We broke the journey into three parts: UK to Argentina, Buenos Aires to Ushuaia (the end of the world!) and by sea to Antarctica. We spent six days travelling, so the journey was not a chore. We saw Evita’s grave and all the other sights of Buenos Aires, enjoyed an Argentinian ranch where Jane went horse riding with a Gaucho to round up cattle, and saw hummingbirds! The food was brilliant - the best steak ever. We even went to a football match in Buenos Aires, the crowd were amazing - the stadium was bouncing!
After a short flight to Ushuaia we saw the end of the world with its national park, glaciers and the Beagle Channel. We finished the journey by sea to Antarctica and met other travellers who had gone via Brazil, Chile or Uruguay. South America has so much to offer. The Drake Passage is an experience, with some of the biggest seas we have seen. Albatross patrol the boat constantly, as do petrels. Whales swim near the boat and soon the first iceberg appears.
The Plancius is an ex-Dutch navy research ship; the crew are fantastic and can’t do enough for you. Lectures were provided every day if we weren’t doing activities. Their knowledge is superb and you can tell they are passionate about giving you a fantastic experience. Basecamp Plancius provides a trip with lots of activities including kayaking, camping, snowshoeing and mountaineering. Scuba diving can be added at a supplement.
I had read about explorers of old eating hooch, seals and penguins - but not on Plancius! The food was plentiful and varied - a different theme daily. Cakes and bread were freshly baked and there were always snacks and hot drinks available. We even had a barbecue which was just surreal!
The landings and zodiac cruises were fabulous. The penguins were not bothered by us and the chicks even climbed on our feet when we stood still! Seals are common and we saw Weddell, fur, crabeater and leopard seals - both in and out of the water. We saw orca, fin, minke and humpback whales. The humpbacks were VERY close - and we saw them feeding too - you know when they do the ring of bubbles around the fish? Amazing! It was all amazing!
Taking part in the scuba diving gives a completely different perspective on Antarctica; wearing a drysuit means you can go where other people can’t. The ice is spectacular ranging from small ‘bergy bits’ to giant cathedral-like structures. Diving was not as cold as we had expected - the water was just about freezing. On a couple of dives we swam down the flank of icebergs, they were beautiful and gave us another perspective of their size and beauty. We had the opportunity to dive with isopods (woodlice the size of dinner plates), starfish with over thirty arms and enjoyed close encounters with seals and penguins.
We also visited several historic sites. Our favourite was Port Lockroy where they have no shower and limited electricity - but they do have a credit card machine. Yes, you can shop in Antarctica!
Kayaking is well organised, safe and a breathtaking experience. Penguins porpoised by and a whale spurted in the distance... WOW! In summary everybody should go to Antarctica. Sell your house, do overtime, borrow the money - but GO! We can feel it calling us back.
Images by Michael and Jane Green
Our Classic Antarctica voyage is a perfect introduction to the Antarctic, exploring wildlife sites along the Antarctic Peninsula and in the nearby South Shetland islands, with plenty of activites to explore the unique landscape both above and below the water.. Book today!