Archive for the 'Sea Journey' Category
Only a very small percentage of the world’s population has been to the Icy Continent at the bottom of Planet Earth. Until the 1980s almost no one but scientists and military explorers had gone to Antarctica, which wasn’t even discovered till 1800. This 2022-23 season may see almost 100,000 visitors, most by ship, some by plane. At any rate , probably less than 1 million people have ever been to Antarctica, about one in 8000.
The land is extremely dangerous. Only the most experienced well equipped explorers can move about on their own – as part of well funded expeditions. The rest go on ice breaker exploration cruise ships or on sailboats. One can be crushed by falling ice, sink into snow like quicksand, never to be seen again or simply swallowed by an avalanche, perhaps seen again in 10,000 years.
Most of the treacherous land is simply photographed. We observed many mountains that had never been climbed, because it would be almost impossible. Here we don’t talk about feet or meters of snow – we talk about kilometers or miles of depth. Up to 5km deep in the interior.
Under hundreds of meters of powdery snow is a mountain. It has now been proven that these mountains are actually a continuation of the Andes, and on to the Rockies. Only the Peninsula has mountain chains, most of the rest of the continent is a flat dry cold desert,,where the snow only falls as a dusting, but since it never melts, lasts forever.
In December the sun only sets for 90 minutes and the sky does not get dark, here at 65 South. At the South Pole, 90 South , it is light for six months.
Apple Watch Astronomy.
Most mountains are jagged like the Andes.
TotalAdventure – On The Seventh Continent !
A former British scientific base , Port Lockroy, is preserved and open in summer for visitors ,who can also shop at what is probably the only souvenir stand on the entire continent. For £ 2 one can send an Antarctica stamped postcard anywhere in the world – via London. 4 women run the show – chosen from 4000 applicants.
The men ( certainly no women in those days) lived a rugged life, in the interest of Science, serving the Crown. Assignments were often 2 years – cut off from the world other than radio for 9 months of winter.
A Young Queen and her Prince give encouragement to the lads in far flung outposts.
The bar was well stocked, but one year the supply ship got stuck in early season ice, and rationing was enforced.
Depending on wind and snow weight, some mountain slopes are bare.
TotalAdventure is not amused how uneducated some compatriots are. I am constantly asked if there are polar bears and igloos in Antarctica. Do these people not remember 3rd Grade geography ? I am also asked why we take a ship instead of a plane and what the hotels are like ? Why I can’t receive a text or a phone call ? No one has yet asked what car rentals cost ,but I’m sure that’s coming.
TotalAdventure – Reporting From Antarctica !
In Antarctic Summer, beginning in Late November/Early December – the sun softens the coastal icepack , allowing sections of the continental ice sheet to break off into the water – in the this case the Pacific zone of the Southern Ocean. At the same time the salt water sea ice softens and breaks up, allowing ships to enter bays and for penguins to fish in more open waters.
We see here a mixture of land and sea ice.The whiter ice is remnants of broken and melting land ice. The flat grey ice is the frozen sea surface either breaking up or just freezing more slowly under the 24 hour summer sunshine. The seawater is -2 C or 28 F. Saltwater freezes at a lower temperature than fresh, which is Zero. Those icicles are natural art – from the broken off lip of a larger iceberg.
Our Zodiacs of the MV Hondius were able to plow slowly, though ice chunks often get caught in the propeller.
One advantage of the waterpoof GoPro, TotalAdventure shot lots of footage under the ice ! Watch the video above for extensive coverage ! Here the camera is upside down , seeing the bottom of the ice floes and the water surface.
TotalAdventure aboard the Zodiac with the GoPro.
On one of the colder days, around -3 C the surface turns slushy, as is the characteristic of salt water ice when forming.
Like clouds, every Iceberg is unique.And it’s true that what you see is only the tip – very large icebergs might be only 10% above water. They can also roll over. The Zodiacs steer clear of the larger ones.
From the deck of the Hondius. See the video for much more action !
All one iceberg. There is a cove inside. Extremely dangerous to approach as huge chunks of ice can crush you.
Closer , but not too close.
On top of an ice shelf, a Leopard Seal soaks up the summer sunshine.
Inside, the water looks almost tropical ,with swimming pool blue – but of course it’s not !
I might be cute, but I can rip your arm off ! And eat an entire Gentoo Penguin in 3 or 4 bites.
Inside the cove. Like an Antarctic resort. Just add beach chairs.
At The Bottom Of The Planet !
The weight of accumulated snow may flip this iceberg – a good reason to stay clear.
Ice piled along the shoreline. Our landing spots were limited.
At Latitude 65 South, Approaching The Antarctic Circle.
