Once in a lifetime
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Within our first day of getting to the continent of Antarctica and exploring it both by zodiac (a speed boat built for 10-15people) and by foot, we had managed to see Gentoo and Idele Penguins, Leopard, Waddle and Fur Seals and Minki, Humpback and Killer whales! The penguins were by far the cutest as they waddled along, oblivious to the 100 or so people in yellow coats that were taking photos of them. The younger ones in particular were also very curious and would often walk right up to you to check you out! As far as seals go, the Leopard Seal was my favourite! These things are vicious! They love to hunt the cute little penguins that we had been taking so many photos of! There are also a number of stories of people scuba diving and having a leopard seal offering to share a penguin with them that they have freshly killed! Now it is bad manners in a number of cultures to turn back food, however, I feel that a leopard seal may have particular troubles in understanding why you wouldn't want to chomp into a freshly killed penguin with him
Landscape and a swim
The Antarctic landscape served up views that were unlike anything that I had ever seen before! Upon arriving we sailed along the Lamaire Channel, which was basically a channel with huge snow capped mountains and glaciers poking right up and out of the ocean on either side of the boat. From here it only got better! Our first zodiac visit explored the beauties of Iceberg Alley and we then visited places like Paradise Bay and Deception Island. It didn’t matter where we were, there was always an amazing hike planned that went up to a viewpoint of the most stunning landscapes. For me the most amazing place that we visited was Paradise Bay. After first exploring this breathtaking area by zodiac and then by foot, our tour group decided it was time for a polar plunge in the most dense sea ice infested waters that we had come across during our expedition thus far! Now I had psyched myself up for this over the days leading up to the event, but I don’t think that anyone was quite ready for what was about to occur
For the first 5 days of the tour everything was going swell. Then something so tragic, so terrible, so ghastly happened… I came down with a terrible case of the man flu. A blocked up head, sore throat, runny nose, shivers, you name it, I had it!
The Drake Passage
This passage of water has two names… The Drake Lake and the Drake Shake… We experienced both! Now noone wants to hear about our smooth sailing on the way down to Antarctica, so I figure I may as well skip to the juicy part! Some might say that it resembled carrot juice, chunky in all of its’ glory! After experiencing the dreaded man flu for the previous couple of days, my head had no yet had the chance to clear up. Now this was a bad thing as it put my perception of equilibrium out, and as a result I did not take to kindly to the 5 or so meter swells that we were enduring. Fortunately I only vomited once, however, I did feel like shit for two days and barely ate anything in fear of throwing it right back up again! I would hate to have experienced a force 10 storm that they can quite often get down there.