Antarctica is at the very top of my bucket list, so I was incredibly excited to learn that one of my travel blogging colleagues has actually been! Jonny Blair has written about his experience stepping foot on the Antarctic Continent!
Before you visit Antarctica you have an idea of what it might be like. It might be cold there. The landscape is likely to be white. You might see penguins. There’s a high probability that you might see snow. It can get windy. You might even get sea sick. Well forget all that, the only way to find out is to head there for yourself and see what the white continent is really like! So I did.
I worked 12 hours a day, 7 days a week and resigned myself to living in the Tasmanian wilderness for a few months to save for this adventure. I worked hard, I booked it and I headed to Ushuaia in Argentina. I boarded the ship the MS Expedition and we set sail south from Tierra Del Fuego.
Less than 48 hours after leaving South America and there we saw it. Antarctica before our very eyes! Guess what? It was white. It was cold. There were penguins. It was windy. I saw snow. I didn’t get sea sick however (my experience of working on ferries must have influenced that!). But the fact that you can predict what Antarctica might be like does nothing to prepare you for what it really is like. It will blow your mind.
Here’s my overview of our first day in Antarctica, when we nonchalantly landed on the island of Barrientos.
The air was clean, clear and crisp. I was ridiculously over-dressed. They had told me that Antarctica would be cold so I feared the worst. I needn’t have bothered. Two coats and two pairs of trousers and socks was extreme, but I was already dressed for the landing as we anchored off shore. I was even sweating!
To get from our ship to the land, we sailed across on a 10 man “Zodiac”. A rubber dingy with a motor on it. With a clear blue sky above, I stepped foot on Antarctica land, at the rocky beach on Barrientos. We were greeted firstly by penguins and then by a snowstorm. It was just magical.
As I made my first steps into Antarctic snow and veered up a hill, we saw our first leopard seal, lying on the snow by the rocks, quite far inland from the water.
We walked to the top of the hill and over to the other side of the island which had some amazing looking terrain and rock features. Hundreds of penguins walked by like they owned the place…which they do of course! As the blizzard got stronger I found my hood and hat useful on the walk downhill towards another few seals. The cold chilly air was fresh and satisfying on the skin and the constant snow made it a winter wonderland I had longed for. When your travel experiences are this intense, you don’t care if it’s cold or not.
The great thing was you are free to wander around on your own. Although we were part of a group on the ship, you are always within a few hundred metres of your tour buddies, yet can wander anywhere you want. I took time to check out some interesting beaches and got up close to a load more penguins before the time came to get back on board the ship. It was dinner time on board and a toast was raised. Complimentary champagne was handed out and we all celebrated our landing on the continent of Antarctica.
I had lived out my childhood dream and stepped foot on Antarctica and it was every bit as sensational as I had envisaged, and more! This was just the beginning in fact – the real magic was yet to come.
Read more about Jonny Blair and his Antarctica adventures on his one man, seven continents travel blog Don’t Stop Living. There are many cruise companies which offer Antarctic cruises, including Oceanwide Expeditions.