A Trip To The Bottom Of the World

When you tell someone you are going to Antarctica, the person either says, “Why would you do that, “ or expresses amazement. It is considered by many as the last wild place on earth, a continent that belongs to no country, that has beckoned explorers, adventurers, sealers and whalers for centuries, and now has become an increasingly popular tourist destination. Not that popular. One of the guests on our ship said he read that for every million people on earth, only four have visited Antarctica. In annual numbers, it is between 30 and 35 thousand a year.  By the way, that little guy below is a chinstrap penguin–aptly named because of that little line of black feathers under his chin. He was one of four species of penguins we saw on our first landing in Antarctica. But back to the beginning of our trip. 

 

img_0884Why am I here? I fell in love with our polar bears at the Pittsburgh Zoo . Of course, there are no polar bears  in the southern polar region, and no penguins in the northern polar region . So that Christmas coke commercial with the bears and penguins being so chummy? Would never happen. Not that a carnivore would be friends with a penguin–and penguins and polar bears don’t drink coke. Enough! What does this have to do with the Antarctic? Last June, I visited the Arctic to see polar bears and walruses and found the region enchanting and wondrous. Another person on the Lindblad cruise aboard the National Geographic Endeavour suggested that my friend, Jaqi Conomikes, and I visit the other end of the world within 6 months. Since Jaqi’s husband had no desire to do it,  we decided to give it a go. From one end of the world to the other, in less than half a year. I should have my head examined. But how many times have I been told that!

 

img_0855It is spring here. And it takes a long time to get down to this part of the planet. We flew into Santiago, Chile,  took a bus tour around this city of over 6 million. Then the next day, we took a four hour flight to Ushuaia, Argentina–which is called the southern- most city in the world. While waiting to board our ship, we visited Tierra Del Feugo (Land of Fire) National Park in Lapataia Bay, and took a catamaran trip around the bay, seeing South American sea lions and numerous species of seabirds–like dolphin gulls, imperial shags, and Antarctic terns. It was just a taste of what was to come. 

 

img_0859Then, finally, we stepped aboard the National Geographic Explorer. On its maiden voyage in Antarctica, it is a completely re-built ship, having once been a ferry–stripped down to its hull– and then fashioned into a state-of- the -art expedition cruise ship. Lindblad and National Geographic now have  a partnership, and there are National Geographic photographers and writers on these cruises, not to mention a host of other fascinating naturalists and historians who are part of the Lindblad staff. The ship is in the smaller class of vessels that tour Antarctica, and I wouldn’t travel there any other way. Fewer passengers allowed us to off-load in Zodiacs and walk among the penguins–sometimes twice a day. More on that in the next posting.

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2 Responses

  1. Sally,
    My husband & myself were worried that you’d left ch 4!
    We’re very happy to find that you’re on 1 of the most Exciting Ventures that anyone can experience!! We’ll continue to track your journey. Be safe & come back soon.
    Regards,
    Sheri & Bones

    • Yes, I took another nature trip, and will be doing several stories about it. Probably three this time. I did two six months ago when I went to the Arctic.

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