Hondius is the first-registered Polar Class 6 vessel in the world, meeting the latest and highest Lloyd’s Register standards for ice-strengthened cruise ships. Surpassing the requirements of the Polar Code adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Hondius represents the most flexible, advanced, innovative touring vessel in the polar regions, thoroughly optimized for exploratory voyages that provide you the utmost first-hand contact with the Arctic and Antarctica. ( Credit : Oceanwide Expeditions ) Length 107.6 Meters . Can Accommodate 170 Passengers In 80 Cabins. Only 4 years old – launched in 2019.
Observing Five Meter Waves From The Bridge,As We Cross The Drake Passage.
Top Of The Line Navigation – Ensures safe and speedy passage through the Drake and into ice filled Antarctic waters. Antarctic season is from November to April and Arctic season from May to September.
Hearty meals 3 times a day keep explorers energetic and alert for landings on the icy continent.
TotalAdventure’s Antarctic office. Satellite Wifi is extremely expensive and slow- even the ship staff suggest just unplugging. Some passengers used satellite phones and text devices to stay in touch with family. TotalAdventure used the MacBook Pro to review the day’s GoPro video and still photos. It was great to leave the rest of the world behind for 10 days – nothing much had changed by our return to Ushuaia.
Our extremely comfortable cabin on Deck 6. Housekeeping service daily, consistent hot water in shower and very quiet. Large screen with movies and constant update on navigation, daily schedule. The Hondius is an exploration ship, not a cruise ship. No casino ,no disco, though there is a bar in the lounge.
On this voyage we went within 100km of the Circle. The Antarctic Peninsula is the only part of the continent where one can embark upon the actual shoreline – the rest of the coast is surrounded by ice shelves extending many kilometers out.
The Midnight Sun From Deck 8.
On the bow after lunch, en route to the afternoon landing.
The Hondius Lounge – for lectures, a drink at the bar, card playing, and watching the icebergs float by.
For the most part we experienced great early summer weather. Temperatures from – 4 to +6 ,most of the time right around Zero . ( C) There were some light snow accumulations on the ship overnight twice.
Landings are by motorized Zodiac. We had a total of 8 landings in 4 days, with only one destination change due to ice conditions.
From the Stern- Return To Ushuaia – Base Port For The Southern Summer.
TotalAdventure Is Currently En Route To Antarctica. We arrived here on Wednesday , November 30th after flying from Miami through Buenos Aries.
It is 600 Miles Across And Will Take 2 Days.
The MV Hondius Is An Icebreaker Class 6 Polar Ship. Built in 2019,It carries 112 Passengers. You can track our voyage HERE
Glaciar Martial. At ehe end of the 12000 mile Rockies and Andes chain that begins in Alaska.
Argentina is 5000 km North To South. A long beautiful drive.
The Malvinas Are An Important Situation Here.
Ushuaia Is Far From Everywhere !
Southernmost Commercial Airport In The World.
Don Bosco Cathedral.
Looking South TO Chile. TotalAdventure will depart tomorrow afternoon throught the Beagle Channel and past Cape Horn.
TotalAdventure returns to Ushuaia Argentina on December 13 . We are extremely unlikely to have any internet or cellular contact while on the expedition, but perhaps a sporadic link. TotalAdventure looks forward to sharing the adventure with everyone !
Columbia’s shoreline in the Pacific Ocean runs hundreds of miles from Panama to Ecuador, yet is only accessible by two roads. The coastline consists of sheer cliffs overgrown with dense jungle. It’s hardly a place for vacationers – the third rainiest place on Earth with over 300 inches per year.
An overnight in the desolate and rainy port of Buenaventura, in the District of Choco, in order to catch a ferry to a coastal ecolodge the next morning.
Narco Armies ,smuggling cocaine to American drug consumers, operate heavily in the region. Therefore it is heavily militarized. Here, a soldier standing guard at a fishing village checks his phone,
Low tide from my room. Tides are about 8 to 12 feet in the zone.
It’s not easy being an adventurous spirit but living confined to the city, so today, October 8th, 2021, I am starting my 3 days snorkelling-intensive trip in the Galapagos Islands with a tailored-made itinerary.
I visit the islands as much as I can, but each new occasion makes me feel like I’m a privileged alien who is on a mission to discover an entirely new world, not ruled under the normal laws of biology.
This time, I have coordinated my hotel stays, meals, and snorkelling tours with Andean Travel Company. The rest of the adventure is up to me, so here we go!
Yesterday I arrived and took the afternoon at leisure to explore Santa Cruz island’s amazing white coral beaches where flocks of iguanas defiantly stare at you and block the way. The world’s only marine iguana is endemic to these islands.
I’m staying in a hostel in the middle of the bustling, colourful town of Puerto Ayora, one of the three urban centres of the archipelago. I would very much prefer this whole place to be inhabited, but people have been driven to these islands by the promise of economic success for decades now.
I was picked up by my guide and we walked a couple of blocks towards the dock. We embarked on a speedboat to Seymour Island.
