They always say that you shouldn't meet your idols. In travel terms, Antarctica has been that idol for me; ever-present at the top of my bucket list. The question was - could it live up to my extremely high expectations?
Living up to Expectations
A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to meet my idol. I had of course, as with most places on earth, already seen a vast array of photos, read various books and articles and watched numerous Attenborough masterpieces on Antarctica so there should have been no real surprises. How wrong could I be? The scenery was more dramatic than any photo, the scale of the ice and the size of this white desert more astounding than any map could convey and the wildlife more abundant.
It's fair to say that a trip to the Antarctic has become far more accessible in the past few years; there are luxury cruise ships of all sizes and you can fly in from Chile or South Africa (avoiding what many believe are the most unpredictable waters on earth). But make no mistake about it, whichever means of travel you use, this will be an expedition.
Bucket List Adventure
In today's world, we have evolved ways of making travel so seamless and scheduled that the element of surprise becomes non-existent. Antarctica is the perfect place for those that still like a touch of adventure and mystery, and want to feel genuinely intrepid, albeit with a comfortable bed at night and some good food! The unpredictable weather and shifting sea ice mean that each day will bring at least a small change to an itinerary. This only adds to the feeling of adventure and makes you realise that this is still the end of the world.
The Last Wilderness
Antarctica is also still a land of 'firsts'. Only two weeks after my return an American explorer became the first person to successfully cross Antarctica unaided. It was a stark reminder of how special a trip to the White Continent is. I will never forget the solitude, the white, the wind-sculpted ice formations, the calving glaciers, the industrious and endearing penguins, the breathless feeling after a polar plunge and the first time I saw an iceberg!
If you're interested in a trip to Antarctica, get in touch today.