amongst amazing iceberg formations. Each
different and very interesting in size, shape and colour. We
out an old
whaling shipwreck that was half submerged in the sea. We wondered
crew survived the icy cold conditions. There were also a couple of
rowboats washed up on high ground of a small island with two crab
sunning themselves close by. They were not the least bit
afternoon excursion, it was time to make our way from the Gerlache
Bransfield Strait and head for Deception Island which is part of
islands that make up the South Shetland Islands.
We got an
early wake-up call as the Clipper Adventurer was making its way
Bellows, a very narrow passage with dramatic volcanic rock
sides of the ship. This narrow passage brought us out into Telefon
first Zodiac excursion of the day. This time, we landed on a
beach. For the first time, we did not have to trudge through soft
a short hike inland up to a big Caldera. Our Geologist was
to show us and teach us more about this volcano which last erupted
was quite eerie standing on the edge of this large crater looking
big hole where the volcano would have erupted violently. We
beach to visit two Weddell Seals and a small colony of Chinstrap
again, we took too many photos.
excursion for the day was a swim in the warm volcanic waters at
another volcanic beach not far from Telefon Bay. The weather was a
this time but there were still quite a few adventurers who went in
dip to earn their second certificate for swimming in Antarctica.
this beach we
also saw the remnants of a Chilean research base which had been
during the last volcanic eruption.
destination for the day was Aitcho Island. It took about 3 to 4
in order to get there. Along the way, we were joined by three
whales. We spent almost an hour whale watching these large mammals
capture their every move on camera. They were accompanied by
porpoising gracefully on the surface of the water.
Island was our final Zodiac landing. This island was full of
and other bird
colonies as well as Elephant seals and Weddell seals. This was the
wildlife stop of the voyage
and everyone returned to the ship very content and smelling like
after our final excursion, the Clipper Adventurer headed out to
ship started to rock side to side once again and many passengers
retreated to the
comfort of their cabins to nurse their sea sickness. The crew
service meals and took good care of us. By the next morning
Drakes Passage had improved and the ship was able to make good
back to Ushuaia.
approached the Beagle Channel, we gathered for a final briefing
expedition leader.He gave us a first
hand account of the MV Explorer that sank in Antarctica on
as he was the Expedition Leader on that final voyage and was the
last person to abandon ship! We were somewhat glad that he left
the end and not at the beginning of our voyage.
So, we are
now back on firm ground at Ushuaia. In total we sailed 2876km over
10 days. We were reluctant to leave the Clipper Adventurer having
wonderful voyage to Antarctica. We met and got to know a lot of
travelled adventurers. We have been
impressed with Quark
Our Expedition Leader and his team of experts were just the best.
77, including 6 chefs on board the Clipper Adventurer were all
professional and always on hand to pamper us to the hilt. The
were all excellent.
We would not hesitate to highly recommend Quark Expeditions to
a voyage to Antarctica. Antarctica is the driest, coldest, highest
continent on earth. Despite this it is the most beautiful place we
visited. It will always have a special
place in our hearts and memory.
Ushuaia we have no other alternative but to take the road North on
We trust that you will enjoy our pictures of Antarctica. The pictures for this
section of our trip can be found by clicking here and here or by
Next arrow button at the bottom of this page.
A map of our trip can be
seen by going to http://dreamers1.com/americas/GoogleMaps/SouthAmerica.html or by selecting the Map button at the
bottom of this page.
The WEB site containing
our travels in Africa, Russia and South America is http://overland.dreamers1.com or by selecting the Contents button
the bottom of this page.
and Kienny Kingsmill