The last time I actually prepared for a trip was for my trip to Iceland. I was vastly overprepared, since I didn’t do any glacier climbing, whale watching or thermal vent diving … I did almost fall into a sinkhole while trying to cross a “dry” river. I don’t think I spent a lot of money – I only have two things from that trip :
- My Arctic explorer backpack, which I still have today
- My reinforced hiking boots, which I still have today and haven’t worn in 5 years.
Here is my paraphrased Antarctica trip itinerary …
Day 1 – Punta Arenas, Chile
We’re starting in Punta Arenas, Chile. This port city is situated at the southern tip of Chile, on the north bank of the Strait of Magellan. Once a Chilean penal colony, Punta Arenas has transformed into a tourist traps and kick off point to Antarctica in recent years. I’ll be wandering the city by day, trying not to freeze … I assume it will be exactly like Aguas Caliente prior to Machu Picchu.
Day 2 – Embarkation Day
The journey over the Drake Passage will take less than four hours, so for those like me, who are short on time – this works perfectly. I assume that the first glimpse of Antarctica comes into view shortly before the aircraft descends towards King George Island, and I will be hoping for clear skies so that I can see the white vastness. Then it will be time to photograph parts of the island then join the ship.
Day 3-6 – Antarctic Peninsula & South Shetland Islands
I think the next couple days should be like the tourist rubric – I can only hope. For all the time and money that’s going into this trip, I really want it to be just like the tourist brochure chatter … “You’ll get a sense that you’ve arrived on a new planet during the start of your Antarctic voyage, as the pristine nature and dramatic environments are like nothing else on earth. From the vessel you can watch whales swim and feed in the nutrient-rich waters and spot penguins porpoising in the water and jumping aboard ice floes. Just as amazing as the wildlife are the soaring snow-covered mountains and glaciers of the Peninsula, which will be your playground for the next four days.
As excitement builds from the ship, your first landing on a remote beach is when you’ll feel that you’ve officially arrived in Antarctica, giving you the opportunity to experience this wilderness up close.
Every Zodiac excursion and landing presents new sights, sounds and smells. Some landings may be as relaxing as sitting on a beach, taking photographs of curious penguins. Other landings may provide exhilarating panoramic views of the Antarctic continent by hiking atop hill. Perhaps you’ll catch a calving glacier crumbling into the sea at Petermann Island, or take a Zodiac cruise in search of Fur and Elephant Seals around Pleneau Island .
Day 7-8 – Crossing the Drake Passage to Ushuaia
A rite of passage for any Antarctic adventurer, the Drake signals the end of your journey . No matter the sea conditions, you will benefit from having developed your sea legs over the course of the previous four days. While the journey home has begun, your wildlife spotting has not. Your Expedition Team will be available on deck and on the ship’s bridge to help you spot the majestic wandering albatross and a number of whale species, such as Minke and Humpback. When you’re not laughing and reminiscing about the previous days, the Expedition Team will conclude their series engaging presentations on subjects such as marine biology, polar history and glaciology.
Day 9 – Disembark in Ushuaia, Argentina
After a final breakfast aboard the ship, say goodbye to your crew and fellow travelers. We’ll transfer you to the airport for your homeward flights.