In 2010 I flew out to Ushuaia the Southern most city in the World and met up with two complete strangers, Rudy from Belgium and Peter from Australia and we trekked and camped around Patagonia crossing into Chile and back into Argentina. We trekked up mountains and ice trekked across ice shelves and into ice caves; it was fantastic!!!
We then travelled back to Ushuaia and boarded the M/S Expedition to head out of the famous Beagle Channel across the dreaded Drakes Passage out to Antarctica!!!! The object was to explore as much of the wildlife as was possible and to cross the Antarctic Circle which we did at 66°33' S.
Here is an extract of my diary to illustrate the roughness of the seas over the notorious Drakes passage:
Tuesday 2nd March 2010 - Approaching Drakes Passage
"A terrible night followed as we hit Drakes passage at around 01:20am and the ship was hurled about the waves like a cork, it was very difficult staying on the bunk and I got thrown off mine 4 times throughout the night. In the end I tried to sleep with one hand gripped firmly on the edge of the bunk, however as soon as sleep did take over and my grip relaxed off I fell"
Wednesday 3rd March 2010 – Crossing Drakes Passage
"Dreadful, just dreadful, we are still rocking against huge waves and I can hear plates smashing downstairs.
I can only describe this as an inescapable living hell!!!! The hours are so long and I just want this to pass, I cannot move off my bunk as I am so sick, but just lay flat here as I write this.
We are being blown off course and are now heading WEST instead of SOUTH!"
I wrote that bit of diary whilst laying flat on my bunk, the biro would stop working periodically as I wrote holding it upside down, however the seasickness that I felt would not allow me to write in any other position than that, the rough sea crossing lasted for 3 days due to being blown off course.
Once through the passage the seas calmed down and I got up off my bunk and went out of the cabin, down the long hallway and out onto deck in my pyjamas with my waterproof downy jacket thrown over and wearing wellington boots. As I stepped outside for the first time it was just getting light on that early misty morning and I slipped slightly as there were pieces of ice on the wet deck floor. Looking up I saw that it was snowing, the sky was grey and a huge block of ice which looked like a giant glacier mint sailed by the M/S expedition or should I say we sailed past it. This first sighting of ice was quite magical and I was alone up there with not a soul around, just how I tend to like it.
The Russian Ice Navigator would now have to do us proud as we were approaching more ice!
Theres much more to say here, to be added shortly.....
Th wildlife encountered in the Antarctic includes: Gentoo penguins, Adelie penguins, Chin Strap Penguins, Weddel seals, crab eater deals, Leopard seals, Fur seals, Albatross birds, Cape Petrols, Skua birds, Cormorants, Killer Whales, Right Wing Whales and Humpback Whales.
Update for 2012: In the process of planning a trip to Vietnam on a special expedition/project for April and in November going to the Amazon for 3 months to do some research/photography on insects of the rainforest.