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In January, 2009, we joined Linblad Expeditions for a cruise to Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. Our home for 21 days was the National Geographic Explorer. This ship was newly refurbished and very beautiful as well as comfortable.Our cabin had two twin beds, a desk, chair, flat screen tv, and internet capability. The bathroom was spacious with a walk in shower. There were plenty of drawers and shelves for all that we brought. Because the ship was outfitted with stabilizers, she rode the high seas very well so we were never seasick. There were 121 passengers on board. All meals were open seating so we got to meet most of them. For more photos of the Explorer, go to the Photo Gallery - Ship.

We began the trip by flying from Miami to Santiago, Chile, an 8 hour flight. After a brief bus tour of the city and an overnight at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, we flew 3 hours to Ushuaia, Argentina. This is the southernmost city in the world and the jumping off point for most cruises to Antarctica. Before boarding our ship, we were given lunch and a sail through the Beagle Channel on a catamaran. Then it was off on our great adventure. The first two days were spent at sea, crossing the Drake Passage. We had heard horror stories of severe seas on this body of water but were very fortunate to have only light swells. Then it was time for our first landing.

January is summer in Antarctica but the weather is more like the month of March in Colorado. Temperatures were usually in the mid 30's but on a clear, sunny day it felt like 50. Weather changed almost by the hour and we came to expect rain, snow, sun and wind all in the same day.Because landings from the zodiaks were usually on a beach, we wore knee-high rubber boots to wade thru the water. These were also needed for the hikes which were often thru snow and/or mud. And waterproof pants (we brought our ski pants) were essential. Linblad supplied everyone with parkas and they worked wonderfully to keep us warm and dry.

No single country owns the Antarctic Continent. Through a treaty signed in 1959, countries have agreed to abide by certain rules when visiting or setting up research stations there. In order to preserve the unique natural environment, only 100 people are allowed to land at any one time. We were divided into 4 groups with all groups going ashore but in rotation. Before and after going ashore, we dunked our boots in an antiseptic solution and scrubbed off the mud. Our ship had a "mud room" with lockers where we stored our boots after each excursion.

King Penguins and elephant sealsAlmost everyone on board had a digital camera - some point and shoot but most SLR's with telephoto lenses. This was a photo expedition and there was a National Geographic photographer onboard as well as an underwater photographer and staff video chronicler. And Antarctica is a photographer's dream. Like the Galapagos, we were able to get up close and personal with the animals who seemed not to care that we were in their home.We saw 5 kinds of penguins, 4 kinds of seals, 15 species of birds, reindeer, whales and dolphins.Gentoo Penguin There were 10 naturalists on board who kept us educated on all the wildlife, geology and history of the region. In addition, we had 2 researchers from Oceanites who's job it was to count the penguins at each landing site in Antarctica. This data is used to determine how the population is changing.


Leopard SealOur cruise took us to landings on Antarctica as well as South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. A map with our route and landings can be viewed by going to Antarctica Maps.

To read about each place we visited and see a few photos from that area, go to Antarctica Newsletters.


You can view more photos from our trip by going to the Photo Gallery. And if you want to see a full size picture, just click on the photo. Fur Seal Pup



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