Stacy in Antarctica

An adventure to the frozen continent

A new adventure to end 2011.

Even though my adventures in Saudi Arabia have come to an end that doesn’t mean that I’m back to the daily grind. Instead, I have been spending the past six weeks planning for my next big adventure, which I hope to be equally as extreme but not quite as lengthy as my last one. As the name states, this time I will be heading to the one place in the world I have always wanted to go, but never thought I’d make, Antarctica.

To begin with, I will give a little bit of a run down on how I am getting there for those who are interested.

Getting to Antarctica is easier than most people think. Contrary to popular opinion, I am not heading down there on some scientific expedition to chart the impact of climate change on penguin nesting habits (but honestly, how cool would that be!). Instead, I am just flying to Argentina and getting onto a boat. Yep, a boat. I’m loathe to call it a cruise ship because I like to think that the trip is a little bit more extreme than your ordinary 14 day Mediterranean cruise. For instance, there won’t be any matinée performances in the ship’s theatre, unless it is a lesson on wildlife identification with one of the ship’s expert guides.

The ship I am talking about is the Akademik Ioffe, run by One Ocean Expeditions. It is a Finnish polar research vessel, which sounds infinitely cooler than cruise ship. While it is definitely more suited to Antarctic expeditions it is smaller, less stable and significantly less fancy than your average cruise liner. To me, it sounds perfect.

I can’t take all of the credit for choosing this particular vessel on my own. I was helped out immensely by Sharon Keating from Polar Cruises, who took my initial request for help and turned it into my perfect trip. Polar Cruises is a travel agent who specialise in polar travel, so of you are also interested in visiting either of the polar regions (north or south) they a great place to start looking.*

Gushing advertisements aside, the trip itself begins in Ushuaia, Argentina, known as the southernmost city in the world. It is also conveniently located directly above the Antarctic Peninsula, the northernmost part of Antarctica. This means that it only takes two days to sail from one point to the other and from what I have heard about the Drake Passage, the less time you are in open seas, the better. As a comparison, it takes around 5 days to sail from New Zealand to the Ross Sea and the trip costs at least three times as much (bigger distances, longer trip, fewer boats etc). The trip itself will last for 13 days, with a good week of adventure opportunities as we coast along the Antarctic Peninsula. Not only will I have the opportunity to see the penguins and other wildlife, I will be participating in an overnight kayaking trip and our guides will be leading hikes and teaching us how to better our photography skills. To say I am excited is a serious understatement.

It seemed like a wasted opportunity not to also see some of South America while I was over there so I am also planning on spending some extra time in Argentina and Brazil on either side of my Antarctica trip. My first stop will be in Buenos Aires, where I can relax and get over my jet lag for a week. I have also planned to travel to the magnificent Iguazu Falls, located on the border between Argentina and Brazil, and then on to Rio de Janeiro to spend my final week enjoying the sun and sand of Ipanema.

Its taken some time to organise the details but now everything is booked and in one week I leave Melbourne for my next great adventure. I welcome everyone who has ever been interested in what it is like to travel to Antarctica to live vicariously through this blog over the next month.

*I am neither associated with, nor paid by this company. I am just very happy with the service I have received thus far.

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