Antarctica - Part Two

Old Feb 26th, 2005, 02:48 PM
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Antarctica - Part Two

After breakfast, we were set to make OUR FIRST CONTINENTAL LANDING! Brown Bluff with its hundreds of Gentoo and Adelie penguins seemed the quintessential greeting point for all who venture here; an easy landing for our zodiacs on a gravel beach, ringed with snow and ice, hundreds of nests, penguins with no fear of intruders from the sea and a towering, volcanic peak above. After recording perhaps more pictures than there were penguins, gaping in awe at our surroundings and our ship at anchor offshore, it was time to return to the Orlova for lunch and more adventure. As we enjoyed what was becoming another of the ships legendary meals, she moved to Hope Bay, the location of Esperanza Station, an Argentinean research station. Here we were hosted to a tour of the base and an afternoon tea complete with sweets, not a small feat for a little community that has to bring everything in by ship, and whose total population, including children, was probably little more than our numbers. This was our first, and only one of two, opportunities to purchase small mementos and post mail from Antarctica. In the late afternoon, we returned to our ship and showers, relaxation, a daily recap and another huge, but welcomed dinner.

And so, each succeeding day, Thursday through Sunday continued to build upon the previous. Thursday held the wonders of Half Moon Island with it's calving glaciers and extraordinary seals, whales and penguins and Deception Island, a volcano with an entry through which we sailed into the caldera to the remnants of Port Foster (a former research station) located in what was know from it's earlier sad activities as Whaler' Bay (and for the hearty and fool hardy a dip into the "hot tub" and the waters of the Southern Ocean). Friday found us sailing from the South Shetlands into the Gerlache Channel for the wonders of Cuverville Island (an extraordinarily scenic area of icebergs, glaciers and wildlife) and later on to Neko Harbor (only thirty miles across the peninsula from the Wedddell Sea) where we were treated to the wonderous sights and sounds of alpine and tidewater glaciers. Saturday morning found us in Paradise Bay with zodiac cruises among icebergs and awe inspiring Petzval Glacier. This was followed in the afternoon with a visit to Port Lockroy, our second and last opportunity to shop and mail postcards from Antarctica. This former British research station is now maintined in the summer as a museum. One of our staff lecturers (who had done penguin research here) was returning for the first time in two years and was warmly welcomed by two of her colleagues who were again on station. Sunday found us with the much touted need for flexibility as we continued south and approached the Lemaire Channel. The caviat of "things depending entirely upon ice conditions" was realized. The passage was completely blocked by pack ice. But, this simply resulted in another opportunity to take to the zodiacs to see the glaciers, icebergs, and seals and other wildlife at 65+ degrees south. In the late aftenoon, as all good things must, the magical adventure began to conclude, and the Orlova turned north for the two day passage back through the Drake Passage to South America. Wednesday, February 2, 05', the Russian Officers and crew delivered us and the good ship Orlova back to Ushuaia.

Were there surprises? Yes, surprised that it could be so totally enchanting, surprised that for the most part so many people from so many areas of the earth, with so many different interests and backgrounds, could become such a hemogenous, cordial group, surprised that after the first day or so, egos were left in the cabins with dirty laundry and surprised that we could have such an interest in returning.

Are there regrets? Yes, regrets that we didn't do this years ago, regrets that this lasted only days instead of months,, regrets that there wasn't more time to get to know the extraordianary lecturers and guides who made this so much more meaningful - especially John Killingbeck - regrets that we couldn't capture on film and express in words the magic of this wonderous and unique place on our earth.

If you have but one vacation to take, make it Antarctica!
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Old Feb 28th, 2005, 08:17 AM
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Since when is Antartica in Latin America?
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Old Feb 28th, 2005, 09:14 AM
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Dear Pottle,
You did such a wonderful job of describing the experience of Antarctica! We also just returned from a trip, except that we were on the Norwegian vessel, the Nordnorge, with about 350 people. We visited many of the same places. Your description will help to inspire other people to go to this magical place.
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Old Feb 28th, 2005, 09:20 AM
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I have enjoyed reading your Antarctica threads, Pottle. You are a very descriptive writer and you have certainly inspired me to think about Antarctica.

We are leaving for Argentina next week !

RB, did you get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning? Pottle started the trip in Argentina and besides, there is no Antarctica forum.
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Old Feb 28th, 2005, 09:55 AM
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Thank you for another great report. Your experiences have only made us more excited about our trip next year!
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Old Feb 28th, 2005, 10:54 AM
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Judi, Antartica is thousands of miles from Latin America.
The point I was making is that this post is more appropriate in the cruising board than latin america. In the future anyone searching for info on Antartica would be unlikely to look in the Latin American thread. The cruise I took to Antartica left from South Africa.
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Old Feb 28th, 2005, 11:34 AM
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Sounds like a once in a lifetime trip.

