- The world’s driest, coldest, windiest and highest continent.
- It is the fifth largest continent.
- Recent satellite imaging has established that 99.6% of the continent is covered in ice; this represents 90% of the world’s ice and 70% of the world’s fresh water.
- It is the last vast wilderness and the most isolated continent on the planet.
- The Antarctic Circle is an imaginary line parallel to the equator.
So, why a trip to Antarctica? Well… where else would one travel to experience gigantic icebergs, ice-covered mountain ranges and colonies of penguins? We can, so we did. Actually, beyond the penguin rookeries, we participated in kayaking, snowshoeing, hiking, and taking photography classes. Yup, we had to learn how to take great pictures in the sun-filled (or cloudy), snow covered landscape thanks to our photography guide, Laurent Dick from Alaska.
Traveling to Antarctica involved an overnight flight to Buenos Aires. There we changed to the domestic airport and airline for a 3-1/2 hour flight to the tip of South America (Ushuaia) to spend 4 days walking the town, visiting museums, and hiking/canoeing Tierra del Fuego, a National Park between Argentina and Chile.
Once onboard the Plancius, we had a 2-day voyage across Drake Passage, named for the English navigator, Sir Francis Drake. This particular body of water usually displays the roughest seas in the world and we can attest to that fact. There is no significant land anywhere around the world at the latitudes of the Drake Passage to slow the gale-forced winds or impede the currents that carry a huge volume of water through the Passage and around Antarctica. We soon discovered why our beds had padded headboard/footboard and extended railings around the sides, and why there were barf bags every couple of feet on all railings around the ship.
Even though Antarctica is considered cold, dry and windy, we traveled during the Southern Hemisphere summer – Austral Summer. But we found that the weather changes frequently, almost instantly. We had cold, windy, wet, not as cold, not as windy and not as wet. It was the winter the northeast portion of the United States did not have this past year. The cloud formations were spectacular. Low temperatures and humidity and the abundant mountains create unique conditions for cloud formations that greatly differ from those encountered in other regions, including the Arctic. We enjoyed the opportunities of taking pictures of the sky early morning and late afternoons.
We put together this brief video highlighting our adventure. Enjoy!