I have stated in a couple of previous posts that on my expedition to Antarctica we were extremely lucky with weather. In my mind this certainly does ring true, and on the whole I do think the weather gods did favour us, but that does not mean that it was always smooth sailing, and there were certainly a couple of days in which the weather was just a big ol’ suck fest – not exactly an eloquent turn of phrase, but I think it gets the point across!
One such day came later on in the voyage. Funnily enough, it was the same day that we sailed through the Lemaire Channel where we had travelled through stunning conditions. However, once we sailed further and out of the protected cove of the channel, a bit of a blizzard set in.
Despite the crapola weather, we were still able to get out in zodiacs and go for a cruise around the bay, but not before parking the ship right next to an absolute whopper of an iceberg!
Sure, the weather may have been downright abysmal, but it was on this outing that we saw some of the largest icebergs of the entire voyage, so it was definitely worth braving the fricking freezing conditions.
I am not normally one to complain about being cold. In fact, usually it is something that I really enjoy. Heck, I visited Greenland in winter when it routinely got down to below -40 degrees celsius! However, the cold in Antarctica is very different to the cold of the Arctic. Somehow, even though the mercury says it is warmer, the high humidity makes the cold feel very… wet? It kind of seeps into your bones, and once you get chilled it is hard to focus on much else.
There were quite a few times on this adventure in which I felt disadvantaged by not having a telefoto lens. However, this outing was not one of them!
For the majority of this zodiac trip I actually used my super wide 7-14mm, and even then I sometimes struggled to fit everything that I wanted in the frame! It certainly may not be the most versatile of lenses, but it absolutely does come in handy.
These ‘bergs were so big in fact, that they were easily obscuring visibility of the ship! From a distance, we had to be at just the right spot to visualise our beloved Ortelius.
This next photograph certainly isn’t the prettiest of all time, but the zodiac on the left side of the frame really does give you and idea of how truly massive these icebergs were.
The wind conditions had already been not so great, but after only a short while they deteriorated even further.
It was at this point that the wetness of my gloves really started to make my hands go from cold, to downright painful. Luckily, it was at this time that we spotted a chunky seal on the ice, and this successfully distracted me from the shooting pains in my fingertips, at least for a short while.
We then spotted a whole bunch of penguins swimming happily alongside us.
I even managed to catch the split second in which this little guy leapt out of the water!
In an effort to try and avoid the wind, we took cover in a small cluster of large icebergs, which provided a surprising amount of protection.
We just had to be careful not to get too close… you never know when one of these bad boys is going to calve off a chunk of ice and send a tsunami-esque wave your way!
Eventually it was time to head back to the ship, if we left it too much longer it was likely that it would become difficult for us to safely transfer from the zodiac back to the vessel.
Once we had gotten back on board, we started moving once again through the peninsula, and it wasn’t too long before we spotted a massive leopard seal chilling out on a sheet of ice.
I had said quite a few times that all I really wanted to see was a leopard seal, so even though we were far away, it was still a fricking exciting experience – something Antarctica certainly provided me with a lot of!
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 7-14mm f/2.8 and M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 lenses
Remember: Bring several sets of waterproof gloves, wet and cold hands will make you a seriously grumpy human