Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did.
So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. --- Mark Twain

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Antarctica, Day 1

At first an appropriate quote: “To get to know a country, you must have direct contact with the earth. It’s futile to gaze at the world through a car window” – Albert Einstein.

Antarctica – discovered by Bellingshousen in 1820 lies about 1,000 kilometres from Ushuaia, in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. While walking around in town a lot of ads catch the eye announcing that” this is the very best place to visit Antarctica”. Actually that`s true as Antarctica is now open for tourism and the vast majority of cruises start from here - Ushuaia, some data says that even 90%. Basically it is also possible to visit Antarctica from other continents. Beginning the voyage from South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, but from these places the journey takes 4-6 days more – considering the distance of the port of departure.

A typical shorter boat trip from Ushuaia to Antarctica lasts 8-12 days, the first two days for getting there and the last two days for returning. During the cruise the Drake Strait will be crossed. There is no sense to describe the waves to the people who are familiar to the marine conditions there - but for others – the strait is stormy, there have been even waves that are several tens of meters high (fortunately – not always).

Some more info – the visit of Antarctica is strictly regulated and from tourist vessels only up to 100 visitors are permitted at a time on land. And that is quite important criterion for choosing the ship. From smaller ships (up to 100 passengers) almost all the passengers can get ashore. As to bigger cruise ships with thousands of tourists – there are quite different rules for them. And usually the passengers are not allowed to go ashore. But it is also clear that the ship accommodating 100 passengers sways considerably more compared to vessels that accommodate 300 or 500 passengers .

 Anyway here I am now trying to write in chronological order my voyage impressions and other useful information as well. Though it usually happens that more and more new things come up and it is difficult to follow the schedule, but here is the story:

The Antarctic journey began at 15.30 with meeting in the parking lot next to the port of Ushuaia. The flag of "Quark Expeditions” greeted us and while registering everybody had to present two important things, first the passport and secondly the air ticket booking of departure - so that in case the ship will return later than expected - the Airline could be informed. Then – the usual -Welcome on board, the first introductory meeting, the presentation of the employees of the ship and after that the obligatory training alarm during which the lifejacket had to be put on, then we had to come to the appointed place and after a short time line up next to the rescue boats . No need to climb inside the - just standing there was enough.


The ship left the port of Ushuaia at 18p.m. and moved along the Beagle Channel towards the Atlantic Ocean.

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