Jaunted in Antarctica: Getting Schooled on The Ice
Two of the Lost Girls are sharing their trips with us this week. Amanda just returned from Ecuador while Holly ventured to Antarctica.
A trip to Antarctica is like the real-life version of Animal Planet: Where else in the world can you sail past seals sleeping on icebergs or plop down on a snowy beach where curious penguins climb right onto your lap? For most of our trip, wildlife spottings were of the warm and cuddly kind--until our zodiacs landed on Cuverville Island.
The rocky island is home to a rookery of gentoo penguins, so we settled on a hill overlooking the ocean to watch nature's show. Fluffy baby penguins frolicked in the icy waves and put on live performances akin to Happy Feet.
The movie moment quickly ended when an enormous leopard seal tore into an unsuspecting gentoo--throwing it up in the air and catching it with its teeth. It was an instant reminder that, despite the Hollywood-worthy scenery, we'd definitely landed in one of the wildest places on earth.
Even so, The Ice does have a small human presence in the form of scientific research stations. Our ship stopped by one such Ukrainian base, known as Vernadsky, where the hole in the ozone was first discovered.
Besides recording data on the South Pole's animals, weather and atmosphere, the all-male team also makes homemade vodka and sells it for $3 a shot at "The Bar at the Bottom of the World." A word of caution: The chasers taste even more deadly than the strong vodka. We followed our shots with lemon wedges sprinkled with coffee grinds.
The station is also the place where visitors can pick up souvenirs such as penguin embroidery (!), score an official Antarctica stamp in their passport, and get a first-hand glimpse at an authentic telescope-spectrophotomer. (If you're into gadgets, you'll love it.)
· Antarctica Travel coverage [Jaunted]
· Jaunted Field Trips [Jaunted]