I was provided all the necessary equipment and went directly to business (after listening to the guide’s directions). My very first sight was a group of whitetip reef sharks cruising between the low basaltic cliffs below me. I did not expect that my first animal observation would be this quick and thrilling!.
Colourful fish such as the king angelfish, boxfish, and parrotfish swam around, and I got lost in thought admiring them. A strange sound brought me back to reality. It was as if small missiles were being shot… It was the sound of blue-footed boobies and pelicans plunge-diving at enormous speeds to catch fish!
These daily snorkelling tours provide lunch, and I’m grateful for that, as it is a very energy-intensive activity.
In my second swim of the day, I spotted one of my favourite marine animals, the black-botched ray. It looked so elegant with its perfectly aerodynamic platform and majestic in its cyclic underwater flight. I also hoped to see a scalloped hammerhead shark, but they are difficult to find, so let’s see what happens tomorrow.
Today, October 9th, 2021, I’m heading to one of Galapagos’ most iconic landmarks. Pinnacle Rock on Bartolomé Island. Located northeast of Santa Cruz island, 2 hours away in a boat, this is an immense spearheaded obelisk rising from the ocean. We disembarked on the appropriately named Golden Beach, and from there I started swimming into a shallow cove full of precious coral formations and reef fish.
During my time inside the cove, however, my mind was obsessed with swimming around the massive Pinnacle Rock itself. We got there in due time, along with the rest of the group and the guide. (No matter how good of a swimmer you are, when snorkelling always stay close to your group!)
At the underwater intersection where the sea bottom becomes a cliff, I found spectacular lava formations, where reef and Tiger sharks were accommodated inside natural galleries. Swimming ahead, I found medium-sized sea lions who adventured so close to my face that I actually got a bit scared. I tried to make as much eye contact as possible with them, and it’s a tender sensation that I will never forget.
To finish off this day perfectly, we spotted the endangered Galapagos penguin standing on some rocks above the water. An Antarctic bird in these warm waters is certainly an unexpected sight, but they are one of the best examples of the unique animal adaptations happening on these islands.
Day 3! I cannot believe that today is the last of my snorkelling trip. We navigated northwest to Santa Fé Island. The area destined for snorkelling was well-protected from open sea currents, so my first thought was that this might be a smart choice for beginners. These calm, shallower waters, however, delivered generously.
Fluorescent blue chin parrotfishes, yellowtail surgeonfishes, and pufferfishes swam around the turquoise waters, and sea lions made me close company again. I really felt as if these boys knew that I was on a mission, and decided to escort me to the right place. To the open waters where the scalloped hammerhead sharks finally decided to reveal themselves. What an amazing creature, a perfect example of the ambitious effects of evolution. Its distinctive, enormous head works as a sensor that has yet to be explained by science. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to this trip.
Thank you, Galapagos! May we be able to do enough to preserve your treasures!
From September 14th to September 17th, TotalAdventure travelled on the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage north to Talkeetna, back to Anchorage and South to Seward as well as whistle stops in glacier areas. The video shows a compilation of the entire trip, along with the the incredible adventure experiences offered in each area.
On the morning of the 14th, we left Anchorage on the Denali Star Train at 7:50 AM for the 3 hour ,150 mile ride North to Talkeetna. As Gold Star passengers we were seated in a glassed roofed upper deck, with an outdoor balcony for photography and viewing.Upon arrival at the tiny frontier town we passed Nagley’s Store. The Denali Star Train goes all the way to Fairbanks – an 8 hour journey. Fairbanks is Alaska’s second largest city and serves as a Gateway to the Arctic.
After lunch we walked to the security – free , private, Talkeetna Airport for our incredible flight on K2 Aviation to the Denali Base camp, where climbers for Mt.McKinley begin their 2 week climb to the Summit. Experience the flight in the blog posts below.
Afterwards we were invited for cocktails at the incredibly beautiful Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge – 5 Star Luxury Rooms with ample views of Mt.Denali on a clear day. A simple, but hearty dinner was enjoyed at Mountain High Pizza Pie – real Italian style from the owner who hailed from Pittsburgh.
After a long day we returned to our rustic inn, the Talkeetna Roadhouse , for a good night’s sleep. TotalAdventure stayed up a few hours editing the incredible aviation footage for the video featured on the Mt.Denali post below.
The next morning, Thursday the 15th, our group split in to two. The bravest of us, including TotalAdventure went Ziplining with Denali Zipline Tour.
The rest went on a jetboat adventure with Mahay’s Jet Boat Adventures. The rivers run fast and cold, fed by Mt.Denali’s glaciers. Interesting fact – the snow that falls today on Mt. McKinley will flow into the river 1500 years from now. The boat stops at a remote dock for a wilderness hike, observing old trapper and miner cabins. The guides are armed with shotguns in case of bear attacks – which thankfully have not happened.
