29 reasons why you should holiday in Antarctica
An Indian on a mission to travel the planet checks “seventh heaven” off his bucket list and presents ways you could too…brunch Updated: Aug 23, 2017 19:33 IST
1. How often are you likely to start your vacation with a chartered flight to the southern-most city in the world (Ushuaia, Argentina), knowing that all the 150 passengers on this flight will be your co-expeditioners for the next 10 days?
2. Marvel at how Earth’s seventh continent seems like a totally different planet.
3. Chuckle over how your holiday feels like a boot camp, with 7am wake-up calls and 8am arrivals at the mudroom to board a Zodiac (an inflatable boat) for the water-cruising and island-landing expeditions.
4. Be aware that the exotic wild creatures in their own natural habitat are as fascinated by you as you are by them. (If you’ve never been poked by a penguin, you really haven’t understood what curiosity is.)
5. Put together lots of anecdotes about crossing the Drake Passage from South America to Antarctica. This is like a natural rollercoaster ride over and between 11-metre-high waves. This lasts for two days and makes your cruise beds double as swings!
6. Make travel friends like no other – from an eight-year-old kid who is a part of a climate change study group team, to an 80-year-old man who still loves to explore.
7. Dive into ice-cold water for the ritual polar plunge, and swim with whales.
8. Know that even vegetarians are served delicious food, and not just bread, pasta, and salad. In fact, there’s a special all-Indians sailing scheduled for this December (www.thewhitecontinent.com) with Chef Atul Kochhar’s cooking, Bollywood-themed nights and Indian food.
9. Smile when you think of the memories you’ll have of an on-deck BBQ party, surrounded by icebergs and snow-covered mountains!
10. Kayak in the calm sea, and enjoy the showers from the whales’ blowholes.
11. Enjoy the adventure of being on a boat that jumps on ice sheets to break them.
12. Pray that your Zodiac is not bitten through by a seal or you’ll have to rush back to the ship to disembark.
13. Laugh hysterically thinking about your summer wear in India as you bundle up in three to five layers of clothing, complete with double socks and waterproof boots, all adding up to your own body weight!
14. Appreciate the sun as you never do when you’re home: you’ll be lucky to see it even twice over your whole trip. But when you do, you’ll forget to blink as you try to take in all the beauty. And the sunsets over crystal clear water, floating icebergs, and snow-covered mountains? Spectacular!
15.You’ll be surrounded by penguins! Some (the species called macaroni) even have yellow feathers! Oh, happy feet.
16. Don’t forget to enjoy the seals, sun-bathing on sheets of ice, totally ignoring the predatory whales lurking in the water.
17. Learn patience (you’ll have to), silently holding your camera ready for an action shot of three different species of whales, and their water ballets.
18. Discover how easy it is to live without technology as there are no cellphone towers in Antarctica.
19. Contemplate camping and hiking in the icy wastes.
20. Learn how lovely it is to live a pollution-free existence.
21. Bring back thousands of picture-perfect photos!
22. Paddleboat standing up, enjoying crystal clear polar water, between whales on one side and the mountains on the other.
23. Gape at how artistic the icebergs and ice formations are, mimicking everything from an arch to a tower to a huge wall.
24. Think about the effects of climate change. Even this pristine, uninhabited-by-humans land now suffers from avalanches, larger-than-usual icebergs pointing to the melting of the pole, and the changing behaviour of the penguins.
25. Add to your knowledge about whales, seals, penguins, photography, exploration, climate change, and so on via the experts on the ship.
26. Dress up for the captain’s cocktail party, and the maitre-d’s welcome/farewell dinners, and enjoy watching movies in the lounge. (Whales outside the window, Jaws inside.)
27. Learn to live without plans, ready to put on your parka and report to the deck at a moment’s notice to see something spectacular that the ship’s crew has just spotted.
28. See research stations and military posts of several countries, all of whom are waiting for the Antarctica Treaty to expire so they can claim the land as their own. This is the only human civilisation in Antarctica.
29. Remember these experiences when you’re back, and become an ambassador of environment protection, pledging to preserve, respect and appreciate Mother Nature!
- When in Antarctica, make sure to check out the Terra Nova Hut, Shackleton’s Hut and the Christ Church Cathedral (Source: Lonely Planet)
- Adventure lovers can book extreme ski experiences with Ski Antarctica and Ice Trek, both of which specialise in South Pole skiing expeditions (Source: Conde Nast Traveler)
- Suit up to take a trip around the Cierva Cove, on board the Zodiac Cruise (Source: Daily Mail)
The author is a finance professional based in New York. He is enthusiastic about travel and has set sights on travelling to 50 countries in the near future. Follow him on Instagram at @arvinjain
From HT Brunch, June 11, 2017
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First Published: Jun 10, 2017 23:57 IST