Back in the 60s, only a handful of travelers had the desire to go on a trip to Antarctica. After the success of that ship’s voyage, it inspired more tourist explorations and cruises to the white continent; in fact, nowadays, there are about 35,000 to 40,000 people who visit Antarctica every year! Surely, what was once an elusive place deemed as only for explorers and scientists has now become a dream destination for travelers who are looking to go off the beaten track.
Newsflash: I’m actually one of those people who have long dreamt of going on a trip to Antarctica. After all, I don’t think there is any other place on Earth that is similarly pristine, remote and unique. So naturally, if someone told me years ago that I will be making that dream come true this year, I would NOT have believed them.
This collaboration has actually been decided since 2016… and of course, I have been dying to announce it since day one; but I decided to keep it all under wraps because I didn’t want to jinx it until everything was final. Thankfully, all the other arrangements are done with months ago and when I finally got my Argentina visa today, I’m now going ALL OUT with the announcements.
Aaaah… somebody please pinch me though because I still can’t believe that in just a few weeks from now, I’ll be sailing off to such an amazing place that used to be just a fragment of my dreams!
My Upcoming Trip to Antarctica
» The Triple ‘A’ Dream
Photo by Karsten Bidstrup / Hurtigruten
If you’ve been a reader of this blog for a while now, you would know how I have my grand ‘Triple A’ dream destinations: Africa, Arctic Circle, and Antarctica.
I wrote that plan back in 2015 and… I would have NEVER guessed that I would be checking off Antarctica FIRST before the other two. Truth be told, by the time I’ll step foot in Antarctica, it will be my 6th continent and that blows my mind a bit because I always thought that I would be declaring it as the last continent that I’ll have to conquer — but I guess not!
Now, some of you might be thinking, “Why Antarctica?”
Well… simply put: because it IS Antarctica!
Other than the reasons that I’ve already mentioned previously at the start of this article, it also helps to mention that I’ve dreamt of doing a trip to Antarctica ever since I was a child and it’s partly due to how I am a huge science buff. That being said, I’m looking forward to the kind of discussions and experiences that we will be doing during the sailing expedition with Hurtigruten. Of course this includes as well my interest for Antarctica’s wildlife called as “extremophiles” or species who can thrive in extreme conditions and they’re not limited to the south pole’s (cute!) penguins, whale seals, albatrosses, and whales among many others!
The pristine nature in Antarctica is naturally a given too, and I simply can’t wait to hike, kayak, polar plunge(!) and camp (if possible) as I get to witness dramatic icebergs, glaciers, lagoons, etc.
Did you know? Antarctica’s HUGE size does not only make it distinct from any other place on Earth because it is also the highest, driest, coldest, windiest, and brightest continent on our planet! If you’re curious why, read this 15 fascinating facts!
» Why I’m Going with Hurtigruten for a Trip to Antarctica
As a travel blogger, it’s a fact that I don’t just partner up with any brand. Besides, I always make it a point to collaborate with a company that I can trust and align with.
I have actually had invitations from a few brands before, but I decided to reach out to Hurtigruten instead for the trip to Antarctica. Below are some of the reasons why I wanted to spend my once-in-a-lifetime experience with them — and why you should start considering them too on your future Antarctica expedition!
- Established expert cruise provider. Hurtigruten is a Norwegian adventure journey and local transportation provider that has since operated in 1893 on Norway’s coastline. Today, they have developed into a world-leading company in sustainable nature expedition travels with an impressive expedition fleet that explores a lot of areas around the globe: other than a trip to Antarctica, they also go to the coasts of South America, the Amazon rainforests, Greenland, Iceland, Spitsbergen, and Arctica Canada.
- Biggest Antarctica operator worldwide. Hurtigruten currently has 2 expeditionary ships that offer unique experiences in Antarctica, namely MS Fram and MS Midnatsol. In 2018, the company will even launch the 1st of two hybrid-powered expedition ships and it will be called MS Roald Amundsen. This is said to be a major step towards emissions-free travel and Hurtigruten will even further stabilize its position as the biggest Antarctica explorer operator globally — whilst also enforcing its positive stance on sustainable travel.
- Promotes sustainable travel. It is said that anyone who comes to Antarctica should have “no more than a minor or transitory impact” on the environment. For Hurtigruten, they make this as a core part of their every decision: to establish sustainability and climate policies in order to scientifically reduce their environmental footprint (not only in the short term but in the long term as well) — and it surely shows in the way that they operate their ships and expeditions. It helps to mention that Hurtigruten is also a full member of IAATO and they always make it a point to comply with the guidelines of the organization. To further make the guests “Antarctic advocates”, Hurtigruten gladly delivers an educational program onboard to inform everyone on challenges of tourism, global climate change, wildlife biology.
