The 7th continent, the Antarctica is twice the size of Australia and its surrounded by the Southern Ocean, one of the coldest, deepest and stormiest in the world. The Drake Passage is the only way from South America to reach the Antarctic Peninsula and the waves can become up to 18 meters there. We were lucky and had a smooth passage with only 4 to 5 meter waves but for us it was still very rough.
The Ocean Nova
A word to our vessel, The Ocean Nova. We had 75 passengers on board and 35 staff of which 15 belong to the expedition team. There was a dining room, a library, a gift shop, a gym and a fantastic observation deck surrounded by glass windows giving excellent panoramic views, which also included a bar so you did not miss any sights whilst enjoying a drink. Our cabin was on the upper deck and it was quite homely for an expedition boat. The ship was like a sailing hotel and thanks to our Austrian cook Daniel, the food was a culinary trip through my home country. We got Schmankerl like Schnitzel, Kasspaetzle, Kaiserschmarrn, Schupfnudel, Apfelstrudel, Semmel for breakfast and Kaesekrainer for a BBQ on deck and needless to say we have left the ship with 2kg more.
The Gerlache Strait
During our journey through the Drake Passage on the way to the Gerlache Strait. Our expedition team which included a Geologist, Oceanographer, Marine Wildlife Specialist, Naturalist, and a Mountain guide gave presentations about the Antarctic ranging from identification of sea birds, different species of whales and seals, icebergs and climate change. These presentations where valuable insights into this unknown continent and the part it plays in the world. They also helped take our mind off the seasickness.
Cuverville Isand and Wilhelmina Bay
On the 4th day of our trip we finally arrived to the Antarctic Pennisula and the door to our Antarctic experience. We where advised to get up early to witness the majesty of the sunrise, so after dragging ourselves from the bed at 0440 am we where not disappointed. Our first landing was to Cuverville Island. It was a truly unique experience that captured the spirit of the trip with thousands of penguins running around to the backdrop of towering glaciers and floating icebergs and a Leopard seal waiting for his next snack. In Wilhelmina Bay we had our first Zodiac ride around icebergs and on the hunt for seals and although I was wearing literally all clothes I had with me I was frozen after 2 hours.
To be continued……………….