The number one destination on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. No place compares.
Pristine. Raw. Untouched. Magical. Breathtaking. Feels like another planet.
These are just some words to describe Antarctica.
If you're someone who likes things to go according to plan, then Antarctica may not be for you.
Everything you do, experience, and see in Antarctica is all by luck! You need to be flexible as itineraries may change depending on the weather. It is also one of the driest, windiest, and coldest destinations, so you need to have the right gear.
Though it may look sunny out, it's always best to wear extra layers instead of being cold. The weather can change rapidly and it's best to be prepared for it.
Below you may find our itinerary and the places we went to on our 10-night expedition. Keep in mind that everyone's experience in Antarctica is different. Even if you visit more than once, no two trips can ever be the same.
As we opted-in for a cruise package that included our flights to/from Ushuaia from Buenos Aires, we did not have much time to explore the small town. We walked around for about an hour and found that most places were closed (it could be because it was Sunday).
The town reminded me a lot of the ports I visited in Alaska. A picturesque town with views of the mountains in the background and the water.
We attempted to go to a gas station to get some snacks before leaving, but to our surprise, they had locked it as everyone inside was watching Argentina play in the World Cup. It was a moment to remember, and one that we found so interesting, as it really showed us how much the sport meant to everyone in the country.
2. THE DRAKE PASSAGE
Given that I had previously cruised to other parts of the world, I figured that perhaps the Drake Passage will not affect me much. I never usually get motion-sickness on ships, no matter how rocky it gets. However, crossing the Drake Passage was another story.
The Drake Passage has the roughest waters in the world. For the most part, I was locked up in the cabin, and I couldn't get out of bed. It was at that moment that it hit me: a trip to Antarctica is unlike any other vacation you will take. It's a real taste of adventure. A voyage to the unknown, but one that makes the challenges worthwhile, once you arrive.
Tip: Get motion-sickness pills and take it before going into the Drake Passage. They are good for 10-12 hours, so you can take more later. You can also try the motion-sickness bands.
3. HYDRURGA ROCKS & CIERVA COVE
Our days consisted of two landings. One in the morning, and another one in the afternoon. Either we would go for a zodiac cruise or we would go for a hike on land. Cierva Cove was one of the stops where we unfortunately could not get off the ship, but it had to be my favourite stop during our 10-night journey!
Cierva Cove is a secluded spot in Antarctica and one of the most fascinating places in my opinion. Here, you can find a multitude of icebergs, which left me completely in awe. The different shapes, sizes and hues were breathtaking. The mountains in the backdrop, though they looked like Toblerone chocolates, made for a picture-perfect postcard view from the deck. It's a real magical winter wonderland out here.
4. DANCO ISLAND & FOURNIER ISLAND
It was at these stops that we got extremely lucky, as we found some whales and they were not too far away from the zodiac. They gave us a show. Danco Island is also a great spot to go for a hike and to see the Gentoo penguin colony.
After our zodiac cruise in Fournier Island, we ended the day with a cold plunge into the Antarctic waters. The water was 0 degrees. The hardest part before jumping in were the few seconds before it happened. While standing on the platform, I could feel the strong winds which made my body feel numb. Once you jump, it took me about 10 seconds to process everything that had just happened. Before I could feel the cold water hitting me, I was back on the ship, running to my room to get in the shower. The best idea after a cold plunge would have been to go to the sauna to relax, as the cold plunge felt very refreshing.
5. NEKO HARBOR & DORIAN BAY
Did you know that Neko Harbor is known as the continental landing in Antarctica? Stepping foot on land here is where you can officially that you have been to the 7th continent!
From here, you can also catch stunning views of the Gentoo penguins colony and the glaciers in the distance (if you are lucky, you may even see one breaking off and falling!)
6. LEMAIRE CHANNEL & WINTER/YALOUR ISLAND
When we first entered LeMaire Channel, it was very foggy out which made it hard to see in the distance. However, this created for a dramatic and scenic cruising along the channel.
We were able to see the mountains and icebergs up close. We also had a bird join us on deck. We crossed LeMaire Channel, once when entering and as we were about to leave. The weather is pretty unpredictable in Antarctica, so it was no surprise when the skies cleared up by the time we were leaving.
Yalour Island was our final stop before heading back on the Drake Passage and returning to Ushuaia. Here, we found some Adelie penguins and came across many Skua birds.
Have you visited Antarctica yet?