The Seventh Continent

19 Mar

Words and pictures do not do it justice.  The driest, coldest, windiest, most remote, desolate, pristine wilderness on planet Earth is an assault on the senses and strikes joy into the heart of the true adventurer.  

Starting in Buenos Aires, a thirteen-hour plane journey from Heathrow, through Ushuaia and across the Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsular, we ventured even further, 66 degrees south, to cross the Antarctic Circle.

In the spirit of the Continent itself, I was on an ice-breaker ship manned by a Russian and Filipino crew with international specialist guides, surrounded by American, Australian, Canadian, German and a few other British explorers so we were as diverse as those laying claim to territories there.

For 14 days we floated through and marvelled at towering, cracking, creaking, grumbling, calving glaciers, massive, multi-coloured, impossibly-shaped, rolling icebergs hundreds of metres tall and some the size of a small island.  We scanned horizons, spotted, pointed at, cruised around, walked with, ran away from and photographed hundreds if not thousands of seals, penguins, whales, dolphins, albatross, petrels, actual islands, ice, crevasses, mountains and the odd research station.   We learnt all about the new and exciting language of Antarctica which has lodged in my vocabulary forever – frazzil ice, nunutaks and sastrugi are my personal favourites.

I made new friends from across the globe.  I plunged into the freezing waters.  I ate my way around Antarctica – we were fed three, three-course meals every day.  I laughed, I learnt a lot, I felt seasick, I saw a blue whale! I got an Antarctic education.


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