Back on solid ground…

Our voyage has ended. Sniffle. I´m back in Ushuaia now. It´s so hard to believe that the 11-day voyage has come and gone so quickly. However, let me just say that it was 100% worth it all — all the days of travel to get down to the ¨end of the world¨, then the two-and-a-half days (both ways) across the most treacherous ocean  in the world, the Drake Passage. It´s been quite an experience. However, I have to say that I will not only remember all the wonderful animal sightings, snow hikes to the tops of volcanoes and other peaks, and zodiak landings… but also all the wonderful people I met along the way. They pretty much made the trip for me. I feel very fortunate to have been on this particular expedition with these particular individuals. The crew and passengers were all such exceptional people. I doubt I will ever forget them.

Each day was full of activities — either lectures on various wildlife or historical topics (when we were at sea), or making zodiak trips at various bays, and landing on the ¨white continent¨not once but TWICE! That was very cool.

I still feel like I am moving a little and it gives me slight nausea now, sitting here at this Ushuaia computer. However, I can live with it. Didn´t experience any seasickness on the ship thanks to my brilliant scopolamine patches! Love them!!!  I just don´t quite have my land legs again yet, I guess. However, our passage through the Drake LAKE (because it was so calm on our way back) was quite good. I managed to use my patch only twice — going to Antarctica and returning to Ushuaia — and it worked great. Really helped that one night when we were heading to the South Shetland Islands and the waters were unexpectedly rough.

We were able to make pretty much all of the landings except one (the wind made the waters too rough to land at Turret Point). All our landings were very interesting and different wildlife could be found at each. My wildlife sightings list is long, but here are just some of the highlights:

Elephant seals, Leopard seals (one of which spent about 1 hour with us, attacking and exploring our zodiak; there were also a mom and pup we watched in one of the harbours for some time — a very rare sighting indeed!), Weddell seals, Fur seals, and Crabeater seals.

Gentoo, Adelie, Chinstrap, Rockhopper, Magallanic (in Ushuaia), and KING penguins — it was amazing that we actually saw one lone and very beautiful King penguin at one of our landings. They are typically only seen in South Georgia, so we were pretty lucky.

Royal albatross, grey-headed albatross, black-browed albatross, giant petrels, pintado or cape petrels, storm petrels, and gobs of other cool birds like Skuas, Antarctic terns, and blue-eyed shags (cormorants)

Humpback whales, Minke whales, Fin whales, Orcas, and Hourglass dolphins. This was a real thrill as I thought these wouldn´t be spotted until January or February.

So, the voyage was quite successful. We had our final evening dinner together last night and hopefully some of us will stay in touch.

It´s been nice getting to know everyone on our ship. I had a great cabin mate and in fact, we are on the same flight back to B.A. tonight. So, we are hanging out in Ushuaia now, at this internet cafe, along with another very cool woman from London who is half English and half Chilean and speaks perfect Espanol…. She is a great help as you can imagine. So, for today, it´s the three of us chicks in Ushuaia.

So, I´m heading back to Buenos Aires tonight and will see a few more things there before I fly home the night of Dec. 21. Polar Star was one comfortable ship, but I can´t help but think about sleeping in my own bed again in just about three more days! : >

Explore posts in the same categories: Antarctica & Argentina, My Travels

2 Comments on “Back on solid ground…”

  1. Mike Says:

    Can’t believe you saw so many animals! Sounds amazing. Have always wanted to see elephant seals. Did you by chance see any emperor penguins? I’ve always wanted to see those too – but maybe they’re not in the part of Antarctica you went to? Also – I remember when I went on a cruise a few years ago with the fam it took me a few days to stop feeling like I was still “rocking on a boat.”

  2. Richard Says:

    Hi Laurel,
    Looks like you had a great vacation and saw an amazing variety of animals. Good news that you didn’t get seasick and had so many successful short stops and landings. Thanks for writing the detailed reports so we home-bodies could experience a bit of the travel excitement.

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