Beyond the end of the World

Ushuaia used to have a sign in the harbour that said: “Welcome to the end of the World.” I always found this intriguing as I use the town as the starting point of the trips in stead of the end… So apparently Antarctica lays beyond the end of the world. Not completely untrue, I would say as it is a bit an other-worldly place. In contrast to the Arctic, where one can just fly with a regular airline to Longyearbyen at 78ºN, here you need two days sailing through the Drake before you see land again.

 

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First look at Antarctica: the South Shetlands

 

The Drake has the name of being the roughest sea in the world and I’ve seen her in many different shapes. From 12m high waves and 60 knots of wind to nearly flat and hardly any wind at all. And anything in between. This time the Drake was kind to us. Not completely flat, but not really something many people will get seasick from either. Towards the end of the second day, we encountered some ice and some fog, slowing us down a little. The fog wasn’t very thick and the sun could easily break through, creating a beautiful fogbow. A little later we managed to see the first bits of land, the South Shetland Islands, just north of the Antarctic Peninsula. The real start of a new Antarctic season!

Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.

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