I was nervous before leaving for Antarctica.
I wasn’t nervous about the weather, or the seasickness, the cold or even about the vast open seas.
I was nervous that I just wouldn’t get there.
For pretty much all of 2017 I had been working towards the goal of visiting all seven continents in just one year, and with only a month left I was terrified that there would be bad weather, or the ship would be in bad shape, or for whatever reason, my voyage would be cancelled and my dream would not come to fruition.
It was with baited (and excited) breath that I waited for our ship to embark from Ushuaia, and when we finally pulled away from the port, my shoulders dropped, I let out a huge breath of relief and finally allowed the sheer excitement to wash over me.
After we had left Ushuaia in our dust and had a few celebratory champagnes in the process, it was time to settle into life on the ship.
I travelled to Antarctica with my 63 year old father, and we shared a 2 bed porthole cabin. I had expected the cabins to be incredibly cramped, but they ended up being much roomier (and much more comfortable) than I could have ever expected.
In addition to two comfy single beds, a desk, a cupboard and a little television, we also had our own bathroom – which was basic, but had everything one could need, including hot showers that were incredibly consistent.
The first three days on the ship were spent enduring what our captain described as ‘the worst weather he’d had in over 200 voyages’… joy!
The Drake passage did prove brutal, but it was by no means unbearable.
Eventually we got out of the Drake and into the more protected waters of the Antarctic Peninsula. Without all the wild weather (and the 60+ knot winds – not an exaggeration) we could spent more time out on the deck, and it was on the deck that I finally got my very first glimpse of Antarctica.
At first I wasn’t sure if it was anything. I could just make out a faint white line on the horizon, but before long it became more defined, and I knew that the white haze was what I had been waiting for.
Within mere hours, the ship began to pass small but stunning scatterings of ice that were floating away from the peninsula.
Soon, the pieces of ice we were passing became larger and larger, until there was no doubt that we had entered the land of icebergs,
Small icebergs turned into big ones, and big ‘bergs turned into definable landmass that would peek out from a heavy layer of ice and snow, and there was no doubt that we had made it to the 7th continent.
As the ship docked for the very first time, it occurred to me that all that I’d worked for had started to materialise.
I had started 2017 in the North Pole, and I’d be spending the last chunk of 2017 exploring the South.
Antarctica was already more than I’d hoped for – and I hadn’t even gotten off the ship yet!
At the time, I had no idea what adventures were waiting for me, but I was sure that they’d turn out to be pretty magical…
I was not wrong.
Getting to Ushuaia: Ushuaia is well connected to Buenos Aires and El Calafate
Oceanwide Expeditions: An 11 night Basecamp Ortelius voyage starts at around $9650 USD
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 and M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 lenses
Remember: Always have your camera next to you when on the ship, you never know when people will spot whales!