Photo by John E. Lester
As a prize for winning the Guardian's 2011 'Adventure' Travel Writing Competition, for my entry about the Amazon, I'll be heading to Antarctica on the 10th of Jan, for a three week tour of the coldest, windiest place on earth, courtesy of G-adventures. I'm going to be blogging about my adventures before, during and after right here.
Let's kick off with an overview of the trip...
Flying from London to Ushusaia, via Amsterdam and Buenos Aires, my first adventure will be one heck of a plane ride, to get myself to the southern-most city in the world, where my G-adventures expedition begins.
Day 1 will be spent on the shores of the Beagle Channel: Ushuaia was originally inhabited by the Yamna people and was once a penal colony for political prisoners and hardened criminals. I'll be interested to see how tourism has shaped the modern-day town, which is now a hopping-off point for Antarctic cruises, as well as a magnet for skiers, hikers and nature lovers.
Photo by 23am.com
Day 2 is the day we set sail. Embarking on our vessel - the M/S Expedition - at 4pm, I'm looking forward to exploring the ship and meeting my fellow passengers.
Day 3 is a school day
En-route to the Falkland Islands, we'll begin our lecture and information sessions to start discovering all about the human and natural history of the Antarctic region.
Day 4-5 we set foot on The Falkland Islands
Experiencing the biological diversity and scenery of the southern islands, I've been promised penguins, elephant seals, sea lions, king cormorants, black-browed albatross, skuas, night herons, giant petrels, striated caracaras, plenty of sheep, and some hardy local inhabitants.
Day 6-7 School time in the Southern Ocean
On course for South Georgia, we'll spend more time at school to prepare us for South Georgia, with the distraction of sea bird and whale-watching en-route.
Day 8-11 South Georgia - the true spirit of Shackleton
I can't wait to follow in Shackleton's steps, see his grave, walk through the former whaling stations and be bombarded by king penguins. If this doesn't mean much to you, then book yourself a few hours to watch this fantastic 4OD film about his South Georgia self-rescue.
Apparently, there's around 300,000 elephant seals, 3 million fur seals, and 25 species of breeding birds, a king penguin rookery of 100,000 and around five million macaroni penguins - good job i got a new camera for Christmas.
Day 12-13 Shackleton's Scotia Sea voyage
Retracing Shackleton's epic sea voyage, we'll be sailing towards Elephant Island in the South Shetland Islands, where the rest of his expedition team, awaited his return. The rich nutrients of the Scotia Sea, make for an abundance of whales, seals, and seabirds.
Day 14-17 Setting foot on the white continent
Four days exploring the South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula! The weather makes the rules down here but, if all goes to plan, we'll be standing next to penguins, sighting whales, watching seals in the ice floes, seeing the wingspan of the albatross and visiting scientific research bases, all with a backdrop of ice-choked waterways, glistening icebergs, immense glaciers and snow-capped mountains.
Day 18-19 back via the Drake Passage
Sailing north across the Drake Passage, there'll be two more days to absorb the epic scenery of the south before arriving back in Argentina.
Day 20 Goodbye Ushuaia
Ending as we started, we arrive back in Ushuaia before the long flight home.