- Continually evolving in order to offer authentic and unique experiences. Hurtigruten never settles for anything less and they are always striving to expand their operations to new and unique destinations. Through exceptional tradition, commitment to sustainability, and adventure know-how, you will certainly be assured that Hurtigruten will always offer highly attractive premium products that offer authentic one-of-a-kind experiences at pristine destinations. What this means for you is that any trip to Antarctica will definitely be a journey that is memorable and worth (even more than) the money that you spent.
- Designed to suit all explorer levels, Hurtigruten has over 200 excursions and/or activities to date.
- Designed to suit all explorer levels, Hurtigruten has over 200 excursions and/or activities to date.
- “Gives back”. I love a company that thinks of social responsibility. That’s why I loved how Hurtigruten has established a foundation to not only raise awareness of the opportunities and challenges in the areas that they sail to but to also financially support locally initiated projects and to encourage volunteering in worthwhile causes. For example, Hurtigruten already supports several local initiatives such as ‘Clean up Svalbard’, Association of Greenlandic Children, and conservation projects of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and Antarctica. Clearly, your trip with Hurtigruten will go a long way!
There’s more to love about Hurtigruten — but I’ll save the rest for another post especially after I get to actually experience the service of their crew, the ship’s facilities, the food, the rooms and MORE!
Wanna go to Antarctica? Email [email protected] w/ code IAMAILEEN to get a discounted quote![
» The 20-Day Itinerary: Ultimate Antarctica Experience
Most ships and vessels that make a trip to Antarctica depart from ports in places like Argentina, Chile, Falkland Islands, New Zealand, and South Africa. In this particular Hurtigruten expedition, it will depart from Buenos Aires, Argentina. If you’re curious how my 20 days will go, below is our rough itinerary as we explore both the Antarctic Islands and Antarctica itself.
NOTE: Since this is a remote destination, the weather, wind, and ice conditions will determine our schedule. So during our voyage, the captain will have the final say on any changes or added activities that can be done. Either way, this just shows that every expedition with Hurtigruten is unique!
To see the complete details of this 20-day expedition (about costs, the ship, year schedules, etc.), go here. Price starts at around $17,000~ per person but there are shorter Hurtigruten Antarctica expeditions that start from about $5,000~
Day 1: November 26 ~ At the Birthplace of Tango
Location: Buenos Aires
Photo by Trixi Lange-Hitzbleck / Hurtigruten
The whole expedition starts at the birthplace of Tango, Buenos Aires, which is also dubbed as the “Paris of South America”.
For this day, we are free to explore the city on our own. I will be flying from the Philippines with Emirates and arriving on the 25th so I guess by this time I will have enough energy to go around. Now, this will actually be the first time that I’ll step foot in South America, so as my ‘first’, please let me know if you have any tips or ‘things-to-do’ that I should not miss out on when in Buenos Aires by leaving a comment below. Thank you!
Day 2: November 27 ~ All Aboard at the “End of the World”
Photo by Rita Melville / Hurtigruten
On this day, we will board a flight to Ushuaia from Buenos Aires in the morning. We will embark on the MS Fram ship of Hurtigruten sometime later in the day to start our trip to Antarctica — so, we will have a few hours to explore parts of Ushuaia (a spot that’s not to miss is said to be the Tierra del Fuego National Park).
TRIVIA: Ushuaia is the southernmost town in the world. Because of this, it has been referred to as “El Fin Del Mundo” or the End of the World. Quite an ominous name, right? But it’s just a name of course and I can’t wait to witness the beauty that this place holds!
Day 3: November 28 ~ Crossing the Drake Passage
Location: The Drake passage
Photo by Karsten Bidstrup / Hurtigruten
This is the start of our sailing expedition and we will set course for the Falkland Islands that is located 480 km (300 miles) east of the southern tip of Argentina, and approximately 1,000 km (600 mi) north of the South Shetland Islands in Antarctica. During this time we will enjoy life on board whilst keeping a lookout for wildlife. We can even join their Expedition Team as they start their interesting lecture series to help us understand the region more.
If I say so myself, another aspect of this day that I’m excited about (other than the fact that it’s the start of our time at sea) is that, apparently, crossing the Drake Passage can be quite an experience what with it being commonly referred to as the world’s roughest seas!
They say that it will depend on the weather if we will have a rough time or not — of course, I hope for the latter but I’ll prepare myself in case the former happens. I’m no stranger to rough seas though given that I’m born in an island, but I’ll never know.
Day 4 to 13: November 29 to December 8 ~ Across Open Seas and Sub-Antarctic Islands
Locations: Southern Oceans, Falkland Islands, South Georgia, South Orkney
Photo by Dominic Barrington / Hurtigruten
This Ultimate Antarctica Experience is regarded as an ‘ultimate’ thing, after all, so along with this expedition, we will get to explore the Atlantic Islands too!
