The Wish List Tourist: Antarctica

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A Northamptonshire woman is in the middle of a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

You can follow her progress with the Northants Telegraph.

Rebecca has been amazed by the Antarctic.

The silence was palpable.

Three humpback whales were swimming 100 metres ahead of us and they’d been under water for four minutes.

Behind me I heard the sound of a blowhole – the head of one of the gigantic beasts as it climbed out the water was close enough to touch.

That moment was one of the most exhilarating of my life.

I have never felt so in awe. And small.

Antarctica exceeded all my expectations.

Each day was better than the last and during the 14 days I was on board the Akademik Ioffe, a Russian research vessel, I was having the time of my life. Literally.

Even sailing through the notorious Drake Passage, at times so rough it would make the hardiest sailor sick, was a pleasure thanks to the crew from One Ocean, who led the expedition.

Luckily, I didn’t experience its full wrath.

Presentations held in the run-up to our first landing prepared us for what we would see and even how to photograph it.

The crew also helped us fatten up with huge quantities of superb food that was impossible to refuse.

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Our first landing on Detaille Island, off the Antarctic peninsula, introduced us to one of three breeds of penguin we would see along our way; gentoo, chinstrap and adelie.

We also got to look around an abandoned British base, lost in time to the 1950s.

It stands as it was left, with food, clothing and magazines dotted around.

From there I got to swim in the Southern Ocean. It was a sunny day, so why not? Oh. My. Gosh. It was COLD.

I ‘swam’ for around 30 seconds and slid quickly back on to the Zodiac to get dressed.

The towel hurt my skin as I dried off, but I was smiling from ear to ear.

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And then the moment I’d been waiting for – setting foot on the White Continent.

Surrounded by penguins again, I got to wander, then sat down to face out towards the sea and a glacier opposite just in time to hear the crack, as loud as thunder, and see a huge slice of ice fall with stunning, graceful deadliness into the ocean.

There were so many highlights of this trip which words and pictures cannot describe, but to name but a few more: buzzing around the iceberg graveyard on Zodiacs, seal spotting, relaxing in a hot tub on the deck of our ship as we passed through the Lemaire Channel, sliding down the icy hillsides on my bottom, drinking Ukranian almond-flavoured home-made vodka at the southernmost bar in the world, sailing round Cape Horn and camping out under the Milky Way.

Yes, this trip was expensive, but it was worth every cent!

Travellers’ tips

If you have the time to spare, you can get last-minute deals by turning up in Ushuaia nad booking through one of the agencies.

I booked a twin room (bunkbeds), with a shared bathroom, for $7,650, through Freestyle Adventure Travel.

Take seasickness tablets with you!

Wear lots of layers.

The excursion operators should provide outer wear; spray suits and Wellington boots.

Penguin poo smells rotten – be prepared. Don’t go with a weak stomach!

For more information about this trip, Antarctic Circle Voyage Extended, click here.

Follow Rebecca’s blog, Facebook page or Twitter account.

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