Hi Everyone -
Today was spent entirely at sea and boy did we luck out in the Drake Passage this route. The Drake is where three currents come together (the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Antarctic Convergence) so it is famous for being very rough and very very grey. However, we were fortunate to have fairly calm seas and a little sunshine. Though the boat is still rocking, it has been nothing like it is notorious for being.
They really keep you busy even at a day of sea. We had a lot of informational talks and lectures by different National Geographic guides and spent some time watching the albatross swooping side to side off the stern of the ship. One of the guides even instructed us on how best to use our GoPro camera in the coming days! Though not the most eventful day, I really enjoyed the pleasure of not having a lot to do (for us busy types, sometimes it takes a day at sea in the Arctic to remind us how important it is to take a day off!).
Tonight we had a debriefing on the loading/unloading of the zodiac boats that we will be taking to shore to shoot in the coming days (zodiacs are small rubber boats that larger vessels use to transport people to shore). The Expedition Leader gave a nice lecture and we now feel even more prepared than before for our arrival tomorrow morning in Antarctica!
So excited to step foot on my seventh continent tomorrow – I can’t wait to share more as we begin out photo shoot here on the White Continent!
It is day 4 of my travels. We awoke at 5am this morning to get get ready before heading to the local Buenos Aires airport to catch a plane to Ushuaia, the most southern city in the world. Flying over the beautiful Patagonia region we descended into a landscape I had never seen before: a sub-tropic ecosystem with low snow covered cliffs and lush widespread greenery.
We left the airport and headed through the local national park learning a lot about the natural environment. Due to the year round cold weather, the organic decomposition of natural foliage occurs much slower than most places on earth. Because of this you can observe many interesting details- especially in the forest. We saw two red foxes, Argentine geese and some colorful parakeets. Eventually, we came to the end of the park which is also the end of the Transamerican Highway that runs from Alaska to the bottom of Argentina. The day before this, a man who had been waking the trail for 2.5 years had arrived at the sign.
We then took a catamaran through the Beagle Channel, which separates Argentina and Chile. Spotting many sea lions and cormorants, my favorite moment was at an old red and white striped light house… it was truly stunning standing so silently amongst all the chattering birds in the quite bay. The ride ended with an exciting sight in the distance: the National Geographic Explorer ship we are taking to Antarctica!
Grabbing our belongings, we couldn’t help but race down to the ship and board this incredible boat. We are staying in a nice room with a view of the starboard. The staff was very welcoming and we spent some time doing safety drills and getting a lot of important information from the crew.
After dinner we received some new snazzy red parkas with the National Geographic logo and the boat set sail. Tonight, we will begin our ride deep into Drake’s Passage, which is famous for anyone going to Antarctica. The passage is where three currents meet – the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Antarctic Convergence. As you can imagine, this makes the passage rather rough and many tales have been told by the explorers who chartered this territory over the past two centuries.
Outside the window the sun is trying to set just after 10pm but not sure it will have a chance. Hopefully the sea will remain decent through the night and I look forward to sharing more tomorrow!
Today we arrived into Buenos Aires at 7:30am and drove one hour into the city to check-in to our hotel, the Ceasar Park in the La Recoletta district. The hotel is absolutely stunning and as soon we got into our room we flung our suitcases on the table and dove into the big white beds; we were in desperate need of a long nap!
After we woke up we did a 4 hour guided tour of the city by car and it was really wonderful. With only 24 hours here in Buenos Aires it allowed us to get nicely reacquainted with the city which we had both visited about 5 years prior.
From Evita Peron’s grave at the Recoletta Cemetery to the colorful houses in La Boca, we enjoyed the spring time weather and for a minute completely forgot we were going to the freezing temperatures of Antarctica the following day!
At night we went to a famous Argentine steak house and had some delicious empanadas with chimichurri sauce as well as a bottle of local Malbec wine- the perfect end to a brief visit to Buenos Aires.
Tomorrow we have a 5am wake up call for our charter flight to Ushuaia, the southern most city in the world where we will depart on the National Geographic Explorer!
Can’t wait to get to Antarctica. Cheers!