Once in a lifetime

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Flag of Antarctica  ,
Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Wildlife

Within our first day of getting to the continent of Antarctica and exploring it both by zodiac (a speed boat built for 10-15people) and by foot, we had managed to see Gentoo and Idele Penguins, Leopard, Waddle and Fur Seals and Minki, Humpback and Killer whales! The penguins were by far the cutest as they waddled along, oblivious to the 100 or so people in yellow coats that were taking photos of them. The younger ones in particular were also very curious and would often walk right up to you to check you out! As far as seals go, the Leopard Seal was my favourite! These things are vicious! They love to hunt the cute little penguins that we had been taking so many photos of! There are also a number of stories of people scuba diving and having a leopard seal offering to share a penguin with them that they have freshly killed! Now it is bad manners in a number of cultures to turn back food, however, I feel that a leopard seal may have particular troubles in understanding why you wouldn't want to chomp into a freshly killed penguin with him! Finally, the most exciting spot of the trip was the pod of Orcas (killer whales), mum, dad and baby, that we saw on the first day! One came right underneath the ship and breached no more that 5m away from where I was standing!

Landscape and a swim

The Antarctic landscape served up views that were unlike anything that I had ever seen before! Upon arriving we sailed along the Lamaire Channel, which was basically a channel with huge snow capped mountains and glaciers poking right up and out of the ocean on either side of the boat. From here it only got better! Our first zodiac visit explored the beauties of Iceberg Alley and we then visited places like Paradise Bay and Deception Island. It didn’t matter where we were, there was always an amazing hike planned that went up to a viewpoint of the most stunning landscapes. For me the most amazing place that we visited was Paradise Bay. After first exploring this breathtaking area by zodiac and then by foot, our tour group decided it was time for a polar plunge in the most dense sea ice infested waters that we had come across during our expedition thus far! Now I had psyched myself up for this over the days leading up to the event, but I don’t think that anyone was quite ready for what was about to occur! For you see, when it came time for me to jump in the water, I stripped right down to my yellow G-String bikini that I had purchased in Rio and paraded around my best assets… After walking to the waters edge and receiving a number of laughs and a whole lot of attention from the 100 or so onlookers, I decided that I could not reach the full potential that the polar plunge had to offer if I was to continue wearing bathers… So naturally I stripped down and jumped in naked! That’s right ladies and gentlemen; I have been skinny dipping in the waters of Antarctica! Now I thought that this might take off, but apparently not… It turns out it was just me who wanted to get their kit off! I like to think that maybe the rest of the guys were a little bit jealous of the whole negative 1 and a cm that I had on display after jumping in. One thing was for sure though; I had no time for modesty or shyness as I scrambled out of the freezing water in search of a towel… Hello ladies!

Illness

For the first 5 days of the tour everything was going swell. Then something so tragic, so terrible, so ghastly happened… I came down with a terrible case of the man flu. A blocked up head, sore throat, runny nose, shivers, you name it, I had it! The girls reading this just wouldn’t understand, but the fellas would feel for me I’m sure. I came down with it just hours after completing the polar plunge, which made me question what if? What if I had have kept my yellow bikini on? Would that have regulated my body temperature so as to not make me sick? Fortunately the camping component of the trip was cancelled just 5 minutes before we went out, as I feel that things were that severe that I was on the brink of pneumonia! I might not have survived an Antarctic night out on the ice, especially considering their idea of camping was simply a sleeping bag with a waterproof cover; no tent included!

The Drake Passage

This passage of water has two names… The Drake Lake and the Drake Shake… We experienced both! Now noone wants to hear about our smooth sailing on the way down to Antarctica, so I figure I may as well skip to the juicy part! Some might say that it resembled carrot juice, chunky in all of its’ glory! After experiencing the dreaded man flu for the previous couple of days, my head had no yet had the chance to clear up. Now this was a bad thing as it put my perception of equilibrium out, and as a result I did not take to kindly to the 5 or so meter swells that we were enduring. Fortunately I only vomited once, however, I did feel like shit for two days and barely ate anything in fear of throwing it right back up again! I would hate to have experienced a force 10 storm that they can quite often get down there.
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Comments

Nina on

Wow! And the penguin photos are so cute, and on ice/snow as you 'expect' to see them, unlike when I saw them in Puntas Arenas (which was very cool too!)

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