ANTARCTICA Ice ice baby!
Kathirvelu Selvaraj always dreamt of visiting the Antarctica. And one day, he finally did.
I always dreamt of going to Antarctica and my dream came true in February this year. One of my classmates, Avajit, also had the same dream and decided to join me.
Our expedition team was to meet up in Santiago (Chile). Our team members were about 140 from different parts of the world. Forty percent of them were Americans and the rest were from Germany, Denmark, Australia, Sweden and England, and we were the only two Indians.
We were flown by a chartered plane from Santiago to Ushuaia (Argentina), the southern-most city of the world, where it says, “End of the world and beginning of everything.” This is where we had to board our cruise to Antarctica. It took about one-and-a-half days to pass the Drake Passage, the world’s roughest sea. Our captain had a tough time cruising this passage. Our ship was rocking and swaying and most of us fell sea sick, including some of the crew members.
The next day we were feeling better and were in Antarctica waters. The captain knows that we are in Antarctica waters only when the temperature gauge shows sudden drop in the water temperature by six degrees. We were all so excited to see the ice at a distance. Soon we entered the glacier-lined Lemaire Channel considered to be one of the most beautiful passages in Antarctica where there is no wind, and the crystal-clear water reflects the tall steep mountains on both sides of the passage. Here we spotted a few humpback whales and seals, and saw thousands of penguins on the ice.
We had landing at different locations and were transported by Polar Cirkel boats. We enjoyed the nature by walking on the ice, climbing the mountains and sliding down. The temperature was as low as -36°C. We were walking along with the penguins as though they were our pets. It was amazing to see the penguin life, the way they build their nests with pebbles and stones and the way they care of their young ones. One of the parents remains with the chick while the other goes into the ocean to feed and bring food for the young ones.
Paradise Harbor, Port Lockroy, Neko Harbor, Petermann Island were some of the locations where we landed and experienced the beautiful mountains, glacier, ice shelves, ice cliffs and floating ice bergs. It was so soothing to the eyes to look at the crystal-white ice and the blue waters, on the whole it was picture perfect.
Our voyage was a close encounter with all the elements. The vision of mighty glaciers carving into the sea, thousands of eager penguins in formation on the ice, humpback whales bathing in the freezing water — all this became one of our most memorable experience. We were all given a certificate for completing this expedition by Hurtigruten, the organisers.
Log on to
www.cruisenorway.com that gives all information about booking yourself on a splendid holiday in Antarctica.