After an incredible journey around Scandanvia, we ended up in the same place where we began, back in Italy for a short reprieve before continuing north to Toronto. As we made our way home all we could think about was what amazing experiences the next adventure would hold for us. We repacked our bags to prepare for our Antarctic expedition and counted down the days until we could leave again. It was a long haul from Toronto to Texas and then from there to Buenos Aires and then even further south to Ushuaia. After this journey we found ourselves gasping at the beauty of Tierra Del Fuego as we explored some of the parks before boarding the boat that would take us to the continent of Antarctica.
As we made our way down the long dock that was home to the National Geographic explorer, we were bubbling with anticipation, the boat grew larger and larger until it was looming over us, dwarfing us with its grandeur and inviting us to come and explore! We were guided to our rooms and then called together to meet the crew and go over safety and rules of the boat. We were already on our way towards the Drake Passage when we finished the rundown and were told to get ready for dinner. They began to set ropes up along the hallways and common areas of the boat because the next few days would be the roughest any of us had every experienced. It was all worth is as the waters smoothed and we saw our first icebergs, glimpses of wildlife and the sun trying to break through the clouds.
The days were incredibly long, with almost 24 hours of daylight, our inner clocks had to work overtime to keep us on schedule. When it came time for our first expedition to land, people we eager to get off the boat and set foot on solid ground again. It had been a rough couple of days and not only were we looking forward to being on solid ground but we were also excited to see some penguins!!! My favourite animal in the world and we were about to be overwhelmed by the cute little fluffies!! we smelled and heard them before we saw them and we knew there must have been thousands of them. We hiked over a ridge and came upon the colony of Adele penguins, most of whom were protecting their eggs while others collected rocks as tribute to their chosen partner.
The sea of penguins moved like a wave and amidst them all were hungry birds of prey waiting for their chance to swoop in a steal a meal. It was an incredible spectacle to watch as the penguins and birds constantly faced off against each other.
The days rolled by and we were never bored with the constantly changing scenery, incredible people and interesting lectures we received. The weather would change in an instant and go from clear and sunny to a veritable snow storm and then back to sunny again in a matter of hours. We were always on our toes because of this unpredictable weather and the captain was constantly changing course to give us the smoothest ride possible.
This meant that sometimes we would be out weaving through the icebergs looking for Leopard or Weddell seals and we would get a call on the radio saying to come back to the ship because a storm was rolling in. Other times the wildlife would prove too fantastic to let the weather deter us from seeing more and we would catch glimpses of great Orca whales swimming and breaking the surface as we tried to keep up with them while keeping a safe distance in the little dingy boats.
Some days we would go for great hikes and spend the day watching the icebergs move around below us and other days we would stay on the boat and watch schools of Humpback whales in a feeding frenzy of Krill. We celebrated, Christmas and then my birthday on the boat before we returned home to toronto on the morning of the 31st. The journey home was a bit of a blur as we were still so overwhelmed with the experience, all we could talk about was each and every moment and how incredible this trip was.