Antarctica!! Yes, you read that right!
Updated: Jul 10
While my life's goal is to visit every country and continent, most people finish with Antarctica. Not me! I was presented with this amazing opportunity that I could not pass up. I follow a woman named Alyssa on social. She is a full-time nomad. (nomad definition - a person who does not stay long in the same place; a wanderer.) She had been telling us the company she went with like 2 years ago was asking her to book a group again. She would not do so unless she was able to get the same amazing price she had the last time. After going back and forth, we got the price!!
Some fun facts:
- All spots were filled within 24 hours
- first round (was originally the only round) had 60 spots
- 180 people said they were interested
- 80 spots now (not sure if that is total or additional)
- prepaying not only got me a discount but also a free room upgrade!
You are probably wondering how you get down to Antarctica. Really, all I need to do is Ushuaia, Argentina. Sounds easy right? Check out the flight options from SFO to Ushuaia. It will be very long travel days. From Ushuaia, we board an expedition ship. People keep asking me if its a cruise ship. Cruise ships hold thousands of people. This boat will sleep about 220. It normally sleeps more, but they had to remove some of the cabins to make room for all the equipment we need once we are at the bottom of the world. Once on the boat, it will take 2 days to get through the Drake Passage. If you are not someone who is easily motion sick, you should look up videos of the Drake Passage. There are some good ones on YouTube. It can be extremely rough or as calm as a lake. You never know which one you will get. Agility is key to this trip as the weather can change in a moments notice. Because of these changes, the schedule often changes too.
Once we arrive in Antarctica, we have 4 days to explore the South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula. Since the guide said it best, I will just quote it, "We explore by Zodiac, cruising amongst the magnificently sculpted icebergs and making shore landings where we mingle with penguins, climb to vantage points to absorb the spectacular panoramic views, maybe visiting a scientific or historic base. Antarctica will enchant you with its incredible scenery, from imposing glaciers to towering snow-capped peaks, vast icebergs, and ice-strewn channels. Not to mention the wildlife – from extensive colonies of chinstrap, Gentoo and Adelie penguins, to crabeater, Weddell, fur and elephant seals and a plethora of fascinating birds. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for the mighty crack of a glacier calving. Maybe you will be one of the brave few to take a polar plunge in the icy waters! Every day brings a new experience and new landing site. As we cruise from one landing site to the next, enjoy the continued lecture program and take in the scenery from the outer decks of the Ocean Endeavour."
After all of that, we spend another 2 days getting back to Ushuaia. Once we disembark, we fly home. Since it will be close to Christmas and such long travel days, its best for me to just head home. Yes, I will be going in December 2021. As a reminder, the weather is opposite in the southern hemisphere than the northern hemisphere. It will still be very cold, but it will also be their summer. Alyssa had a live Q&A with Greg, the owner of the company we are going with. Greg said, while it is cold in Antarctica, CA ski season is colder. This gave me some hope that this Californian will survive.
More fun facts:
- a boat has never sank on the Drake Passage (at least not since boats were not made of wood)
- even if you don't get sea sick normally, there is a strong chance you will while in the Drake Passage
- boots are available to borrow while we are on the ice
- cocktails are not included but wine is (fine with me!)
- cabins have black out shades as the sun doesn't fully set
- bring sunscreen, it will be summertime after all
- bring extra batteries and memory cards as they don't react well to the cold
A few paragraphs up, a polar plunge is mentioned. It makes me shiver just typing that. Alyssa has offered to do a fundraiser for global warming. Anyone who raises at least $100 will get one of her bathing suits. Her swimsuits are made from ECONYL (recycled ocean waste) or REPREVE (recycled plastic bottles). Also, you MUST participate in the polar plunge. I already have many friends who are offering to donate. She is also doing a contest for whoever raises the most so let's step it up all!!
I am going to be very honest with you all right now. I am TERRIFIED of the ocean!!! There are too many things down that that can easily eat me or kill me. Plus, the water in/near Antarctica is almost black. However, I will fund raise to participate in the polar plunge. I watched Alyssa's video from when she did it. That gave me a little bit of comfort. They have people in a boat close by. Also, they tie something to your waist and the second you hit the water, they start pulling you out. I am also allowed to take my GoPro with me on the plunge. I have a waterproof case for it and am looking forward to what the video shows.
That is all the information I have for now. Stay tuned for more to come. Of course, you will want to read all about my excellent adventure and see all the pics and videos I share.
- Wander With Mekela