“How did people build a temple as big as Angkor Wat 1,000 years ago before machines?”
“Why does $1USD buy so much of the local money?”
“Why were Americans fighting in Vietnam?”
These were some of the many questions my children asked during our two weeks travelling through Vietnam and Cambodia with Intrepid. They also asked more unanswerable ones, like “Why would Pol Pot kill people just for being educated?” Or less perplexing, but equally tough to answer, “Why is everyone always beeping their horns?”
Following on from last week’s post, An Epic Antarctic Love Affair, Intrepid’s Jane Crouch shares more on the Shackleton Epic expedition and what it’s like to spot ‘nice-bergs’ and curious leopard seals at close range…
“The Polish base, Arctowski, on King George Island was the base for our 6 hardy intrepid adventurers whilst completing their final preparations, sea trialling the Alexandra Shackleton, and readying their gear and themselves for the journey ahead.
It’s hard to imagine a more adventurous, determined and passionate group of men than those who have just successfully completed the Shackleton Epic expedition. Not only did they risk their own lives to re-enact one of the greatest survival stories of all time, but they used traditional gear, endured comparable challenging conditions as Shackleton and his men, and did it with great spirit and fervour.
After a harrowing 3-day climb across South Georgia’s mountainous interior, expedition leader Tim Jarvis and mountaineer, Royal Marine Barry Gray were exhausted, severely weather beaten but elated to reach the old whaling station at Stromness, at 2245GMT, 10 February (0945 AEDT 11 February), the same location where Shackleton and his men raised the alarm that the crew of the Endurance needed rescue, almost 100 years ago. They were accompanied by fellow crew member, Paul Larsen, navigator aboard the Alexandra Shackleton replica boat, who provided support for the mountain crossing in contemporary gear.
While the Shackleton Epic team are waiting for a break in the weather so they can embark on their extraordinary re-enactment of the legendary expedition, the group of sponsors lucky enough to be taking part on the support vessel Australis have been loving their taste of Antarctica. Intrepid’s Jane Crouch has been on board and lets us in on the wonders of this great white continent but also its very real threat…
“Awesome, magnificent, gob-smacking Antarctica. There just doesn’t seem to be enough adjectives – whether taking in the minutiae of ice-crystals or the water repellence of seal fur, or the grand vistas of snow-laden jagged peaks and icy waters – Antarctica is extraordinarily beautiful and any words don’t seem to do adequate justice to the incredible majesty of the place.
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.
Intrepid’s Jane Crouch is poised to take part in a real adventure of a lifetime. Here’s her first Shackleton Epic post from Punta Arenas…
“As I take in the view across the Straits of Magellan, I ponder the explorers past and present that have passed through the region. Ferdinando Magellan sailed up the straits that now bear his name, during his quest to circumnavigate the globe nearly 500 years ago.
Many Antarctic explorers have used Punta Arenas as their staging point: De Gerlache from Belgium in 1897; Amundsen from Norway in 1897; Robert Scott from England in 1904; Sir Ernest Shackleton coordinated the rescue of his men from here in 1916; and in 2013 …Jane Crouch of Melbourne. Yes, lucky me, but something tells me I won’t be listed on the foreshore plaque, or immortalised in a statue as Magellan is around town!
“Star light, star bright, first stay I see tonight”… but what if you couldn’t see that star the next night? In this International Year of Astronomy there is a rally to recognise the wonder of stars. New Zealand is a mecca for stargazers and if you’ve travelled on our South Island Explorer and stayed in the heart of MacKenzie Country you’ll understand why. Intrepid’s Kim Bowden is amongst the many who are making a wish to protect our stars…
“We used to call it ‘Onemana Sky’ – we would lie on the scratchy grass outside our caravan and look at a starry night that curved dome-like right down to the horizon. We could follow the ghost-like trail of the Milky Way, spot the Southern Cross and the Pot (which is actually an upside-down Orion’s Belt), then trace together our own imagined constellations.
Would you like to try life as a nomad out in the wild landscapes of Mongolia? Intrepid travellers get to overnight in a traditional ger, and on a recent trip Tina Gerets’ group enjoyed Mongolian real life experiences that made them feel right at home…
“On the way back to Mongolia’s capital of Ulaanbaatar from our stay at the ger camp in Terelj National Park, we stopped at the summer camp of Lotus Children’s Centre.
During the warm months the kids stay in a ger camp, not unlike our previous night’s accommodation. About forty kids were staying there at the time, ranging from two to sixteen years old. The kids were excited to see us and we were invited to their little singing and dancing show. The girls dressed in adorable costumes and visibly enjoyed their dance routines. Two boys talked about their trip to Japan as part of cultural exchange. After the show, everyone was so excited that music kept playing and a spontaneous open-air dancing session broke out! Several hours were enjoyed playing and talking with those wonderful kids.