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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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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Stories From Antarctica: Sensory Overload on the Southern Ocean

Sensory Overload on the Southern Ocean

As told by Scott M., A&K Guest

I’m a visual person, so before I went to Antarctica, I was always drawn to the colors and all the crazy blues I had seen in photos, how sculptural the icebergs and mountains were, and how these landscapes didn’t look like anything else. Now that I’ve just returned from Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falkland Islands, these incredible landscapes — that exceeded every expectation — are also what stay with me the most.

Part of that is just the sheer size of it all. On our luxury expedition cruise, we experienced landscapes like a crescendo that went from small to big. The Falklands are definitely hilly, but the slopes are gentle with rocky outcroppings. South Georgia Island is a full-on mountain range with these 7,000 to 8,000 feet peaks — they’re not small! — that seem to pop up from the ocean as if out of nowhere. Contrast that with Antarctica, which is made up almost entirely of glaciers (95 percent) and even more extreme and impressive with its ice.

antarctica-landscape-3

For me, though, nothing tops the small bay of Gold Harbour, which is situated at the east end of South Georgia. The island itself is full of these amazing glaciers. You see them coming out to the ocean, up on hills, retreating back up the mountain and even transforming the landscape with newly formed hills. Continue Reading ›

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Stories From Antarctica: Why You Should Go to Antarctica Now

Day_9_Port Charcot_Salpetriere Bay-102

Antarctica is unparalleled, otherworldly, and powerfully moving in a way that is almost impossible to describe. But we’re going to try. A&K is excited to introduce a series of first-hand stories — dispatches, moments, eye-openers — by our guests and Expedition Team about their experiences across the Southern Ocean.


As told by A&K climate change expert and marine biologist Dr. James McClintock from his current research site, Palmer Station in Antarctica

I’m in Antarctica now, and it has me thinking that there is no good reason that anyone who hasn’t been should put off a visit. It is the quintessential trip of a lifetime and I can say with great experience and confidence that it will change you — and in a better, enriching way.

For me as a marine biologist, Antarctica is always about the wildlife, which is remarkable and unreal in so many respects. Just last month, I was along the Antarctic Peninsula on a research expedition and we counted 65 humpback whales in just a few hours time. We saw many feeding and several breaching (leaping from the water). I had never seen such a large concentration of whales.

12 Jan Whale-6127These high populations of animals take some getting used to. One of my favorite experiences is going ashore and being welcomed by tens of thousands of Adélie or gentoo or chinstrap penguins, and discovering the penguins have not read the regulations for keeping their distance. I call it the Disney element; because the wildlife have no history of predation by large animals, they have no fear of us. It’s surreal. Whether for me as a scientist or an A&K guest making their first landing, it’s like being a kid in a candy store.

Continue Reading ›

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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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