December and January bring the longest days of summer in Antarctica, when you can see penguin chicks hatching, seals sunbathing on ice floes and whales feeding in the nutrient-rich waters. With all this going on, Intrepid traveller Liz Grady gives you 5 good reasons why you won’t want to see the sun set of this adventure of a lifetime…
1 – 24hr sunlight – When I woke the first morning in Antarctica, peering through the window to see bright blue sky and a seal on an iceberg was enough to get me out of bed. Puzzled that no one else seemed to be up I tracked down a clock, only to realise it was 2am! It’s a challenge to wrap your mind around 24 hours of daylight, but it is a blessing when you discover how much there is to explore in this surreal environment.
2 – wildlife – I spied fur and leopard seals, the mighty albatross, snow petrels and skuas, adelie and chinstrap penguins, and the most spectacular wildlife event I have ever witnessed. Just metres away from me a pod of hungry killer whales chased a humpback whale and its calf under and around towering icebergs for over an hour. And all that was just in the first two days!
3 – out-of-this-world wilderness – Antarctica really is the last frontier. It is the world’s most mountainous continent and the dramatic landscape of this pristine wonderland will pierce your memory for years to come. Icebergs the size of skyscrapers, iridescent blue glaciers and blind-white shelves of pack ice… so surreal and spectacular is Antarctica that I spent much of my time there in disbelief that this unspoiled land was actually part of our planet.
4 – remote – Antarctica is about as remote as remote gets. With a population that averages 2500 across a continent that extends 14,245,000 square km, the chance of accidentally running into someone is pretty slim! And there’s something seriously special about that.
5 – the silence – In today’s frenetic, gadget-bleeping, computer beeping world, simple peace and quiet is becoming fairly elusive. The silence that enshrouds this mystical continent is only punctuated by whales blowing and provides an opportunity to still the mind that some yoga-devotees work their whole lives to achieve.
* photo by Simon Pugsley – Intrepid Photography Competition