The adventure begins with a short flight from Ottawa to Toronto, followed by a longgggg flight to Buenos Aires via Santiago. I leave Ottawa at 7pm and arrive in Buenos Aires at 3:25 pm the next day (1:25 pm Ottawa time)- 10,479 km and 18 1/2 hours later.
The next morning I’ll be southbound; en route to the departure point for my expedition. Another 3 1/2 hours and 2,348 km and I’ll arrive in Ushuaia, a city that bills itself as the “fin del mundo” (end of the world). Until recently, it was the southernmost city in the world at 54° 48′ 0″ S, but Puerto Williams, Chile, slightly farther south at 54° 56′ 0″ S , now has a large enough population to be called a city.
The Hotel Arakur, located high above the city in a nature preserve, will be my home for 2 nights after which I’ll be meeting up with my shipmates for a night at The Albatross Hotel in downtown Ushuaia, and then the true adventure begins!
The ship – Quark’s Ocean Diamond
My ship is Quark’s Ocean Diamond, one of the bigger expedition ships in Antarctica. She is 124.19 metres in length, has 5 decks and an ice-strengthened hull. She has 2 stabilizers and carries a maximum of 189 passengers and 144 crew. Hopefully her size and speed will translate into smoother sea days.
My home for the next 19 days is a single porthole cabin on Deck 3, mid-ship.
The Ship’s Itinerary
The ship will set sail from Ushuaia on December 20, heading north east to the Falkland Islands. After a day at sea, we’ll arrive at the British overseas territory (a status which is still disputed by Argentina) where I will see my first penguins.
After 2 days exploring the Falklands, we’ll head south east to the South Georgia Islands, also a British territory. This journey will take 2 days over what could possibly be very rough water. Our reward will be 4 days spent exploring this remote outpost and the large King penguin colonies.
2 more sea days will bring us to the Antarctic Peninsula, the 7th continent. Although it is the coldest, windiest and driest continent, it will be summer and average temperatures here in January average slightly below freezing. With any luck, the weather will cooperate and we’ll have several landings!
After 4 days on the Peninsula it will be time to set sail back to Ushuaia – the 2 day crossing of the dreaded Drake Passage. Will I experience the “Drake Lake” or the “Drake Shake”? Personally, I’m hoping for the “Drake Lake”, but if not, I’m well stocked with sea sickness meds.
Once back on land, it’s straight to the airport and back to Buenos Aires where I’ll be spending 2 nights in the “trendy” Palermo Soho neighbourhood. My plans include a photography tour on my full day there which will give me a great tour of the city and hopefully some amazing photographs.