Antarctica

It’s hard to decide what was the most amazing thing about Antarctica: the incredible variety of whites and blues of the ice and snow, the millions of penguins, the seals and whales, the fact that we were where so few people have been. We loved it all.

We chose a small ship knowing that this would give us a lot more opportunities to step on the ice than a cruise ship with 6,000 or more passengers. The law protecting the pristine environment states that no more than one hundred people can be on any one spot at one time. That means people on large ships must have to take turns going out while we went out twice a day every day.

Another reason for choosing Oceanwide Expeditions as our tour company was that the ship would have four scientists on board from whom we could learn a lot. Each had his or her specialty including one who was an expert on krill (tiny seafood that pretty well all life here relies on) while another knew more about icebergs than we could ever imagine needing to know.

Here are the spots on the ice that we visited
Aitcho Islands
 
Charlotte Bay
 
Deception Island
 
Drake Passage
 
Half Moon Island
 
Lemaire Channel
 
Orne Islands
 
South Shetland Islands

Antarctica

 

 

Animals spotted
Antarctic fur seal Crabeater seal Fin whale
Hourglass dolphins Humpback whale Leopard seal
Minke whale Orca whale Southern Elephant seal
Weddell seal

 

Birds spotted
Adelie penguin Albas Albatross
Chinstrap penguin Fulmars Gentoo penguin
Gulls King penguin Macaroni penguin
Petrels Prions Shags
Skuas Terns

 

Our two-week cruise to the White Continent was everything we had hoped for and much more. Good weather permitted us more landings than the average cruise is able to do and we made some good friends on board with whom we whiled away travel time.

As amazing as all the wildlife was, the ice itself also presented an awesome show in a myriad of colors that you wouldn´t normally associate with ice and snow: turquoise, aqua, greens, blues and black. We saw enormous icebergs bigger than our ship as well as ice shelves calving (when large chunks detach and fall into the sea) causing a sight and sound show that has no equal in the world.

We took 1,500 photos in six days on the ice while friends of ours who had two cameras took 2,500 photos. A very small sampling is included here for your pleasure.

Interesting Facts:
You can travel to Antarctica only during its summer months (December, January & February) as this is the only time of year that ships can get through the ice.
The continent shrinks to half its size every summer and refreezes to twice its summer size every winter.
What makes Antarctica a continent (and the Arctic not) is that there is land buried under all of that snow. The Arctic is water surrounding land while Antarctica is land surrounded by water.
It is 5.4 million square miles/14 million square kilometers big
Antarctica is Greek for ‘the opposite of north’

More Info:
Wikipedia
Discovering Antarctica
National Geographic

Travel there:
Oceanwide Expeditions

On-Line Travel Guides:
Frommer’s
Lonely Planet
Wikitravel