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I am a Denver-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Cruising to the Antarctic

I’m hesitant to discuss Antarctica as it’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been and an influx of an additional amount of tourism can do harm to this fragile environment. On the other hand though, it is the singular most spectacular place I’ve ever visited and one that any person should snatch the opportunity to experience. Never before and not since have I seen such spectacular beauty and wildlife that’s actually given me pause to consider a job there.

 

 
Antartica, the southern polar region of the world, is a place like none other. And for tourists and travelers alike it’s the epitome of what we strive for; it’s the last frontier, the seventh continent, that so many seek to find. I booked my trip on the spur of the moment, albeit a year out from departure, and made it the fourth continent I was to set foot on.

 

 
I booked a cruise holiday through Quark Expeditions and set sail from the lovely port city of Ushuaia, Argentina – the southernmost city in the world. Getting there was adventure enough for me as I had experienced very little in the way of international travel to this point. Still though, I was surprised that I had made it this far without getting lost and figured I should press my luck and see where it took me. Thankfully that was to the most beautiful I could ever imagine.
 
 

The sculpted ice bergs and glaciers, the rugged mountains with their out-of-the-way international research stations, and the amazing wildlife all took my breath away. Each day I had to pause and pinch myself as I lay in bed in the morning to actually make sure I was awake. It seemed improbable that I could be in such a place, but there I was laying in my cot on the M/V Orlova next to single travelers from Brazil and Japan. Simply put, it was unbelievable.
 
 

This was the first cruise I had been on and I had no idea what to expect. All of the books I had read about sailing were antiquated and gave rise to fears that I’d be in a swinging rope hammock with little in the way of privacy or personal convenience. Instead, I had a very comfortable room with meals that were better than most restaurants I’ve ever frequented. The only downfall was the eternal sunshine.
 
 

Groups of us would sit in the ship’s bar until the later hours of the night, when we weren’t trying to spot whales from the ship’s decks, having no idea what time it was and figured it was always safe to have another as it was still daylight out. After the third or fourth day of three hours of sleep because of this we figured there was no point in slowing down, so instead we made it a manner of habit. The bartender was young and enjoyed spending time with us as we made sure to include him in on our games and conversations instead of treating him as an employee. It was all very pleasant and relaxed and unlike anything I’ve experienced since.
 

Thankfully the craze from the March of the Penguins movie has caused prices to sky rocket, thus making it more difficult for travel. Still though, tourism numbers are drastically up from the 15,000 annual visitors I was given as an estimate when I made my venture. Olle Carlsson, the expedition leader for our cruise, said though that through knowledge comes awareness and the desire to preserve and protect such beautiful places as this; tourism is a benefit to such places as it gives personal attachment.
 

 

This certainly was the case for me as I attempt to follow the news from below with a desire to some day return and create new memories. The ones from my one trip will easily stay with me for the rest of my life as it’s a place like none other. Antarctica is home to boundless beauty, fantastic history and wildlife that is just as curious about us as we are of them. It’s a place I whole heartedly recommend to visit, but do so with a reservation that any foot print you leave can last more than a lifetime in a place so fragile as Antartica – a place special beyond measure.
 
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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] I’m asked about my favorite destination, I immediately answer Antarctica. I traveled there over a decade ago with Expedition Trips and had an experience unlike any other in my life. Its […]

  3. Looking Ahead to 2013 Travel | Jason's Travels - December 31, 2012

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