Before the world closed down due to COVID-19, I have been fortunate to travel the end of the world, from Ushuaia to the Antarctica Peninsula, South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands. It may sound crazy, but if indeed the world is about to end, a journey to the legendary final frontier has been the best decision in my life. As of writing, I am under home quarantine doing my part in fighting the virus despite having just been to a place safest from it.
What better time to reminisce about my trip than today? Obviously, there are a lot of other reasons why but the below is to name a few why travel to Antarctica when the pandemic is finally over.
Antarctica is the Land of Penguins
There are eighteen species in the world, and four of them live in Antarctica. They have lost the ability to fly millions of years ago, but their flippers and bodies make them amazing swimmers. Can you believe that they can stay in water for 20 minutes? In a colony, they do everything together from eating, hunting, swimming, and nesting. They even huddle together when it gets freezing. During my trip that includes South Georgia and Falklands, I saw the chinstraps, rockhoppers, king penguins, magellanic, and gentoos. While December – February is the time they go inland to give birth, they spend March molting where they get rid of their old feathers, making way for the new ones.
Seals may be cute but don’t ever underestimate them.
They can run after you, and if you’re not careful, they bite! All you got to do is raise both your arms sideways, and they would think you’re one giant bird, and that will stop them in their tracks. Seals spend most of their lives in the sea, and they only come ashore to breed during summer. The babies are as cute as puppies!
Icebergs are the most majestic thing on this planet.
They are dangerous in their size, and because they float low in the water, it can cause danger to ships. They vary in shape, size, color, and pattern that seeing its beauty can definitely bring you peace. Cruising the Antarctica peninsula gives you the chance to see plenty of them. One memorable part of my journey is seeing one in the morning as I opened my window – that was right after crossing the fabled Drake Passage. Seeing the icebergs signal that you are now in calmer seas.
Challenge yourself in crossing the Drake Passage.
It will take a couple of days to cross, and rough seas are frequent. This will bring you to the motion sickness edge, and sometimes, the medicine just doesn’t work. Lying down on my bed, getting plenty of sleep, and drinking lemon and ginger in hot water saved my body. There is a way to escape this passage, which is by taking the flight (subject to weather conditions), but would you instead challenge yourself? If the explorers in wooden ships have done it in the past, you can too!
Learn the history of the whaling era.
The grueling period went on until 1969 that led to the extinction of whales. Whale oil was used to make margarine, vegetable oil, soap, and use to lit lamps. Its meat was a cheap source of protein. Visiting South Georgia and the Falklands, you will find a museum and ruins (thankfully) of the whaling stations. Hopefully, ceasing the operations would bring the whale population back.
Get to know the great Antarctica explorers.
With plenty of days at sea, our ship held 2 – 3 lectures a day enough for us to fall in love again with science and history. Some talks are about the explorers who brave the seas to reach the continent. Watch out for Ernest Shackleton, who led four British expeditions. The most famous, although unsuccessful, was the Trans-Antarctic (Endurance) Expedition (1914 – 1916) for its remarkable tale of perseverance and survival.
Meet other world travelers like yourself.
Antarctica’s travelers are like no other. They are filled with courage to travel the world and have rich experiences. With about three weeks at sea, you have plenty of chances to get to know them and exchange information and experiences you won’t hear anywhere else. Your next travel destination may come from them!
See out-of-this-world landscapes.
The land of fire and ice, the Antarctica continent, features snow capped mountains, icebergs, glaciers, trenches, ice shelves, and polar deserts – an absolute paradise for hikers and bird-lovers! It has an elevation of 2,500 meters due to the thick layer of ice. We stopped by Deception Island, where it is possible to have a warm bath with its volcanic warm waters. Some passengers did take the plunge, but it was still cold like needles sticking into your body.
Each year, about 50,000 people travel to the continent, and the cruise companies must be a member of IAATO, who aim to practice and promote safe and environmentally responsible travel in this delicate region. Antarctica has taught me to be more environmentally aware in my everyday routine and to spread the message for others to do the same. Besides, we are all responsible for keeping this planet alive.
The current pandemic is life-changing, one that will change your views in life and of the world. Hopefully, we will appreciate more of what the world has to offer, and remember that life is short to not spend in exploring. As a travel designer, I know that time will come that everyone will be happy to travel again without a worry. In the meantime, stay safe at home, build a strong resistance and wash your hands regularly!
If you would like to learn more about traveling to Antarctica in the next season, send us an inquiry!