5 Best Experiences in Antarctica

Sailing in Antarctica on Bark Europa

Antarctica is one of the greatest adventures that anyone could have. It is the final frontier, the dream of a lifetime, and an incredible journey. It will remain a top five travel experience in my life. From sailing through 1,000m high mountains of ice that towered over the ship to taking a polar plunge, Antarctica was full of dreamland experiences that are better than your wildest imagination.  To share it all with you would take me months, but I’ve chosen five of my favorite experiences to show you and take you to Antarctica with me. Enjoy the ride. 

Number Five: Sledding at Neko Harbour

Sledding at Neko Harbour, Antarctica

At Neko Harbour, impressive glaciers of many shades of blue and white surrounded us. High cliffs of ice rose out of the sea and we heard ice crack as a huge chunk broke off and landed into the water creating a mini tsunami on the beach. Actually witnessing it was even more unbelievable than it sounds. Then, we climbed to an impressive view point that overlooked the harbour and we were given the chance to slid down. I wasn’t sure if they were serious at first. It was steep; it seemed too steep for sledding. One of the guests decided to give it a try and he slowly made his way down the cliff and through the snow. Safely, he reached the bottom. What I didn’t consider at the time was that the more people went, the more packed the snow and ice would get. By the time I went down the hill, it was slick. I flew down so quickly that I actually passed someone that went before me. Being in the middle of this awe-inspiring natural wilderness is indescribable but rushing by it at high speeds was even better! Wow!

Number Four: Hiking a Volcano on Deception Island
Deception Island, Antarctica

On latitude 63° south looms Deception Island, a ring-shaped island with an extensive internal crater. Bark Europa sailed through a small opening called Neptunes Bellows into the volcanic crater and dropped anchor. We were brought to the active volcano to hike the rim. The impressive panorama views were unworldly.

Number Three: First Penguin Encounter on Barrientos Island, One of the Aitcho Islands
Penguin Selfie on Barrientos Island, Antarctica I’ve taken a lot of selfies during my travels but this was the first with a penguin next to me. It’s a moment that will be ingrained in my memory for life. I wasn’t at a zoo or somewhere where the penguins were out of their natural environment. This was their home and I was a guest. From their reaction, I was a welcomed guest too. I didn’t want to move. I wanted the moment to last. I welled up with tears and smiled for the camera. It was more than I dreamed possible.

Number Two: Swimming in Antarctica
Swimming in Antarctica At Pendulum Cove, thermal currents rise and those who so wish may bathe in the geothermally warmed waters, but a polar dip wasn’t on my agenda. I’m naturally cold when others are warm. The thought of it made me shiver. Friends asked if I would go ashore and take photos so I prepared to land. Just before I got on the Zodiac, I decided to run down to my cabin and put on my bathing suit just in case. When we landed, everyone stood around second guessing their decision to swim. Snow and ice surrounded us. It was freezing. Without thinking or even talking to anyone, I started to take off my jacket and snow pants. How bad could it be? I walked toward the water and sat down in the waves. Everyone, including myself, was shocked. The sand was warm and as I wiggled my bottom, it warmed the water around me. It’s not too often that you have a chance to swim in Antarctica. I had to go for it. Others joined me and we giggled as looked at the bizarre situations we found ourselves in.

Number One: Dolphin Luminescence

I don’t have a photo to prove this one. It sounds like a tall tale told by a sailor. (Oh wait, is that what this is?) The most magical thing happened to us during our last watch of the voyage. The water was calm and the moon was full. It was 4 am and I was at the helm steering the ship. The winds were low and we were under sail barely moving north toward Argentina. I heard splashing in the water and realized the dolphins were back. Dolphins love to jump and play in the waves created by the ship and we’d seen hundreds of them during our trip. This scene is amazing enough but the bioluminescent-rich waters created a light around the dolphins. The dolphins’ path was illuminated like a green comet in the water. The ocean was glowing. Dozens of dolphins darted around the ship and everything was alive with magnificent blues and greens. Picture Life of Pi but with dolphins.  It was the most beautiful, natural sight I’ve seen and there were only a handful of us on deck to witness it. No one had a camera. No one took a photo. We just marveled at the phenomenon happening before our eyes.

This was life in Antarctica. Even fantastical movies can’t create something better.

Without Bark Europa, Whitecaps Marine, and Pilotur, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity wouldn’t have been possible.

