Our Antarctica adventure began in the early morning of December 17, 2022, by driving to
Dulles Airport where we caught our flight to Miami, Florida. After a short layover, we boarded
our 9-hour flight from Miami to Buenos Aries Argentina. We arrived in Buenos Aries early
morning, claimed our baggage, and checked into our hotel.
The world cup was being played and everyone in Buenos Aires was celebrating. When Argentina
won the world cup, the city went crazy and the celebrations were everywhere. We spent the day
exploring Buenos Aires which was amazing in culture, food, and shopping.
The next leg of our trip began early the next morning when we flew from Buenos Aires
to Ushuaia Argentina which has the distinction of being the southernmost city in the world.
Ushuaia is one of two South American locations where you can board a cruise to Antarctica. We
spent a few hours exploring the city before boarding our ship. Our cruise ship was the
Ultramarine is operated by Quark Expeditions.
Our ship was specially built for sailing in ocean regions which may be ice covered. The rest of
the ship included two helicopters, zodiac rafts, sea kayaks, and paddleboards. The inside of the
ship had two restaurants, a spa, a gym, a library, two large areas for presentations, and a ready room
for us to put on our boots and life preservers.
We departed Ushuaia and proceeded through the Beagle channel which leads to the
Southern Ocean. Once we cleared the Beagle channel, we entered the Drake passage which is the
body of water between South America’s Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica.
The Drake passage is named after Sir Francis Drake who first sailed the area in 1616. The Drake passage is also known as the most turbulent ocean in the world. It took two days to sail across the Drake passage and we passed the time with Antarctic
briefings, marine biology, and wildlife presentations. We also spent time on the outer decks
looking for whales and other wildlife. We also were very lucky and the sea was calmer than usual making the cruise very enjoyable. On the third morning, we entered the Antarctic peninsula and stopped at our first area of
debarkation Palava island. After dressing we got ready to take our first zodiac raft ride to a large
chinstrap penguin colony. The penguins were so cute and made the funniest sounds as they
called out to their mates who were returning from finding food. The others stayed to sit on eggs
in their nests among the rocks. Floating in the bay there were several icebergs that would
break apart with very loud cracks and then splash into the water.
After spending the day with our penguin friends, we boarded our raft and made our way back to
the ship. Our ship proceeded to the next area we were set to explore. That afternoon we entered
an area where the snow-covered mountain ranges towered above us. This would be the first of
our three helicopter rides. I was allowed to ride in the copilot’s seat and the view was incredible.
The next day we sailed to another part of the Antarctic peninsula to visit a colony of Gentoo penguins. This was also our first landing on the continent of Antarctica. Around the coastal areas the temperature is in the 20’s and 30’s but the wind makes it feel much colder. The penguins don’t seem to mind the temperatures and jump in and out of the water to catch food.
Our next adventure was to take a helicopter to the top of a glacier. We had a mountaineering guide who taught us how to use snowshoes and then roped us all together about 6 feet apart. This way if one person fell into a crevasse the others would be able to stop the fall and pull them back to safety. Our guide lead us on a one-hour trek to a point that looked out over the ocean. Far in the distance, we could see our ship but for now, we were on the top of a snow-covered mountain with breathtaking views.
Once we had completed our trek back to the landing area our helicopter landed to pick us up and
fly us back to the ship. Once back onboard our ship we had some time to get ready for our next
adventure which would be camping out on the continent. We would have sleeping bags and mats
to insulate us from the cold but no tents.
We arrived to the camping location by zodiac raft and were immediately met by some
penguins who were curious to see who was coming to see them. We selected a place to lay our
mats down and put our sleeping bags down where we would spend the night. Did I mention that
it is daylight all the time!! We spent the night listening to the penguins’ chatter, humpback
whales taking breaths as they surfaced and the sharp cracking of icebergs breaking apart.
In the morning we packed everything up and said goodbye to the penguins who seemed
happy for us to give them back their solitude. While it wasn’t the best night’s sleep, I ever had it
was very cool to say I camped in Antarctica.
We came back to the ship had breakfast and got ready for another zodiac ride to do some
whale watching. Everywhere we looked there were humpback whales arching their backs, taking
deep breaths, and diving down to feed. We were lucky enough to have one whale who was very
curious about our raft and swam right under our raft.
After whale watching, we went out to another area with penguins and Weddle seals
who spend most of their days laying on the icebergs until they get hungry. They were very
relaxed and did not care about us cruising around in a zodiac raft and taking pictures. They are
adorable and I wanted to bring one home.
The next day was Christmas and the day started with another helicopter flight around the
mountains which were beautiful. We then got ready for the main event which was the Polar
Plunge. We all got out bathing suits on and the party started. The crew put a harness around our
waist with a line attached so that if someone could not get back to the ladder, they could be
pulled in. I jumped and even though it was cold it did not seem that bad. I climbed up the ladder
and met my mom who had just jumped also. What a way to celebrate Christmas!
That night we started our two-day cruise back to Ushuaia, Buenos Aires, and home. So
ends an adventure that I will never forget and a new appreciation for the beauty of the Antarctic
One thought on “My Antarctica Adventure By Makayla Ferrell”
Congratulations! A Huge Accomplishment to do.
When it comes to visiting All 7 Continents. They think it’s safe to say that less than 1 Million people that have ever existed in the history of mankind have Been to All 7 Continents.
Think about that and wrap your head around the fact that the Population Reference Bureau estimates that about 107 Billion people have ever lived. And only about 1 Million people have ever been to All 7 Continents.
There is a Group for those who have Traveled to All Seven Continents.
We have now stepped foot on ANTARCTICA and ALL 7 CONTINENTS
Gregg McKeown and Ann Estrada, Saddle Brook NJ have been to All 7 Continents
Check out Travel Goal Getter’s Continent Club