Antarctica is an out of this world destination with its rich wildlife and impressive landscapes. The territory is also the coveted seventh continent for travelers and its unique status is regulated by the Antarctic Treaty Systems, which I also found interesting.

I've thought of visiting Antarctica for a long time. This trip ended up being one of the most challenging to organize and took a few years of planning.

I went with Antarrply Expeditions which did a fantastic job and sailed on their ship, MV Ushuaia. The expedition started in the Argentinian port city of Ushuaia and navigated the infamous Drake Passage for two and a half days. This is considered one of the most difficult ship voyages in the world, but our crossing was in generally good conditions with swells of 2-3 metres, sometimes a bit more.

After the crossing (and a touch of sea sickness for me) we first reached the South Shetland Islands. We made a first landing with zodiac boats at Yankee Harbour and, after a short hike, reached the site of a cute gentoo penguin colony and some large elephant seals. Stepping foot on Antarctic lands for the first time was a unique and memorable experience.

Next day we continued our route, passing Half Moon Island, and reached the scenic Deception Island with its distinct circular layout. We made a first landing on the island at Telefon Bay where we did a short hike to a smaller volcanic crater. The second landing was at Whalers Bay, site of a former whaling station and, later, of a UK air base, both of which were interesting from a historical perspective. Deception Island has an underlying active volcano which generates geothermal activity and heated sand and waters at our landing site, another interesting feature. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip.

Our next landing was in choppy waters at Hydrurga Rocks, another scenic location which hosted chinstrap penguins and weddell seals. Our route continued through the Gerlache Strait the following day. We reached Bancroft Bay where we did a scenic zodiac cruise through icebergs of various shapes, sizes and shades of blue. The route continued to Orne Harbour after which we navigated the narrow Lemaire Channel on the following day. This was the Southernmost point in Antarctica reached on the trip.

Our final landing was at Skontorp Cove, this time on continental Antarctica (previous landings were on Antarctic islands). This was another scenic site which hosts the Argentinian William Brown station (closed at the time) and a small gentoo penguin colony, and featured another short hike. We also did a breathtaking zodiac cruise in the aptly-named Paradise Bay surrounded by impressive glaciers and navigating still waters filled with icebergs - another one of the many highlights of this expedition.

Our route in Antarctica concluded with Patagonia Bay the next day. This was followed by navigating the Drake Passage on the way back for another 2.5 days in swells of 3-4 metres in height (reaching 5, 6 or even 7 metres at times).

I was impressed with the wildlife we ecountered throughout the trip - humpback whales, elephant and weddell seals, gentoo and chinstrap penguins and different types of birds. The midnight sun with 24 hours of daylight was another cool experience.

The MV Ushuaia is an older and smaller ship but has a number of advantages. Smaller ships allow for more streamlined logistics and for everyone on board to land at the same time in all locations (there's a limit of 100 persons per landing in Antarctica). The food on board was outstanding every single day, the crew was very cool and Antarpply's prices provide some of the less expensive options for visiting Antarctica. Visiting is not cheap, though (you will also need to invest in some quality gear).

The staff provided a number of daily presentations on various Antarctic-related topics while on board which added to the entire experience. I was on board when Argentina won the soccer world cup final in December 2022, a very nice experience itself as most of the crew were from Argentina.

While challenging due to its unique conditions, the Drake crossings, one day of seasickness, temperatures ranging between -5 and -20 degrees Celsius and logistics needed for the trip, this was one of the most spectacular experiences of my life and it was all worth it. Antarctica is amazing.

A more detailed trip report on my Antarctica trip is available here.

Additional info and resources:
- Antarctica entry on Wikipedia
- Antarctica profile on Wikivoyage
- Drake passage weather and waves forecast on
- Real time ship positions and routes on

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