After lunch we were treated to a tour of the Denali Brewing Company by founder Sassan Mossanen. Denali Brewing products accompanied many of our meals on the trip. Alaskans drink almost the entire production – so unfortunately none is yet exported to the Lower 48.
Early the next morning, Friday, September 16th at 6:45 Am we boarded the Coastal Classic Train for the 5 hour journey to Seward . It was a short walk from the depot to the town docks, where we boarded a Kenai Fjords Tour Boat for an incredible North Pacific Adventure- see below.
At the end of the day, chilled to the bone, we checked into our toasty warm cabins at the Seward Windsong Lodge. That night , we feasted at the hotel’s restaurant – the Resurrection Roadhouse – on local seafood delicacies of halibut and cod – fresh, not frozen.
Our final day on the Alaska Railroad Adventure was on the Glacier Discovery Train. Our group rode to the Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop to kayak across an icy lake to the Spencer Glacier. We were guided by Ascending Path ( See Below). The Alaska Railroad is one of the last railroads in the world to use whistle stops. The railroad serves remote areas that don;t warrant a station. Rather, a passenger tells a conductor at what milepost he wants to stop and notifies the engineer with a whistle. When getting back on the train, days or weeks later – the passenger stands by the tracks and flags down the passing train.
Our final night was at the Alyeska Resort – Alaska’s ‘s most luxurious hotel, with beautiful ski slopes overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The season goes from mid November to almost May, with snow measured in feet,not inches. Our final dinner- at 10 PM – reached by cable car – was at the mountain top restaurant Seven Glaciers – amazing Alaskan seafood, Kobe beef – best of all Spencer Glacier ice in our whiskey glasses.
TotalAdventure has journeyed on many of the world’s railroads, as you can see throughout our blog .The Alaska Railroad is amongst the best run – and certainly one of the more luxurious trains one can take for a daytrip. Other US train lines do not even begin to compare. Now that winter is approaching the line scales back for one weekly trip – The Aurora Winter Train !
Please scroll below, for all the Alaska Adventures !
On Friday , September 16 we boarded the 6:45 Coastal Classic Train at the Anchorage train station. The three hour jouney follows the coastline south of Anchorage, with occasional sightings of Beluga whales out the window ! The train then traverses the mountains of Chugach National Forest before arriving at Seward. At Seward it was a short walk to the dock.
We boarded the Coastal Explorer , a sturdy sightseeing craft operated by Kenai Fjords Tours. For the next six hours we explored the northernmost points of the Pacific Ocean, at 60 Degrees North.
Looks like Hawaii, but with snow. Last winter’s snow still on upper slopes with new snow starting soon.
American Bald Eagle in Seward Harbor.
Otter playing and hunting for fish.
Seals relaxing on a warm ( for them ) 40 degree day.
Blue ice from Glacier to Ocean.
Incredible Oceanic Geology.
Fishing village near Seward.
On July 2 at 7 AM we left our host’s house in Bodrum to board a catamaran ferry to the Greek island of Kos, only 20 km across the channel. We looked back at beautiful vibrant Turkey, hoping to return in the near future – to explore from Istanbul to the eastern provinces.
We arrived in port 20 minutes later. We spent nearly 40 minutes to get passports stamped, as we were re-entering the EU and Shengen. Afterwards a 50 km taxi ride to Kefalos .
In Kefalos , we found a beachside Taverna where we ate excellent grilled squid, stored our stuff and went snorkeling.
The water was as clear as an aquarium.
There were ruins right by the sea !
Soon it was time to leave for the airport. We took a turboprop to Athens, flying over hundreds of Aegean Islands. In Athens – once again passport control , as we were leaving Schengen. 4 hours later – another 1.5 hours in customs entering the UK.
Just before midnight we arrived at our hotel, after a long Tube ride. We were right by the Tower of London and Tower Bridge.
Our final day before returning Stateside was a whirlwind tour of some of the major sights.
Iconic, but we opted for Indian instead.
Today ArcticTropic accompanied the delegation from Enterprise Florida on a tour of the Panama Canal. The Canal, which just celebrated its’ 100th Anniversary is undergoing a major expansion -PANAMAX – which will triple capacity and allow much larger container ships to traverse between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Ships enter from the Atlantic ( Caribbean ) side at Colon.
PANAMAX construction. Estimated to be finished by late 2015.
Gatun Lake. The total route is 50 miles ( 80 km ) and takes 8 to 10 hours. Only 32 ships a day can pass through – 16 from either side. Reservations are required 547 days in advance, but expedited service is available.
Entering Miraflores Locks.
Clearance of the ;Miraflores completed, the ship sails into the Pacific, about 5 miles away, then on to China.
For adventures in Panama, CLICK HERE