double-kayaks for paddling up close to the hundreds of adorable Adélie penguins that march up and down at the water’s edge. You also get to go ashore two or three times a day—often riding the surf in a Zodiac for a “wet landing” on a beach—unlike with larger ships which simply add on a spot of sightseeing to a South American cruise.
Nor is comfort forgotten. The Explorer has a wellness spa, a bistro bar with a piano, balcony cabins with spacious ensuite bathrooms, and a mudroom with lockers to stow your boots and outer gear. There’s It’s an understandable mistake if you think the so-called great white hot chocolate with Baileys when you stomp in from the cold, and continent of Antarctica is white. Of course, the mountains are blanketed whole roasted duck breast drizzled with raspberry jus for dinner. Yet with snow, and the vast icy plateaus are indeed white—so blindingly the focus is on learning and adventure—what you come to Antarctica white that you’ll squint even wearing Ray-Bans. But the icebergs? for—and so there are daily lectures on Antarctic fauna and the heroic Those are blue. In Iceberg Alley in the Weddell Sea, colossal tabular exploits of Sir Ernest Shackleton, who with 28 men survived a brutal icebergs bigger than downtown buildings are luminescent in their winter in 1915 after pack ice crushed their ship. There is also film foot-blueness. Smaller ice sculptures seem to comprise every possible shade age from the ship’s remote-operated vehicle, which explores the ocean of blue. Even when day turns to dusk and everything else is grey and silver, the bergs still glow with blue light. I like watching the penguins best. We sit for hours on the frozen Over at Whalers Bay on Deception Island, the predominant colour ground observing their antics—tobogganing down snowy slopes on is black. The black sand beach stretches as far as the eye can see, and is their tummies, tripping over our boots, tumbling headfirst into the strewn with rusted fuel tanks and the skeletal remains of wooden boats water. At Baily Head on Deception Island we hear the 100,000 pairs of (relics from the whaling companies that used the bay as a base during chinstrap penguins long before we see them. We visit in November— the first half of the 20th century). Weddell seals bask on the volcanic courting and breeding season—and the chinstraps, with their bills beach here, which is warmed by geothermal heat. We too soak up the pointed skyward and f lippers outstretched, are squawking noisily warmth when we peel off our parkas, dash into the frigid sea, and wal- for their mates. “It’s known as ‘ecstatic behaviour’,” explains Steve low in the steaming geothermal waters that bubble up through the tiny MacLean, an ecologist and one of 11 naturalist guides accompanying us on our Lindblad voyage. “Each penguin has its own distinct call. Antarctica is a palette of colours. Roald Amundsen, the Norwegian They can find their partner from the previous year among the thou- leader of the first expedition to reach the South Pole, got it right when sands of other birds by calling for them.” he wrote in his diary in 1911, “Glittering white, shining blue, raven black, When we arrive at tiny Port Lockroy, our last Antarctic landfall, we in the light of the sun, the land looks like a fairy tale.” And it is indeed are greeted with brilliant splashes of scarlet. Originally a military base an otherworldly realm. The stuff of dreams, Antarctica is often the last from the Second World War, three simple red huts are now maintained continent adventurous travellers visit. For one, it requires a commitment by the U.K. Antarctic Heritage Trust from November to March (the in terms of time and stoicism. Most expedition cruises journey for at least Antarctic cruise season) as the world’s southernmost museum, post 11 nights. It takes four days from the tip of Argentina just to get to the office, and, yes, souvenir shop. A colony of gentoo penguins is begin- Antarctic Peninsula and back; and you’ll need Dramamine while cross- ning to nest around the site. They carry stones in their orange bills to ing the infamously rough Drake Passage. But once you approach the build their mounded nests for the chicks that will hatch in December Antarctic Circle, the ice-choked waters are calm and the magic unfolds.
and January; we carry bags with T-shirts and trinkets back to the Zodiacs A small expedition vessel like the 148-passenger ice-rated National as we reluctantly bid farewell to this colourful cold continent. Geographic Explorer, operated by Lindblad Expeditions in partner- ship with the National Geographic Society, allows you to truly PHOTOS: Gentoo penguins at Port Lockroy on the Antarctic Peninsula; icebergs immerse yourself in this wonderland. It comes complete with 36 stable THIS ARTICLE APPEARED IN THE AUTUMN 2009 ISSUE OF NUVO 2009 NUVO Magazine Ltd.

Source: http://www.sandinmysuitcase.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/NUVO-Antarctica-Calling.pdf

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