Frequently Asked Questions: The Return

Friends, family, co-workers, tweeters and facebookers have all asked me lots of questions about my experience since I've returned. Here are the ones that have been coming up the most.

1. So… How was it?!
Legendary! EPIC! Amazing. Better than I expected. Far beyond what I could have imagined. I didn’t quite expect to be so moved! So touched. But, when you’re surrounded by incredible, remote wilderness, it’s impossible not to be affected by it in some profound way. I’d like to bring the spirit of Antarctica and the connection I had to it into my everyday life. Not sure what that means quite yet, but it was too special and too important for me to overlook. It’s hard to explain exactly what about it was so life-changing or why… it just was. 

Since I’ve returned, I’ve already looked into several ways of going back, donated to many organizations dedicated to its preservation (more on that in a future post), and researched like-minded people, companies and organizations whose lives are focused on Antarctica.

Needless to say, it was that good.

2. What did you do every day?
On the Drake (2 days in both directions), I spent most of the time going to educational lectures presented by the Expedition Guides. We had ornithologists, marine biologists, historians, geologists - all teaching us about their expertise in Antarctica. 

On the peninsula, we visited two locations per day each with activities including kayaking (if you signed up for it), zodiac cruising, or going ashore. In many cases, I got to do all three. On land, we hiked and watched the penguins (so many curious penguins, they got so close!) and other wildlife. The zodiac cruises got us up-close to the icebergs and glaciers. In between each location, we were aboard the ship, watching wildlife (whales!) from the deck, having meals, listening to more lectures or getting in a quick nap until it was time to do something amazing again. Since it was always light... there was always something to see. I didn't sleep much!

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Antarctica: Frequently Asked Questions

Friends, family, co-workers, tweeters and facebookers have all asked me lots of questions about this trip. Here are the ones that have been coming up the most.

1. Why Antarctica?
I get this question the most - which surprises me! Why not?! For me, Antarctica represents a huge adventure into the unknown. But mostly, I really want to take pictures of ice. And for some inner and mysterious reason, it has to be Antarctica. It's not as dangerous, extreme or cold as you think it is. But it certainly sounds cool!

2. Who are you going with?
The short answer is: I’m going alone. But really, I’ll be with a huge group of people who will also be on the same ship as me. I’ll be matched up with a roommate in my double cabin so it won’t ever feel like I’m actually alone in the middle of nowhere. Don’t worry, Mom.

3. Where will you stay?
I’ll be on a ship the whole time - The Sea Adventurer. It’s relatable if you think of it like a cruise. Cruising around the ice. Only less luxe with fewer amenities. 

4. What will you do there?
Go ashore, look at ice and observe the wildlife - at the bottom of the world! That’s just amazing in and of itself. I’m also kayaking, but that’s an optional add-on.

5. Will you see polar bears?
Nope, Polar Bears live up North in the Arctic. Penguins are in the Antarctic. I will see lots and lots of penguins!

6. Isn't it *really* cold?
Actually, not as cold as you’d think. I’ll only be visiting the Peninsula in the summertime, which means we’re talking about 20-32 degrees fahrenheit. I think that's pretty manageable. Much better than -80 as it can reach in the center of the continent in the dead of winter.

7. What ship are you on?
I'm going with Quark Expeditions on the 11 Day Antarctic Explorer. Quark specializes in travel to the polar regions and have pretty good rates and itineraries. I booked through Freestyle Adventure Travel, a small company based in Ushuaia, Argentina. Sarah Scott (of Freestyle), was amazing to work with, especially through my many mind changes and endless questions. Work with her!

8. How did you decide where and when to go?
Planning a trip to Antarctica is tough. I talked to people who have been there, got tips from expedition leaders, looked into many forums and asked Sarah a lot of questions. I went back and forth a lot and ultimately made the choice based on some things a mix of folks shared with me. More on the how hard it was to pick here and my decision making process here. As for when: basically, November has the most ice. December is ice and wildlife. January is less ice. February and March have the most wildlife. 

9. Did you see the John Oliver Video on Antarctica?
Yes, it's hilarious! The ice-eating bit is particularly damning. Am I going to cancel my trip because of it? No way! Luckily, Quark and others have strict requirements to keep Antarctica protected, which means lots of rules while I'm there. I certainly felt pretty guilty, though!

10. Can I go with you?
A couple of people have asked me this, and yes you can! Talk to Sarah at Freestyle from the link above. Looks like it’s nearly sold out though, so act fast!