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Antarctic Voyage: To the End of the World and Beyond

Field report part 1: Tierra del Fuego • Beagle Channel • Drake Passage

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On the way to Antarctica

Experience report part 1:
To the end of the world and beyond.

From Ushuaia to the South Shetland Islands

1. Ahoy you landlubbers - Tierra del Fuego and the southernmost city in the world
2. On the High Seas - The Beagle Channel & The Infamous Drake Passage
3. Land in sight - Arrival at the South Shetland Islands

Experience report part 2:
The rugged beauty of South Shetland

Experience report part 3:
Romantic tryst with Antarctica

Experience report part 4:
Among penguins in South Georgia

AntarcticaAntarctic tripSouth Shetland & Antarctic Peninsula & South GeorgiaExpedition ship Sea Spirit 
• Field reports part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3/ Part 4

1. Tierra del Fuego and Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world

Our Antarctic journey begins at the very southern tip of Argentina, in Ushuaia. Ushuaia is the southernmost city on earth and is therefore affectionately referred to as the end of the world. It is also the perfect starting point for a trip to Antarctica. The city has more than 60.000 inhabitants, offers a wonderful mountain panorama and also a relaxed harbor atmosphere: An unusual contrast. We stroll along the waterfront and enjoy the view towards the Beagle Channel.

Of course we want to know what the end of the world has to offer. For this reason, we have planned a few days in Ushuaia before embarking on a cruise with the Sea Spirit towards Antarctica. Our host family offers a private car shuttle service so we can explore the area on our own without a tour. In terms of scenery, we liked the hikes to Laguna Esmeralda and the Vinciguerra glacier the best. The lagoon is also perfect as a half-day excursion and is less demanding in terms of sport. The hike to the edge of the glacier, on the other hand, includes a lot of incline and requires good fitness. In terms of landscape, both routes are a real pleasure.

The wild nature of Tierra del Fuego offers excursions and hikes for every taste: Treeless tundra with small stunted birches, fertile river valleys, moors, forests and treeless mountain landscapes alternate. In addition, turquoise blue lagoons, small ice caves and distant glacier edges are typical daily destinations. Sometimes coincidence rewards the effort of hiking: after a short shower, the first rays of sun draw a beautiful rainbow as a greeting and during our picnic break by the river we hold our breath as a herd of wild horses pass by the bank.

The weather is a bit moody, but overall in a friendly mood. After a trip to Puerto Amanza, we can guess that Ushuaia can also be different. On the way to Estancia Harberton we marvel at the crooked trees. These so-called flag trees are typical of the area and give an idea of ​​the weather conditions they regularly have to defy.

We enjoy the scenic highlights of Tierra del Fuego and still can't wait for our trip to Antarctica: Are there penguins in Ushuaia? There should be some of these funny fellows at the end of the world, right? Actually. Isla Martillo, a small offshore island very close to Ushuaia, is a breeding ground for penguins.

On a day trip with a boat trip to the island of Martillo we can observe the first penguins of our trip: Magellanic penguins, gentoo penguins and among them a king penguin. What if that's not a good omen? Our nature guide tells us that a king penguin pair has been breeding on the small penguin island for two years. Nice to know that the pretty animal is not lonely. Unfortunately, there hasn't been any offspring yet, but what isn't, can still be. We keep our fingers crossed for the two emigrants and are very happy about the unusual sighting.

In a few days we will see a colony with thousands upon thousands of king penguins, but we don't know that yet. We still cannot imagine this unimaginable amount of animal bodies even in our wildest dreams.

We treat ourselves to four days in Tierra del Fuego and explore the area around the southernmost city in the world. Not enough time to see everything, but enough time to learn to love this little slice of Patagonia. But this time we want to go further. Not only to the end of the world, but far beyond. Our destination is Antarctica.

Back to the overview of the experience report

AntarcticaAntarctic tripSouth Shetland & Antarctic Peninsula & South GeorgiaExpedition ship Sea Spirit 
• Field reports part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3/ Part 4

2. Beagle Channel & Drake Passage

In front of us is the Sea Spirit, an expedition ship from Poseidon Expeditions and our home for the next three weeks. Welcome on board. Everyone beams as they step off the shuttle bus. Around a hundred passengers will experience this Antarctic voyage.

From Ushuaia it goes through the Beagle Channel and through the infamous Drake Passage to the South Shetland Islands. The next stop – Antarctica personally. Landing, icebergs and zodiac rides. After that it goes on South Georgia, where king penguins and elephant seals are waiting for us. On the way back we will visit Falkland. Only in Buenos Aires, almost three weeks from today, did the country have us again. That's the plan.

How the trip actually goes will be decided primarily by the weather. It doesn't work without flexibility. This is the difference between a cruise to the Caribbean and an expedition to Antarctica. In the end, Mother Nature decides on the daily program.

We wait excitedly at the railing until the ship casts off. Then it's finally time to cast off! The adventure begins.

