We took a ten-day cruise down to Antarctica and I can honestly say it was like nothing I have experienced in my lifetime. I can only hope that at some other point in life I can appreciate the immensity and grandeur of nature in such an unadulterated form. From Ushuaia it takes two days to arrive and two to return. The ocean crossing called Drake's Passage is at the confluence of the Southern, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans. At times these seas can be some of the roughest known to man but on our trek, we seemed to enjoy extraordinary luck. The sea crossing marked just the beginning of our good fortune. While at the Antarctic Peninsula, we encountered an unusual amount of wildlife including dolphins, minke whales, humpback whales, lots of seals and of course penguins!
Life on the boat consisted of great food, a dedicated ship staff, and the company of some great friends we met along the way. Life off the boat consisted of two excursions per day where we cruised around in small zodiacs looking for wildlife and interesting landmarks, or making landfall to explore the terrain and spend some time with penguins. There even was enough time and peer pressure for a "polar plunge" where we jumped into the icy waters of the Southern Ocean.
What I will never forget and can scarcely convey is the scale of the landscape. The sheer size of the vistas, glaciers, and wildlife was unbelievable. While a harsh and unforgiving landscape for life, it was lush for the eye and the spirit. Even the average mountains dwarfed anything from home and the icebergs made our large ship look like a pool toy. It felt closer to being on the moon than of this earth. I will never forget our experiences there whether it was the time spent with our new-found friends on the boat, the astonishing landscapes, or the friendly and intimate visit from a curious humpback whale. I have gained a new appreciation of nature and all the wonder it can provide. // Jeff