Simply hear the name and it evokes images of great expeditions, astounding landscapes, incredible wildlife and adventures as wild as they come. Antarctica is a Holy Grail for many of us in the adventure travel industry, so David Phillips didn’t need to be asked twice…
“I had wanted to visit Antarctica for as long as I could remember, so when the opportunity arose for me to join an expedition cruise to the ‘great white continent’, I jumped at the chance! Our days around the Antarctic Peninsula were filled scenes of awesome beauty. From high up on the decks of the ship we could look out upon glaciated mountains coated in the purest white snow, across to islands and coves that were home to thousands of penguins.
One of the real joys of Antarctica is encountering the wild marine animals and birds, and at such close range. The twice daily excursions aboard the fleet of small zodiacs gave us many chances to see wildlife in a way I had never encountered before, from watching leopard seals basking on icebergs to whales surfacing only a few metres from the boat. The zodiacs always approached animals at a respectful distance but sometimes a curious animal would swim towards us. On one occasion a 10 meter minke whale passed just beneath our zodiac.
Regular landings along the Peninsula gave us chance to get ashore and walk among the penguin rookeries. Whilst codes of conduct prohibit travellers from deliberately approaching the penguins, the penguins don’t know the rules and if you sit amongst them the chicks will often come to peck at your knees!
There are so many memories that I will cherish from my time in Antarctica such as catching and releasing a snow petrel that had flown into the ship one night, but perhaps the best moment of all for me happened as we sailed back across the Drake Passage. I stood at the stern of the ship and watched for two hours as a wandering albatross circled the ship, gliding past then dropping back to the wake and then gliding back up again.
I am certain that my Antarctic adventure will live with me for the rest of my days!”
Shackleton Epic – the re-creation of the historic expedition is happening now!
Environmentalist and explorer Tim Jarvis AM is undertaking this expedition to honour one of the greatest leadership and survival stories of all time; Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 expedition. You can follow their progress in Antarctica via the Shackleton Epic blog and Live Tracking at shackletonepic.com/blog.
* photo by Nick Jacobs – Intrepid Photography Competition