As the nights draw in and the clocks go back the Antarctic season begins and I find myself chatting to lots of clients who are soon to be heading south. This year I am as excited as them, as I too will be travelling on an Antarctica holiday in December.
Despite it being my third visit to the great white continent the novelty has certainly not worn off. This time I will be taking the quick route and flying from Punta Arenas in Chile directly to King George Island in the South Shetlands. This will save me two days at sea and take me straight into the heart of Antarctica.
The first few days I will explore the Antarctic Peninsula before heading into the Weddell Sea. The Weddell Sea region, the far side of the peninsula, will be completely new to me. I am looking forward to seeing the monumental tabular icebergs that it is renowned for along with the opportunity to see Emperor Penguins. History abounds here, this is where Shackleton and his men were trapped in the ice and the Swedish Nordenskjöld expedition built their stone shelter at Snow Hill Island, a structure over 100 years old that can still be seen today. From the Weddell Sea I head north to Elephant Island where fingers crossed we may land. This is a notoriously difficult landing, it took Shackleton four attempts before he could rescue his men, who had spent 137 days at Point Wild, so I am realistic about the chances but can always hope.
After a short sail across the Scotia Sea, the final destination will be the Falkland Islands, home to rock-hopper and king penguins along with the majestic black-browed albatross. From here it is a short flight back to Punta Arenas and home in time for turkey and trimmings.
With the flights taking out the days at sea I am hoping to pack in up to 19 landings or zodiac cruises on an 11-night voyage. This trip promises to pack a polar punch with great diversity of scenery and wildlife, I can’t wait.
I will be in Antarctica in 45 days – not that I am counting of course.