I crossed the Antarctic circle!

Trip Start Aug 17, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Antarctica  ,
Friday, March 14, 2014

I had my alarm set in time for the sunrise so i woke up to see what was happening but the sunrise today was no good so i crawled back into bed to get some shut eye for another hour or so before we got called in for brekky. There is a great viewing area from the dining room, which always provides fantastic vistas for whale watching. I ran outside with my camera and a serious amount of clothing and was greeted by 3 humpbacks breaching, tail slapping, spy hopping and playing around. The smallest of the 3 whales was very curious and came right next to the starbord side of the boat and breached almost 100% of the way out of the water literally 5 metres away from me. This experience continued for another 30 minutes or so, qnd would have no doubtedly continued had we stayed to watch but we had places to be.

At 10am we crossed the antarctic circle at 66○ 33' 44"S which was of course cause for celebration. This was one of the highlight moments on the itinerary and something that i personally really wanted to cross off the list. This led to free champagne and started an early morning party out on the deck. The entire boat got together with their drinks for a photo on the outside bow. It was a great moment, and everyone kicked on drinking for a little while longer. The festivities slowed when the on board historian, scott, gave a lecture about the race to the south pole between amundsen (dutch) and scott (british) and the stories behind these incredible adventures. While the lecture was happening, we were relocating to a place called detaille island to visit a research station but there was too much wind and ice when we arrived that it would have been silly to try and penetrate through. This meant we had to resort to evasive tactics so the Captain turned the ship and realised there was a bay just to the north so we pulled in. Given the conditioned we had battled 10 minutes before, this area was incredibly sheltered.

To be safe, john, our expedition leader launched a scout zodiak to assess the ice and wind conditions, and half an hour later, returned with great news. An island was found, which people speculated were previously undiscovered, but hour and hours later turned out to be called the mist islands. It was confirmed, however that no other ship had ever been to this area.

The shelter meant it was calm enough for a paddle so we got ourselves ready. keep in mind we are still below the antarctic circle when we were kayaking, and not only had our kayak guides never paddled below the circle, we were told that due to the frequent erratic weather, fewer than 1000 people had ever done what we were doing right now. What an incredible thing to be able to say that ive done. We navigated our kayaks through the monstrous icebergs, some sitting above 30m out of the sea. Our kayak guides said they have never seen icebergs to this magnitude in their lives. Bear in mind that 70-90% of the ice is underwater, So what we were seeing is only a minute amount of the full scale. We paddled over to the mist islands and were greeted by our second species of penguin; the adelie penguin. We circumnavigated one of the islands and took in the views of the penguins and a large number of crabeater and weddell seals chilling out on icebergs looking at us very inquisitively.

After our circumnavigation we made our way through what we nicknamed Iceberg valley, it was the most amazing piece of scenery i have ever seen in my life. Thousands and thousands of towering icebergs, crystal clear water, stunning mountains and wildlife. It was here i witnessed the single most incredible piece of raw nature i have ever seen. An iceberg probably 100m long by 50 metes wide and who knows how deep, calved off a piece of ice about the size of a bus. The berg tipped and teetered until it decided that it was time for it to roll over. Only 5 of us witnessed the event amd every single one of us was left speechless; including 2 guides.

We paddled back to the ship still in awe of what we just saw and then climbed on board to be greeted by another stunning antarctic sunset. Dinner came around and again in prime viewing area for whale watching, we spotted another 10 or so humpbacks playing around in front of the boat

After dinner entertainment and drinks were provided by the on board tongue in cheek musician, belinda, and i tuckered into my bottle of champagne that i had previously won. It was here that i began talking to our assistant expedition leader, lauren, who all but convinced me to join them on the same boat on their expedition to the arctic to see some polar bears. One look at her photos and i was sold.
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Lauren on

:) Was wondering when I'd get a mention!

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