Stories from Antarctica: My Favorite Heroes

Burton Shackleton's Grave

As told to by A&K Expedition Team Member and Antarctic History Lecturer Bob Burton

Bob BurtonWhen I was the director of the museum at South Georgia, I used to weed Ernest Shackleton’s grave. When we visit Grytviken with A&K guests and come ashore, we go out to the cemetery where he’s buried and I lead a toast to “The Boss.”

Shackleton first set off with his men to cross the Antarctic from South Georgia. When his ship ‘Endurance’ sank, he managed an amazing 16-day trip on one of its rescue boats (the ‘James Caird’) from Elephant Island across stormy seas back to South Georgia — and then traversed it, which was another notable feat. Eventually, he came back to South Georgia on another expedition in 1922 and died there. So, he’s very much connected to the island.

When Shackleton and his two companions were crossing South Georgia, it wasn’t far as the crow flies, but it was quite a circuitous route between the mountains. They completed it in 36 hours nonstop because they knew that if they stopped and rested, they wouldn’t wake up. On one occasion, Shackleton told them they would have a meal and a rest. After they ate, he let the other two fall asleep. After a few minutes, he woke them up and said, “Right, you’ve had a good long sleep.” They felt better and off they went. 

'Endurance'

I used to say that my hero was Shackleton because I’ve spent a lot of time on South Georgia and I’ve studied his expeditions. But as Shackleton became everyone’s hero over the last couple of decades, I decided I needed a new hero. Continue Reading ›

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Stories from Antarctica: Nothing Compares to This Family Vacation

Antarctica Family Zodiac

As told by A&K guest David Jacobson

Jacobson Family in AntarcticaWhen our boys were seven and nine, my wife and I took them on a seven-month trip around the world and visited 21 countries and six different continents. Antarctica was the only one we didn’t hit. We recently got back from A&K’s Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falkland Islands with our now 13- and 16-year old boys and consider it one of our best trips ever — in the top two to three for sure.

The driving force to go wasn’t really about Antarctica being our seventh continent, but more about the chance to experience the novelty and uniqueness of this place that we imagined in our minds — and that proved to be true. Antarctica is so different than anywhere else we’ve been. None of us had seen an iceberg or a penguin up close. And then we went and saw penguins, and realized the experience is so much richer than that. It reminded me of the plains of Africa in that it’s one of those places that make you feel like you’ve punched through to an alternate reality.

Whale Sighting from Zodiac

One of the best moments happened on New Year’s Day, when we were approaching the Antarctic Peninsula on a Zodiac and came across five or six humpback whales. They were bubble-net feeding and, I mean, just right there in front of us. Our naturalist driver turned off the motor so we could watch and listen as they blew bubbles and jumped up. It was a bright sunny day, so we could see them clearly, plus we could hear everything. It was an amazing, full-sensory experience. Continue Reading ›

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The Top Five Reasons to Visit South Georgia

Top Five Reasons to Visit South Georgia

From unique scenic beauty to a wealth of biological diversity, South Georgia is a can’t-miss stop on any Antarctic journey, and a compelling destination all its own.

It's the land of a millions kings

1. It’s the land of a million kings

King penguins are the largest penguin species apart from emperors, and just one of these colorful, three-foot-tall birds is a memorable sight. Imagine, then, setting food amid a colony of hundreds of thousands of king penguins gathered at Salisbury Plain or Gold Harbor, their cries audible for miles around.


You'll see a cornucopia of species

2. You’ll see a cornucopia of species

When people think of wildlife in the Antarctic region, they usually think penguins and not much else. South Georgia is actually one of the most biodiverse places on earth, a result of its large size and isolation from the mainland, and visitors can count on seeing a tremendous variety of mammals and birdlife, including the nesting wandering albatross. Continue Reading ›

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Stories from Antarctica: A Birder’s Paradise

King Penguins

As told by A&K Naturalist Guide and ornithology buff, Brent HoustonBrent Houston

Some of my favorite animals on earth are easily seen in Antarctica, especially if you visit the very beautiful and remote island of South Georgia and the warmer, wildlife-packed Falkland Islands. From the bright-white snow petrel that is unmistakable among the pack ice, to the predatory brown and south polar skuas — those marauders of the penguin colonies — the flying seabirds we encounter as we cross the Drake Passage rival the more popular show-stopping penguins of Antarctica for their beauty, grace and adaptability.

Speaking of penguins, the Adélie is my absolute favorite, because what they lack in colorful plumage, they make up for in comical displays, vocalizations and general goofiness. The funniest thing is to watch them gathering pebbles for their nests, especially when they steal each other’s pebbles at the same time. This goes on throughout the breeding season and is a source of endless entertainment.

Adelie Penguins

Adélies are also fun to watch when entering the water. One or two by themselves do not want to go in for fear of a leopard seal, which can eat up to ten penguins a day. So, they wait until there is a group and then they start calling in a frenzy, pushing each other from behind and — all at once — go tumbling into the sea. I always say it takes ten Adélie penguins to make a decision. Continue Reading ›

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Video: Discover the White Continent in Style on a Luxury Antarctica Cruise

Cruise to Antarctica on an unforgettable voyage, learning about its unique climate and abundant wildlife from an award-winning expedition team aboard exclusively chartered, all-balcony ‘Le Lyrial.’ Offering unforgettable adventure for every type of traveller, this singular voyage benefits from our 200 successful, inspiring polar expeditions past, as well as expertly crafted itineraries, the highest crew and guide-to-guest ratios and unmatched expertise in topics ranging from marine biology to ornithology, climate change and history.

To learn more about cruising on a once-in-a-lifetime Antarctica luxury cruise, click here.

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8 Incredible Whales and Seals of Antarctica

8 Amazing Whales and Seals of Antarctica

The Incredible World Beneath You in Antarctica

Whether on land or beneath the waves, the wildlife in Antarctica is astounding in its variety. Meet some species of whales and seals you’re likely to encounter on your voyage.

Orca Whales

Orcas

Also known as killer whales, orcas are not really whales at all but the largest member of the dolphin family — and also its most powerful carnivore. Known for their intelligent, collaborative hunting efforts, pods of orcas can be seen swimming along Antarctic coasts in search of prey, each easily distinguished by its jet-black top and the wide, white patches behind its eyes. Continue Reading ›

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Ten Reasons to Visit Antarctica Now

Ten Reasons to Visit Antarctica Now

Penguins, icebergs, a top-notch Expedition Team — there are countless reasons why an Antarctica voyage is a true trip of a lifetime. Here are ten of our favorites.

Penguins, Penguins, and more penguins

1. Penguins, penguins, and more penguins

The unofficial ambassadors of Antarctica, penguins come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from the small black-and-white Adélie to the orange-trimmed King, both found exclusively in the Antarctic region. Penguins have no innate fear of humans and visitors often find themselves approached by the curious birds.


Every picture is postcard-worthy

2. Every picture is postcard-worthy

If you have a passion for photographing wildlife and spectacular scenery, Antarctica is the place for you. You’ll see animals you won’t find anywhere else, along with landscapes like the Lemaire Channel, fondly known as “Kodak Alley” for the incredible photo opportunities it affords. All the while, an onboard Photo Coach is at hand to help you capture that perfect shot. Continue Reading ›

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