A journey to the bottom of the world
A larger ship than we were used to, the Multanovsky carried 46 passengers on its voyage from Ushuaia in Argentina – the most Southerly city in the world. It was a brutal two days crossing the vast and notoriously turbulent Drake’s Passage. Huge, foaming rollers marched relentlessly; causing roller-coaster swells as the ship pushed slowly south. Seeing icebergs for the first time we knew that we were about to enter calmer waters and receive a reprieve from the furious seas and the awful sea-sickness that many passengers suffered.
Antarctica was a magical place, the last bastion of isolation with extraordinary vistas of austere beauty. Snow-covered mountains tumbled into the sea and bizarrely sculpted icebergs floated in the icy waters of this most inhospitable region on earth. It was a challenging environment where a few hardy species survive against all odds. Enormous colonies of noisy penguins gave hours of amusement. We watched the gregarious and comically inquisitive birds going about their daily business with boundary disputes, nesting, courting, feeding their chicks, fighting off predators, swimming and diving. Fast and ferocious leopard seals plied the waters for a tasty snack, or a chance to puncture our inflatable boat! Enormous but playful whales followed the wake of the ship; putting on spectacular shows for the visitors. Creeping glaciers calved off enormous pieces of ice, causing tidal waves to wash up any small brash ice on the beach. This was nature at its most fundamental level and we were privileged strangers visiting the most unspoilt wilderness on the planet. Knowing that only 150,000 people have ever set foot on Antarctica (at that time), including the early explorers, scientists and tourists, made us feel very special and honoured!