I have so many I want to share so I do think I’ll need to split this up into at least two posts, if not maybe three! I just want to share ALL the pics!
March 13, 2019:
In this post, I cut off when we flew to Ushuaia, the southern-most tip of Argentina. It was here that we would board our boat, the Russian research vessel, Akademik Sergey Vavilov, i.e. “the Vavilov.”
Our original itinerary had us spending a full day exploring Ushuaia, but due to our flight being grounded (due to the 737 plane situation), we didn’t get to Ushuaia until after 7pm and went straight from the airport to the ship. We just waved to Ushuaia from the bus as we drove through it.
There’s a local dog that “helps” with the rope to untie the ship from the dock. Just an honest days’ work for this little fella! I die…
March 14, 2019:
Our first day on the Drake Passage; it takes over two days to cross the Drake Passage. (If you’ve read “Where’d you go, Bernadette,” you probably are familiar with the Drake Passage! And if you liked that book, you’ll be excited to hear it is coming out as a movie with Cate Blanchette and Kristin Wiig!)
We had a lot scheduled to do on the boat, so it wasn’t as much lounging as I would have expected; we had to get fitted for our GILL/dry suits, learn about safety on the zodiacs, take an introduction to sea kayaking/safety seminar, and more! Time actually went by pretty quickly both days.
March 15, 2019:
The seas were pretty rough this day; I still attempted to run on the gym treadmill, but it was a bit of a disaster.
Most of the scheduled events were focused on the history of exploration of Antarctica, and then the history of the actual Antarctica Marathon. Marathon Tours has encountered so many challenges to keep this race going, it made me realize that it was really a privilege to be a part of it for its 20th year!
There was a bit of a ‘bet’ going on as to when we would see our first iceberg. It was on this day that we started to see a lot more birds, like the giant petrel, the stormy petrel, and the HUGE albatross!
Of course, we took pics of them all:
Eventually we saw our first iceberg..though, let’s be honest, it was a bit disappointing, but it meant we were getting closer to the continent!
*A lot of time was spent in the Vavilov bar, either reading with coffee or at happy hour before dinner! Some of the presentations were held here, some were held in the dining room, and some in the presentation room.
March 16, 2019:
We spent the morning labeling and decorating our bottles and dry bags for the race. Then we did our first zodiac excursion and took our first steps ON ANTARCTICA!
Those steps were on St. George Island, the location of the marathon the next day, and the 1% of the continent NOT covered in snow/ice.
I had my first penguin encounter!
We were at Bellingshausen, the Russian research base on Antarctica.
Bellingshausen had a small gift shop where you could purchase a postcard to be mailed from Antarctica. (It could take up to a year to arrive!)
They also had their own church, the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church. It was brought over from Russia in pieces on the same ship we were sailing on! They also have a priest who lives on the base to hold mass.
After the time on Bellingshausen, we cruised around in the zodiacs checking out some penguin colonies.
It was the first time I saw the penguins “porpoising” too, or popping out of the water as they swam along, like a dolphin. It was so cute! Who knew? We’d see a ton more of it later in the trip, but I had no idea at the time how many we’d see. 🙂
March 17, 2019:
A St. Patrick’s Day I’ll never forget, the Antarctica Marathon! You can read all about that day HERE.
March 18, 2019:
Though the marathon was the primary purpose of the trip, the rest of the days in Antarctica were by far the highlight.
Antarctica is such an amazingly breathtaking and beautiful place. My pictures don’t even capture the SCALE of how big everything is…and how small and insignificant we are. 🙂
One of my shipmates created this awesome highlight video on youtube, and at the end, there is a quote from one of the guides that at some point during the trip, he hoped you felt ‘small.’ It makes sense when you hear it. The video is worth a watch:
Each day would include a morning excursion and an afternoon excursion; hikes, zodiac cruises, whale watching, seal sighting, penguin colonies, sea kayaking, iceberg viewing, etc.
This was one of the nicest days weather-wise (of course, that was the day the second boat was doing their marathon, ha!). We had clear blue skies, sun, and temperatures in the 30’s. It was such a great start to our days of exploring the 7th continent (other than the 26.2 miles we explored the day before!)
While we were in Mikkelsen Harbor, some of the ice around us would “calf” off, or fall into the water, which was SO loud like an explosion. And the waves caused by the ice could be quite dangerous, particularly if you’re in a little zodiac or a sea kayak. You have to be really careful not to get too close or you would be part of an ice tidal wave!
You can kind of see it calving in the below picture:
Our time on D’Hainaut Island included a lot of penguin watching. Prior to the trip, I had no idea just how entertaining they were. I loved them.
We mostly saw Gentoo penguins and Chinstrap penguins on our trip, “Chinnies” as the guides called them. These pictures below are Gentoo:
The penguin below was molting, during which he wasn’t able to swim to go find food. You can tell how much skinnier he was than the others. (Most of the others were done molting for the season.)
Enough penguins? How about some fur seals!
There were also “Weddell” seals on this excursion, which, let’s be honest, can easily be confused with “Wedel,” my maiden name, so they were known as “Wedel” seals to me! (Just like I would call the zodiac a zamboni, which drove Dustin crazy. :))
There was also a deserted whaling boat from many, many years ago on the island:
That’s the end of our first day of excursions. Stay tuned for more!