Antarctica is only 600 miles from South America at the closest point; it is close to 2700 miles from South Africa.



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Old Mar 1st, 2005, 05:51 AM
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Pottle
When I read you report I almost thought you were on my trip. I did practically the same journey (with partypoet, my cousin) on the Nordnorge at the end of Jan. Only difference, we continued on up the Chilean coast to Puerto Montt where we flew to Santiago and stayed a few days. Your description is totally accurate. the vistas at Antarctica were not to be believed and the penguins added life to the picture. Fodors should definitely begin an Antarctica forum.
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Old Mar 1st, 2005, 12:13 PM
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Pottle,

Thank you for the report. It sounds truly amazing.

My husband and I have considered a trip to Antarctica for a few years and every time, Africa wins out. But you have convinced me that it has to be done.

Which company did you go with and why? I have noticed that prices for Antarctica trips range from $3K to $10K. I wonder how you picked yours?

You mentioned in Part 1 that you picked up your winter weather gear from a company. Does this mean jackets and boots are available for rent so you didn't have to buy them especially for the trip?

Thanks!
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Old Mar 3rd, 2005, 09:50 AM
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why not just post it twice - once here, once in cruises. problem solved!

Pottle, what a great trip! memories for a lifetime!!
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Old Mar 12th, 2005, 10:09 PM
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Thanks everyone for your kind comments. And, sorry for the delayed response; the day after I posted "...Part Two", I left for another short trip and have just returned.

Partypoet & Lolo12, it's wonderful that you've enjoyed this extraordinary experience. Hope you'll share your trip highlights with others on these forums. KT, the rest envy you, for although we've been fortunate enough to have been there, you're more fortunate to be going! Judi, as this is being typed, the rest of us have only memories, and you're probably creating some with one of the world's greatest steaks. Let us hear about it when you return.

Ngodia, you're right, Africa is a special and wonderful place, and I look forward to returning. But, you're also right, you should experience Antarctica. It is one of, if not THE most exciting, enchanting, spectacular places on this earth. We chose Quark Expeditions, booked through Expedition Trips in Seattle. They have a reputation as a quality adventure type cruise operator; their voyages offer excellent activities; they had avaliability within the budget that we'd established; and they offered excellent value for the price. The prices that you mentioned are relatively accurate, and ours was mid range. Please don't make a decision based on price alone. You deserve more than a boat ride in cold water when you go that far, spend that much money and journey to that magical place. We did rent our parkas, thermal water proof pants, boots and day pack (some new and all clean and in good repair) from a small company owned and operated by two enthusastic, young women in Ushuaia. The total cost for the two of us was $125 for the entire voyage, and we were allowed to simply leave our duffle on the dock, shipside on dis-embarcation!

And last, but not least, Flygirl, it was truly the trip and memories of a lifetime!



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Old Mar 14th, 2005, 10:49 AM
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Pottle - we, too, are using Expedition Trips, and just completed our booking for next February. We are taking the Polar Star. Did Expedition help you with the equipment rental in Ushuaia? My husband and I already have parkas, pants, etc. But we definitely do not want to have to buy and lug waterproof rubber boots if we don't have to, and renting sounds like the perfect solution.
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Old Mar 16th, 2005, 10:03 AM
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KT: Expedition helped by providing the name of the rental service, without endorsement. I checked with others who had used the service......they were satisfied, even enthusiastic.
The web address is [email protected] There are sometimes probloms with internet communication with that part of the world, just be persistent. I do recommend them, and would be eager to use their services again.
Have fun preparing for your voyage to that wonderful part of this world.
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Old Mar 17th, 2005, 07:05 AM
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Pottle -- thank you. That's just what I needed to know!
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Old Jun 30th, 2005, 10:41 AM
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Hello POTTLE and everyone else,
We are going to Antarctica this December, but I'm wondering about the rest of Argnetina, specifically the Patagonia/El Calafate region. Has anyone been to BOTH? Wondering if we should just skip the Perito Moreno glacier because we'll have seen lots in Antarctica? It's a "must-see" according to many guidebooks, but they're assuming most readers are not planning to go way down south.
We only have another 12 days in Argentina, and if I don't "have to" see Patagonia, I'd like to go up north instead.
Any advice??

THANKS!
vancouvergirl

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