Can you recall the stillness after the storm? Close your eyes and think of the night when the wind and rain kept banging on the windows but the morning you could hear the sound of nothingness. Everything lay still!
Exactly how you feel when we enter the calm waters of Antarctica Peninsula, sailing through gently floating giants of ice after two full nights of bouncing up and down while crossing the infamous Drake Passage. The excitement of Antarctica starts building straight after you confirm the trip but it’s only when you see the first floating icebergs that it hits you what is in store for you or maybe not. It's actually the first spotting of Penguins or no maybe the first sighting of Humpback whales diving into oblivion. As you can see, it is extremely difficult to point out when it hits you the most because every time you look out of your window you see something incredible. Nothing can prepare you for the experience. I still remember the morning after when our captain called out, “Welcome to Antarctica. Those of us who wish to see their first glimpse of icebergs please go to the front deck of the ship”.
I was in the Antarctic waters at the beginning of 2019, oblivious to the Covid madness which was about to unfold. Untouched by mankind a whole planet of solid ice and blue skies and some of the most beautiful marine life which you would only find in Antarctica outside of captivity.
What did I see in Antarctica?
During our trip we got to stop at most of the designated islands as most of the ice had melted by March and the corridors blocking the gateways were open to the invading ships. While the stark colours didn’t leave us as we sailed from one island to another, every island offers its own opportunity of spotting marine life and the giant ice sculptures.
Icebergs: We keep hearing in the news that so and so ice shelves separated from Antarctica mainland, while the big ones capture our attention there are hundreds of small ones which keep separating and they float around. Pieces as tall as skyscrapers to tiny beautiful pieces of art, almost like carved out by some renowned artisan.
I also captured this one on my trip, from an angle it just seemed like a whale with its flukes standing tall.
Then there are those where you can see the bottom part of it and as we have learned more than 90% of the iceberg is underwater. It is totally incredible to witness these ice pieces floating around, it's almost like they have life and are roaming around in their home - carefree and strong.
One of the many designs that nature makes for us to look at and admire what all it is capable of without any machines or tools. While it’s hard to figure out the dimension of things in Antarctica since everything is so wide and open and nothing that we know is out there to give a perspective of how small or big things are - the below whole seemed big enough for a Fighter Jet to pass through.
The Marine Life
This is a special treat to your eyes. Life in Antarctica compared to other continents is scarce and there are only a few species that we get to spot. Even those few we spot it takes our breath away. Penguins enjoying themselves in the giant waters, humpbacks playing and chilling as if they have nowhere to go or nothing else to do. The Seals which after getting their tummy full just lay still, totally unbothered by the zodiacs or pedestrians walking past. Mink Whales, Orcas and Antarctica Dolphins buzzing with energy and speed. After a point it would be a common sight to have breakfast while a humpback is doing her acrobat out in the open ocean or the penguin families teaching their young ones to swim.
Below is a picture of a mother and her baby humpback just chilling in the waters before they start their journey north.
Not far from us we saw another family of humpbacks playing and we could capture the occasional shots of their flukes as they dive down.
Penguins, Penguins and More Penguins
There are various breeds of penguins you get to spot while on your trip. Depending on the time of the month and colonies visited you get to see the Adele Penguins, Chinstraps which literally looks like chin strap across their face and of course if you are visiting the parts of Antarctica where the Emperor or the King Penguin colonies are located then you get to see the largest of the penguins.
Most of the seals we saw were chilling on the floating ice, in that same very position you see below. Our guides said they were relaxing after a belly full of yummy penguins. I know it sounds harsh but this is a sustainable ecosystem unlike those we find up north.
Rohan is our Chief Explorer as we like to call him, he is the founder of UnWild Planet and is a full-time dad and traveler. Over the years, he has helped us with his knowledge and experience of offbeat destinations and gets involved in planning each and every adventure for UnWild Planet to make it a truly unique experience. Instagram handle @rohan.prakash or email email@example.com