Feb 16, 2017|
Quark Expeditions: Antarctica Shore Landings and things to do in Antarctica
Antarctica is such an awe-inspiring place to visit; it’s easy to forget about the activities available once you arrive. Depending on your interests and aptitude, there are a number of incredible ways to experience the seventh continent. On an expedition cruise, your daily itinerary operates around variables such as the weather, wildlife sightings, and whether you’re in the vicinity of, say, a tabular iceberg or a scientific research station. Your expedition staff does their best to maximize your time outside. My girlfriend and I visited Antarctica in November with Quark Expeditions. This was on one of the select voyages aboard the impressive Ocean Endeavor which include a full menu of activities. Because the weather was perfect the entire week, we went on Zodiac cruises twice every day. This meant we could be photographing a penguin colony in the morning, and hiking along a snow-swept ridge in the afternoon. These shore landings are included in the cost of your cruise cabin, as are other activities such as snowshoeing or the crazy-but-worth-it polar plunge. For an additional price, there are optional activities to choose from in place of a normal shore landing. Below are a few Antarctica Shore Landings that I recommend.
It’s not enough to watch it all from the bow of the ship; you came here to be in it. We camped under the stars during a supermoon, and the views were unbelievable. At night we could hear “Antarctic thunder”, the sound of a cornice breaking and its subsequent avalanche. The temporary nature of our campsite complied with IAATO guidelines, which meant we left nothing but footprints.
To feel small while exploring an icy world from sea level is one reason people visit Antarctica. All equipment is provided, and your guide will meet with your kayaking group to explain how everything works. Most optional activities only happen once, but if the weather is fare you could kayak up to four times during the expedition.
In an icy realm, moving along on skis makes sense. Imagine you’re in a small group, roped up to each other on a mountainside overlooking a bay fed by massive glaciers. All equipment and instructions are provided, and this activity is offered on select voyages early in the season.
Climbing to a viewpoint is a natural response to a vast landscape, and this is the best place in the world to do it. Aimed at those looking for more adventure, mountaineering has limited spaces and requires some experience.
This was my favorite Antarctica Shore Landing activity. We slowly, silently paddled past the precipitous rock face listening to the bird calls barely filling the immense space around us. Penguins torpedoed beneath us, deep blue mini icebergs hung in the balance, and we were able to fully appreciate the world’s largest wilderness area.
You’ve heard how the bulk of an iceberg is invisible. It’s true, and this is a chance to explore the rest of it. Not intended for beginners, some operators such as Oceanwide Expeditions, offer dives to 60ft. You may spot leopard seals, dogfish, lobster, jellyfish, penguins, or any number of odd creatures thriving in these waters rich with krill.