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81 thoughts on “5 Best Experiences in Antarctica

  1. Nice-One of my favorite past times in Florida in my back yard is sitting and watching the Dolphins at play. They are so graceful and I love nature at its best! The Atlantic Ocean is full of wonderment and I have enjoyed it my entire life. How lucky am I? Cheryl

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      • Hi Lesley, Yes, Manatees are everywhere here and they are on our protected species list! It is illegal to harm or captivate any. They are also known as sea cows. They’re gentle sea mammals and at Sea World Orlando they have an exhibit dedicated to our Manatees. Also, adjacent to our beach front home to the south are acres of protected sand dunes for our baby sea turtles. Late at night I see them scamper to the ocean’s crest then scamper back to their nests, it is an awesome sight! On my main web site I have posted a Sequel- Parts I through V already about the Florida lifestyle and different areas. You might enjoy the sequels as I also included some personal insight into my life. https://clwiser.wordpress.com. Hope you enjoy if you have time to read them. Tomorrow the last Sequel will be posted before noon EST Part VI. Good to hear from you my friend! Cheryl

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  2. Just unbelievable and the pictures around that volcano look so surreal. Love all the moments and being able to swim in Antarctica is incredible. Love dolphins and glad that you have so many great memories to cherish ♥

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    • It was “cool” to swim in Antarctica but I wish I had of been more prepared for the extreme temperatures. It was difficult to balance the heat and cold and find a good medium. Overall, Antarctica was my favorite travel destination. What about you? Do you have a favorite travel spot?

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      • I was planning on sailing… maybe even getting on a research vessel for a month. I don’t think anything could top that experience. The other destinations topping my list are touristy in Europe and America. I’d want to visit Hong Kong for an experience too… But my bucket list is mostly populated with personal experiences – like writing novels and building a dream home, getting married – less adventurous but food for my soul 🙂

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  3. Are you lucky, or are you lucky?! 🙂 The number four panoramic view is definitely out of this world. Seems like you had an amazing time! Thanks for sharing the stunning photographs!

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    • I try not to use the word lucky. Sailing as part of the crew on Bark Europa made me feel like I earned the views and the experience, which is why it was the only way I’d consider going to Antarctica. Does that make sense? It’s the end of the world. I wanted to be part of getting there rather than relaxing.

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  4. My favorite sentence you have ever written is now “as I wiggled my bottom it warmed the sand around me” sounds totally like a little girl and her first time in a hot tub, so cute!

    Nothing better than a glissade down a glacier, I always tried to be last just so I could go fast. And you have a magic about you lady, as shown by being able to describe the glowing Dolphins so well. Thanks for going and sharing with us!

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  5. Awesome to the infinate power! If my chronological age were as young as my mind is, I’d be booking the same voyage, just based on your posts! What a trip, and I don’t mean in only the physical sense! The photo of the ship in the volcanic crater is remarkable, almost surreal. I applaud your documentation of this journey M:-)

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  6. Simply amazing! I love the colors that you’ve captured in your photos. It’s such a sight to see a world virtually untouched by development and civilization that is allowed to flourish naturally. I can only imagine how stunning it was to see in person. Absolutely breathtaking!

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  7. The landscape photos are like pieces of art. They look like dreamy paintings. They are seriously beautiful. You must print and hang one!

    The dolphin story is super cool. It’s probably best you didn’t get that one on film. Sometimes certain experiences are best kept in your memory banks.

    Your trip really sounds like the trip of a lifetime. And it seems like the kind of place if you went again you would have a totally different yet no less awesome experience.

    Thanks again for sharing.

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  8. I’m obsessed with taking photos but I’ve had some amazing moments when I’ve kept the camera away & just lived in the moment letting my eyes absorb the view. That dolphin experience sounds magical & ethereal. Such a special moment for you.

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  9. Wow, you’ve had some amazing experiences. Thanks so much for sharing them with us – I don’t get to vacation much these days, so it’s wonderful to have you take me there through your blog. Thank you 🙂

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  10. Oh beautiful. High on my bucket list. Your description of how you felt with the penguin is how I imagine I would react in that situation. What an amazing experience and to do it on a tall ship must have been out of this world. Thank you for sharing.

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  11. Loved the surreal quality of Deception Island. The rocks in front look like a cairn, or what we call ducks in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Also I would love the see the dolphins in the Luminescent water. You painted a beautiful picture with you words. –Curt

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  12. I can totally visualize what you said there with the dolphins and that every one there was just so amazed that not a single camera was brought up! I wouldn’t want to miss that moment either looking through a lens!

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  13. Pingback: Sunday Currently, vol. 55 - kcsaling.com

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