Antarctica: Whales, Penguins, Icebergs and So Much More!

Not a single soul in this big old world of ours permanently calls Antarctica home. While I’m not saying that I have what it takes to set up shop down there or that anyone really does, I will say that spending a few weeks traveling to this beautiful, white continent is a worthwhile endeavor. I mean where else in the world do you receive a welcoming committee that consists of massive whales, lovable penguins, laid back seals as well as a wide variety of birds gracefully soaring above? To top it all off, many of these animals have had very little contact with humans, if at all, which is incredibly unique!

Before we even laid eyes on a penguin, we saw this playful humpback whale right next to our boat!

Before we even laid eyes on a penguin, we saw this playful humpback whale right next to our boat!

This sweet seal was peacefully napping on an iceberg.

This sweet seal was peacefully napping on an iceberg.

Antarctica is truly a bird lover's paradise as you can find anything from petrels to penguins to albatrosses.

Antarctica is truly a bird lover’s paradise as you can find anything from petrels to penguins to albatrosses.

Five Ways in Which a Cruise to Antarctica will Exceed Even Your Highest Expectations

1. Two Words: Polar Plunge

Why not strap that rope around your waist, let out your highest pitch scream and submerge your body into water temperatures fit for a penguin? When in Antarctica, it’s only appropriate to do as the penguins do! Be sure to immediately reward yourself with a steaming hot shower though. Becoming a human icicle isn’t as sexy as it sounds!

Check out that cannon ball form - 10 out of 10!

Check out that cannon ball form – 10 out of 10!

Enjoying every second of it, I swear!

Enjoying every second of it, I swear!

Here is where our ship was anchored for the polar plunge.  Do you have goose bumps yet??

Here is where our ship was anchored for the polar plunge. Do you have goose bumps yet??

2. (Cue old school, robotic AOL email notification voice) You’ve Got Mail!

By mail, I mean snail mail that is actually signed, sealed, and delivered from Antarctica from who else than yours truly. The post office is located on Port Lockroy and it operates in a small building that was previously an old British base. The three or four individuals that work there will kindly mail postcards to the destination of your choice. Brian and I took bets on how long it would be (if ever) before our parents laid eyes on our cheesy messages. Any guesses as to how long it took? Well, much to our surprise, the postcards arrived in only a few short weeks! The South Pole mail service might just have the US Postal Service beat!

Greetings from Antarctica!

Greetings from Antarctica!

3. Playing with the Penguins!

Polar bears are to the Arctic as penguins are to the Antarctic. Nothing better than a good analogy, right? If you’re looking for polar bears, no need to venture to Antarctica. You must head to northern waters. Here in the Antarctic, penguins are the main attraction and oh boy, are they funny to observe as they waddle around and slide on the snow!

We were fortunate to see four different types of penguins while on our cruise including the heavily sought after emperor penguin! Based on the areas we were traveling to, we were told by the staff aboard our boat that we weren’t going to see an emperor penguin. In fact, we were informed that we had a zero percent chance of scoring even a quick glance at an emperor penguin. Lucky for us, Mother Nature happened to be working some miracles while we were down there and we did actually get to see a majestic emperor penguin! I think he was lost…

The biggest surprise of our trip, the emperor penguin, hanging out with two adelie penguins.

The biggest surprise of our trip, the emperor penguin, hanging out with two adelie penguins.

My personal favorite, the chinstrap penguins!

My personal favorite, the chinstrap penguins!

Who needs cable in their cabin when penguins provide hours of comical entertainment?

Who needs cable in their cabin when penguins provide hours of comical entertainment?

The Gentoo penguin

The Gentoo penguin

4. [insert fun, adventure activity here] and do it in ANTARCTICA!

While the excursion activities will vary depending on which company you go with and which boat you are on, there should almost always be a handful of exciting activities offered for you to enjoy! Camping, kayaking, skiing, and mountaineering are just a few examples of ways you can get out there and experience more of the natural beauty that is Antarctica!

Brian and I are only amateur skiers; however, we knew that skiing in Antarctica was an experience that we would never forget. As it turns out, our small cross country ski group was able to spend one of our afternoons skiing on a glacier of all things. Thankfully, no one tumbled into any crevasses!

Skiing

Skiing

Skiing

5. Learn? I didn’t come down to Antarctica to get lectured.

Believe me, you’ll enjoy this type of lecturing! When you aren’t gasping in amazement at the towering icebergs or the whales surfacing on the water and you’re not off frolicking on land with colonies of penguins, the experts on board the cruise offer a plethora of interesting seminars with topics to spark anyone’s interest. On our cruise, we actually had a biologist, historian, ornithologist (bird expert) as well as a scientist specializing in penguins conducting research in Antarctica all giving lectures on topics within their respective fields.

We even had the cousin of the famous Antarctic explorer, Earnest Shackleton, on our boat as well. Can you imagine being one of the first people to explore the unknown Antarctic waters or venture onto the breathtaking, white continent with its beautiful but harsh and unforgiving climate? Antarctica is actually the coldest, driest and windiest continent on Earth! However, you can handle even the coldest temperatures with the massive parkas they give you on the ship and let’s be honest, having to bundle up is a small price to pay for being able to enjoy the remarkable wildlife, marine life and landscapes that make up Antarctica!

If Antarctica is on your bucket list, you should definitely give an Antarctic cruise some serious consideration. It’s truly unlike any other experience! If you have some extra time, consider traveling to El Calafate and El Chalten or Bariloche in Patagonia on your way down to Ushuaia (which is the launching point for cruises to Antarctica)!

The sun never truly set while we were in Antarctica so enjoyed hours upon hours of dayllight!

The sun never truly set while we were in Antarctica so we enjoyed hours upon hours of daylight!

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3 thoughts on “Antarctica: Whales, Penguins, Icebergs and So Much More!

  1. Pingback: 7 Things I’ve Learned From Traveling Around the World | Beaches & Backpacks

  2. What a lovely account of your cruise! Makes me recall the wonderful movie “March of the Penguins”. If you haven’t seen it, you need to rent it and it will bring back memories and give you an added appreciation of this wonderful bird.

  3. Hi Guys,

    I just stumbled across your blog as I am researching my travels to South America at the moment, love your blog and pics on instagram 🙂 I too am travelling with my partner and this will be our first travel adventure together of this extent, so really excited also maybe a little anxious ….. So much time seems to be needed to research.

    I would so so love to be able to make it to Antartica, But from what I have seen it looks incredibly pricey… 😦 Do you have any advice on the cheapest way to be able to get there…such as best companies, last minute deals that you may know of etc?

    Besides Antartica I am wanting to start at the bottom of South America and do Patagonia and then head north from there. We are wanting to travel for as long as our funds can last us and are open to trying new things and working (for food and board) to enable us to be able to stay in places for longer. Have you done this kind of travel before? As any advice or tips would so greatly be appreciated 🙂

    Also just any advice on things to see and do in places you have been to in South America would be amazing 🙂 And also ways to travel on the cheap or in an affordable manner, you guys seem to have done so so much….its incredible 🙂

    If you were planning on traveling South America from Bottom to top, how do you think you would go about it in terms of planning places to visit and things to do….there is just so much that it seems hard to choose and difficult to know where to start……

    I look forward to hearing from you 🙂

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