Antarctica: Cold Feat
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Antarctica: Cold Feat

How often have you seen postcards or photos of some fabulous travel destination only to be disappointed when you finally see it in real life? And if that destination is also marketed as a legendary last frontier, expectations will naturally be high.

So I try to keep my excitement in check as I board an ice-rated vessel at Ushuaia, the southernmost city in Argentina, for my 18-day trip to the Falklands, South Georgia Island and Antarctica.

After all, I’m heading for a massive wildlife wilderness twice the size of Australia that looms large in the history of heroic deeds by men such as Scott, Shackleton and Mawson. I’m sailing with 80 fellow passengers from 20 different countries, a Russian crew and expert international staff on what the expedition brochure promises to be ‘18 eye-popping days of exploration’.

Having landed in the Falklands on zodiacs, we walk through fields to a promontory where hundreds of comical rockhopper penguins and several thousand black-browed albatrosses are nesting side by side in tall tussock grass on a cliff edge. The incredibly photogenic penguin and albatross chicks have the camera shutters working hard all around me.

During other landings we see thousands of gentoo penguins and chicks as well as king and Magellanic penguins and fur seals.    In Port Stanley, the capital of the Falklands, we find friendly locals keen to welcome us to their remote outpost. This colourful town of 3000 residents boasts a government house and cathedral. Perhaps more interesting than both are an arch made from the jaw bones of blue whales and the excellent, quirky Falkland Islands Museum.

While at sea on our way to South Georgia Island we attend engaging lectures by staff members, including an historian, naturalist, geologist, photographer and bird expert. By the time we reach South Georgia, I know exactly what wildlife I can expect to see.

But I still get a surprise when we land on South Georgia’s Salisbury Plain. “Being so close to wildlife that has no fear of humans is a spiritual experience”, a friend who’d been here told me. I thought he was exaggerating, but standing among 200,000 king penguins and their chicks, as well as elephant and fur seals, is deeply moving.

Later we land at gorgeous Gold Harbour, where the backdrop is a stunning glacier. Here king penguins and massive young elephant seals share the beach. Before leaving South Georgia we cruise between the imposing, glacier covered cliffs of the spectacular Drygalski Gorge. ...

As we head towards the South Orkney Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula we see our first icebergs. These massive chunks of ice, some of which are the height of ten storey buildings and over a kilometre wide, herald our arrival in the Antarctic region. ...


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Attached Files

Antarctica-Cold-feet.rtf
Antarctica-Cold-feet.rtf
A-black-browed-albatross-and-chick-in-the-Falkland-Islands.jpg
A-black-browed-albatross-and-chick-in-the-Falkland-Islands.jpg
A-baby-fur-seal-on-South-Georgia-Island.jpg
A-baby-fur-seal-on-South-Georgia-Island.jpg
A-039penguin-highway039-on-the-Antarctic-Peninsula.jpg
A-039penguin-highway039-on-the-Antarctic-Peninsula.jpg
Thousands-of-king-penguins-and-chicks-on-South-Georgia-Island.jpg
Thousands-of-king-penguins-and-chicks-on-South-Georgia-Island.jpg
Seals-chilling-out-at-Cierva-Cove-Antarctica.jpg
Seals-chilling-out-at-Cierva-Cove-Antarctica.jpg
Massive-icebergs-appear-on-the-way-to-the-Antarctic-Peninsula.jpg
Massive-icebergs-appear-on-the-way-to-the-Antarctic-Peninsula.jpg
King-penguins-feature-striking-colours.jpg
King-penguins-feature-striking-colours.jpg
Gorgeous-Gold-Harbour-on-South-Georgia-Island.jpg
Gorgeous-Gold-Harbour-on-South-Georgia-Island.jpg