Discussion created by californian on Feb 11, 2013
Latest reply on Jan 3, 2014 by californian

Antarctica exceeded my expectations.  It is so beautiful and abundant with animals.  The interesting thing is that the animals are not afraid of us.  I have been to Alaska, The Canadian Rockies and Scandinavia and to me, this exceeds all of them.


It is not for everyone which is why tourism is only at about 40,000 per year.  That number is growing.  To get there, one must sail over the Drake Passage which is the roughest body of water in the world.  My sailings were rough in each direction but it can be smooth or even rougher.  It takes from 1 ½ to 2 ½ days of travel in each direction.  Many got seasick.  I did not.  I chose a ship with the best stabilizers to help.


I was on an expedition which means that they are looking for wildlife and live in the now.  When they see whales, they stop the ship as opposed to trying to maintain a schedule. We were given a tentative schedule each evening for the next day and all over it said weather permitting.  In the 5 days that I was in Antarctica, we made 9 landings, 2 Zodiac rides and 1 landing on a huge piece of floating ice.  We were taken in Zodiacs to the land and had to get out in water and walk the last few feet.  We needed to have boots to do this.


The evening before we arrived, the captain told us that he would wake us for whales and he did the following morning at 4am.  I did not get up to see them and got another at 6am for killer whales.  That got me up and had to get dressed and I did see them.  To me this was exciting.  We saw killer whales 4 times which is exceptional.  I was delighted.


Our first landing was coming soon.  The weather was sunny and not too cold and there were a whole lot of penguins.  We were told to stay around 15 feet from then unless they come to us.  To get them to come to you, you need to sit down or lay down and they will do that.  I didn’t do that so they came close but not up to me.  There were penguins at all the landings.  After a while, I concentrated on watching the behavior.  They had chicks and some still had eggs that when hatched would not make it because it was too late in the season.


While on the Zodiac, we saw humpback whales and ice formations.  The icebergs were really beautiful.  One could make an art collection of
them.  They had a bluish white color.


At this, I will post some pictures and will answer questions.