When I tell people about my next trip south – my third, people often ask “Why”?
Why travel to the coldest, most inhospitable continent in the world? Why travel across raging seas and put up with blizzard conditions? Why don’t you go somewhere warmer? What does your wife think? I didn’t know you could even get there on a holiday!
No matter how much my love for this amazing place grows with every visit, I still really struggle to put into words what is so wonderful about a trip to Antarctica. I have read many books on the subject, I have associated many superlatives, but nothing, can really do the majesty of the white continent any justice, In a nutshell its indescribable, because it is not only about what you see and experience when you are down there, it is about how you feel, and you cannot feel this incredible, ethereal sensation anywhere else on this planet.
Whether you do a long or short cruise to Antarctica, fly in, cruise in, visit South Georgia and Falkland Islands, go beneath the Antarctic circle or just take an ‘ordinary’ run of the mill expedition cruise to Antarctica, you will be completely, and utterly smitten with this icy wonderland.
From the soaring peaks that drop into the water almost vertically on the Antarctic Peninsula, to the incredible forms of the icebergs, in every shape and size – weathered by wind, snow and spray, to the wildlife; Penguins, seals of all descriptions, whales, birds, all in a mad hurry to get things done while the short summer period is at its peak, to the vast glaciers, incredible landscapes at every turn, it all combines to present a unique destination and a sublime experience.
Frequent travellers to the Antarctic will often tell you of the “ice” that flows in their veins. Somehow, at the very first sight this continent penetrates your very core – giving you this desirably incurable affliction. It leaves you restless and draws you back.
In this day of constant connection to the world around us via internet, mobile phones and a multitude of apps telling us what to do at every moment of the day – There is something refreshing about heading south on an Antarctic expedition cruise and just getting away from it all. No noise, no chatter – just the deathly silence of nothing. No cars, No background noise, nothing – just silence. It’s incredibly refreshing to be in a place still on this earth that feels like another planet.
Antarctica will grip you, it will hold you in her power and make you realise just how fragile our planet is. In fact, a trip here will make you an ambassador, whether that title sits well with you or not. When you visit her she will beg you to tell your friends, spread the word to strangers, share your story of how she touched connected you to mother earth. No superlatives, no image, nothing can do her justice.
Experiencing Antarctica from the comfort of an Expedition ship really gives you the best of both worlds, comfort, and a small group of fellow expeditioners to share this incredible journey with, many of whom will become lifelong friends, sharing your affliction of ice in the veins, they will be the only people who truly understand what you experienced. You’ll follow in the footsteps of the incredible explorers who left their mark on this vast land, experience a trip that only 30,000 people per year actually get to go on. Make your own journey in the footsteps of legends.
On my last trip, I was fortunate to travel with Fred from the South Coast of NSW, Australia, originally from Germany of 85 years young, with whom I hiked a portion of Shackleton’s legendary trek across South Georgia. At the top of a summit, Fred looked at me with tears streaming down his face – the sheer joy of fulfilling one of his life’s goals. But there was also a sense of sadness. I asked him to sum up what he thought of his surroundings, what made him feel that way about the Antarctic. His reply was simple, “It’s the only place left on this planet we haven’t messed up yet”. It struck a chord with me, and to this day it is the simplest most descriptive answer on why you must visit, this desolate, cold, and sometimes inhospitable part of our world. She wants you to see her, she wants you to share her story with the world. She needs us, care to join me?
By Greg Carter
Greg is a Co-founder of Chimu Adventures – Australia’s Antarctic specialists