Imagine flying to the most Southern tip of South America, Ushuaia, and then boarding a Russian Research Vessel named the Akademic Ioffe along with 50 other passengers who all share the same dream as you. TO VISIT ANTARCTICA! A real adventure, your very own cabin, your very own dry suit, your very own Kayak, with the possibility of kayaking with some of the biggest mammals on Earth, at the bottom of the world…
To reach the Antarctic Peninsula you have to cross the treacherous Drake Passage..some 1000 nautical miles from Ushuaia.. During my voyage we had 40 foot waves crashing against the bow. It was extremely exciting, for those who don’t suffer from seasickness- I did not and so enjoyed viewing the majestic wandering albatrosses soaring and swooping along the side the ship…the saying goes if a sailor killed or harmed an albatross…woe betide them!
After 2 and a half days without sight of land, we arrived at the Antarctic Penisula..the sun was shining through our port holes and Minke Whales greeted us by flashing their tails and blowing icey sea water through their blow holes. The ship broke through thin sea ice, we cruised past penguins and seals sunbathing on icebergs. Words cannot describe the beauty and magic of the landscape. UNREAL.
During the third day of the Expedition we were approached by the magnificent Humpback, whilst in our 3 metre orange Sea Kayaks…If you want to do extreme kayaking get yourself to the Gerlache Straite! 6 beautiful, humungous whales played with us in the ocean for around three hours. The sea was like a millpond, therefore we could see these giants swimming towards us, with the fins gently gliding through the water. First thought, I was absolutely terrified! Oh My GOD. They range from 12 to 16 metres and weigh up 36000KILOS! Bearing in mind a kayak is 3 metres…I felt pretty vulnerable! BUT, in fact it was a totally magical, awe inspiring experience, that now when I reflect back I cannot believe I was lucky enough to paddle with these prehistoric creatures. They were completely and utterly enchanting, at one point a HumpBack swam beneath my Kayak, turned and looked me straight in the eye and I felt completely connected with it..