While we venture through the Southern Seas, we will first make a stop at the remote Falkland Islands which consist of 2 large islands and around 700 smaller ones (with a population of over 3,000 people only). In here, we will see immense colonies of albatross, rockhopper, king and macaroni penguins, caracas, and upland geese. The Falkland Islands also has a historical capital called Stanley, as well as stunning white-sand beaches.
What follows after this location will be our first Antarctic island: South Georgia. This place has magnificent mountain scenery with glaciers and beaches teeming with wildlife — from elephant seals, fur seal pups, albatross, and King penguins. We also plan to visit Fortuna Bay and some of South Georgia’s abandoned whaling stations.
Last stops before the great trip to Antarctica Peninsula will be the deserted South Orkney Islands which are a photographer’s dream due to its majestic snow-capped mountains, blue icebergs and endless wilderness. We will spend one day exploring these islands before sailing the Washington Strait to Coronation Island and Elephant Island.
Day 14 to 17: December 9 to 12 ~ Pristine Antarctica
Photo by Esther Kokmeijer / Hurtigruten
Finally, we will be arriving in Antarctica — a place dedicated to peace and science, and a place that has evolved through the millennia without human interference. As I’ve already mentioned, activities will depend on the weather but as opportunities arise we will always try to aim to launch our kayaks, pitch tents ashore, and go on unforgettable hikes to explore the most beautiful, untouched places in the area.
Throughout our stay, we will be exploring the West of Antarctica or commonly called the Antarctica Peninsula. But on our way, we will also make stops to several nearby islands such as Deception Island, Half Moon Island, and Brown Bluff wherein we can witness various unique sceneries that are not limited to flat-topped bergs, beaches sprinkled with lava “bombs”, rust-colored bluff, and so much more!
With all that said, there are also some other things that I’m excited about and which I hope we will be able to do: doing a polar plunge and stopping by Port Lockroy (to send postcards from!) for instance.
Anyhow, we will surely have days wherein we will be feasting our eyes on the various wildlife found in the peninsula and on the massive icebergs that are in striking blue colors.
Day 18 to 20: December 13 to 15 ~ Back to Drake Passage and then Disembarkation
Locations: Drake Passage, Ushuaia, Buenos Aires
After some magnificent days exploring Antarctica, MS Fram will start to head north as we make our way back to the South American continent. This will be the perfect time to fondly reminisce on our expedition and to attend sessions for recapping our Antarctica experience — after all, it will take us about 40 hours to reach Ushuaia in good weather.
Come the 15th of December, it will be the end of the adventure. We will make landfall back in Tierra del Fuego and then continue with a flight back to lively Buenos Aires.
» Want a Postcard from Antarctica?
When I announced this trip to Antarctica a week ago on Facebook, a LOT of you have started to ask me for a postcard. I certainly didn’t mind doing it at first because I’ve sent postcards before when I was traveling in places like Europe and America. However… when the requests came in hundreds, I was stumped!
So as much as I would LOVE to send a postcard to each and every single one of you, regrettably, I don’t think it’s possible. HOWEVER, what I can do is that I can send FREE postcards to 10 lucky readers!
I did the research and apart from the fact that Hurtigruten can send my postcards, I can also send them from Antarctica’s Port Lockroy’s famous shop, post office, and museum called the Penguin Post Office! I aim to do it in this world’s most southerly post office so that I can also try doing a (LIVE) video coverage while I’m sending the cards — therefore, let’s hope the weather is good and MS Fram will dock to this place.
Anyhow, bottom line is: the 10 postcards WILL be sent from Antarctica and it’s not everyday that you will receive something like this for sure!
To pick the 10 lucky readers, I aim to do it in via a simple raffle. To enter and gain entries, you will just have to do the following:
- Log-in to the form below (either through your Facebook account or your email).
- Do the 2 required steps that will be displayed below in order to be counted in the giveaway. Each action will give you one entry point.
*Once you finish doing these 2 required steps, it will unlock 8 extra non-required or optional steps that will give you MORE entry points for increasing your chances of winning! In fact, some of them can be done every day!
- This raffle is open worldwide.
- This raffle will start on October 18 and it will end on November 20 (12AM, GMT +8). Winners will be picked randomly and will be announced in November 11 on the ‘I am Aileen’ Facebook page.
- This raffle is hosted only by me and not by Hurtigruten.
I’m excited to soon start this amazing voyage to the Earth’s so-called “Last Frontier” — besides, I’m certain that I’ll be in good hands given that Hurtigruten will be my expedition provider.
With all that said and done, stay tuned for the start of my trip by following the hashtag #AileenInAntarctica on social media. I was told that I would be able to get an internet connection at most parts during the journey so if possible, I’ll also make it point to try and do LIVE videos on Facebook — if not, you can always check out my Instagram Stories on @i_am_aileen.