In the glow of the evening sun we sail through the Beagle Channel. Ushuaia recedes and we enjoy the passing coastal scenery of Chile and Argentina. A Magellanic penguin dives through the waves, small islands remain to our right and left and snow-capped mountain peaks stretch towards the clouds. The apparent contrast between the mountain panorama and the ocean fascinates us. But on our journey to the seventh continent, this unreal image should become even stronger. The mountains become lonelier and the ocean endless. We're on our way to the wild south.

For three days and nights we sail through nowhere on the high seas and nothing but glittering blue surrounds us. Sky and water stretch to infinity.

The horizon seems further away than ever before. And under our searching gaze, space and time seem to expand. Nothing but width. A dream for adventurers and poets.

But for passengers who are less enthusiastic about infinity, there is aboard the Sea Spirit no reason to be bored: interesting lectures by biologists, geologists, historians and ornithologists bring us closer to myths and facts about Antarctica. Nice conversations develop in the cozy lobby, a walk on deck and a lap on the exercise bike satisfy the urge to move. If you still have room between breakfast, lunch and dinner, you can treat yourself to something sweet at tea time. If you are looking for silence, you can relax in your cabin or retreat to the small library with a cappucino. Books about Shackleton's Antarctic expedition can also be found here. The perfect onboard reading for the first few days at sea.

To be on the safe side, most guests stock up on travel pills at reception - but the Drake Passage is good to us. Instead of high waves, only a slight swell awaits. The sea is tame and the crossing is unusually easy. Neptune is kind to us. Maybe because we under the flag of Poseidon drive, the Greek counterpart of the water god.

Some people are almost a little disappointed and were secretly looking forward to a wild boat trip. Others are glad that we remain unmolested in the usual showdown with Mother Nature. We glide along calmly. Accompanied by seabirds, joyful anticipation and a light breeze. In the evening, a beautiful sunset ends the day and a bath in the hot whirlpool under the starry sky transports everyday life far away.

Back to the overview of the experience report

AntarcticaAntarctic tripSouth Shetland & Antarctic Peninsula & South GeorgiaExpedition ship Sea Spirit 
• Field reports part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3/ Part 4

3. Land in sight - Arrival at the South Shetland Islands

Earlier than expected, the first dim outlines of the South Shetland Islands are emerging. land in sight! Lively hustle and bustle and joyful anticipation prevail on deck. Our expedition leader has informed us that we will land today. A bonus given the fantastic weather in the Drake Passage. We got there earlier than planned and can hardly believe our luck. This morning all passengers passed the biosecurity check. All the clothes we will wear, backpacks and camera bags have been checked to prevent us from bringing in non-local seeds, for example. Now we are ready and looking forward to our first landing. Our destination is Half-Moon Island and its chinstrap penguin colony.

Back to the overview of the experience report

Excited how to proceed?

Part 2 takes you into the rugged beauty of South Shetland

Tourists can also discover Antarctica on an expedition ship, for example on the Sea Spirit.
Explore the lonely kingdom of the cold with the AGE™ Antarctica & South Georgia Travel Guide.

AntarcticaAntarctic tripSouth Shetland & Antarctic Peninsula & South GeorgiaExpedition ship Sea Spirit 
• Field reports part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3/ Part 4

Enjoy the AGE™ Image Gallery: To the End of the World and Beyond.

(For a relaxed slide show in full format, simply click on one of the photos)

AntarcticaAntarctic tripSouth Shetland & Antarctic Peninsula & South GeorgiaExpedition ship Sea Spirit 
• Field reports part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3/ Part 4

This editorial contribution received external support
Disclosure: AGE™ were given discounted or gratuitous services from Poseidon Expeditions as part of the report. The content of the contribution remains unaffected. The press code applies.
Copyrights and Copyright
Texts and photos are protected by copyright. The copyright for this article in words and images lies entirely with AGE ™. All rights are reserved. Content for print / online media can be licensed on request.
The cruise ship Sea Spirit was perceived by AGE™ as a beautiful cruise ship with a pleasant size and special expedition routes and was therefore presented in the travel magazine. The experiences presented in the field report are based exclusively on true events. However, since nature cannot be planned, a similar experience cannot be guaranteed on a subsequent trip. Not even if you travel with the same provider. If our experience does not match your personal experience, we assume no liability. The content of the article has been carefully researched and is based on personal experience. However, if information is misleading or incorrect, we assume no liability. Furthermore, circumstances can change. AGE™ does not guarantee topicality or completeness.
Source reference for text research

On-site information and personal experience on an expedition cruise on the Sea Spirit from Ushuaia via the South Shetland Islands, Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and Falklands to Buenos Aires in March 2022. AGE™ stayed in a cabin with balcony on the sports deck.

Poseidon Expeditions (1999-2022), Home page of Poseidon Expeditions. Traveling to Antarctica [online] Retrieved 04.05.2022-XNUMX-XNUMX, from URL:

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