The Books have arrived

Now you can share the journey from the comfort of your home

A Visual feast of pictures in bucket list places where many have not gone.
A must have.

This large format book focuses on the visual. The single image per page printed on quality paper with the added benefit of a dark background enables you to see the images at their best. The travelogue that is included on the occasional page page throughout the book gives you context for the photos, plus the descriptive but un-intrusively added picture titles complete the presentation.

A journey in 2 parts over 2 continents. This large format premium version of the book will be withdrawn from sale once 10 copies have been sold and only a small format book will remain, so do not miss out on the best 1st edition available.

The Andes and Mount Aconcagua

On the flight back from Buenos Aries to Santiago I made sure to get a seat in front of the wing and on the right hand side of the plane. I wanted / needed to see Mount Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Andes and South America at 6961 meters and also outside of Asia, and therefore the highest point in both the Western Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere. Many years ago I did start making plans to climb this but never quite happened, but at least now I have seen it. The plan worked perfectly for a fantastic view the flight path only being a few 10s of kilometers from the mountain on a clear and still day.

I’m writing this whilst siting in the Santiago airport waiting for my plane back to Australia. Only 2 hours to boarding.

Regards

Walter

From Patagonia to Buenos Aries

Another long day gone and a longer one to come. Spent a day exploring Buenos Aries by tourist bus, taxi and on foot. I like the on foot bit, you see so much more. Buenos Aries is only a few hours flight from Ushuia, but it is a world away. Apart from the heat and all the trees the most obvious things to me were that in most areas there is very little rubbish lying around and there are no stray dogs. Here dogs seem to be more pampered than at home with lots of pet accessory shops and quite a few dog walkers out and about with several dogs at the same time. I even saw a poodle have her own chair at a roadside café.

There is also a bit of history here all the way from the 17 hundreds to the bomb shrapnel marks on the walls from a military coup about 30 or 40 years ago. But Argentina has had a stable democracy since the last dictator got ousted back in 1983 (I think) after the Falklands war with England. The Malvinas/Falklands is still a sensitive issue with many. The two subjects that are likely to create a lively discussion are politics and football. I know nothing about either here, so got away with it easily. There are a huge number of memorials and streets named after important dates and presidents and other important figures.

Another place to see memorials is the Recoleta Cemetary. Fascinating to look at the various mausoleums, especially if someone can tell you about some of the historical figures entombed there, like Evita Peron

Seeing I did my exploring on a Sunday there were markets everywhere, and mostly artisan type stalls where everything anybody could make was available for sale. By I just walked by as I wanted to visit the Japanese Gardens, like many others so I found out. If you ignored all the people you could find parts that were an oasis of calm. The many parks were full of people and families enjoying a day out. Same with the tourist areas like the colorful La Boca harbor side suburb. I do prefer natural landscapes to manmade, but it was an interesting diversion. Now to head back to an alternate reality.

Regards

Walter

From the Antarctic to Cape Horn via the Drake Passage

Time to leave the peninsula and head north again. We headed for the Drake Passage after leaving vast areas of tabular icebergs behind towards Cape Horn, the seas being a lot calmer than the first time with only a 2 to 3 meter swell mostly. We did see one more berg in the distance in the straight on the following day. After 2 nights and a day in the Drake Cape Horn was spotted in the distance on calm seas unlike what a lot of ships have experienced here. We arrived to the West of Cape Horn, then rounded the Horn travelling eastwards towards the Beagle Channel and tonight’s final port, Ushuaia, having travelled through 3 Oceans in one day. The Southern, the Pacific and the Atlantic. Often being accompanied by Albatrosses and the occasional Petrel.

Now to get ready to disembark after a farewell dinner. Next stop Buenos Aires tomorrow. That could be a contrast.

Regards

Walter

An Antarctic grand Finale – Brown Bluff and Goudier Islands

We sailed overnight through the Bramsfield Strait to the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula and Brown Bluff. Very appropriately named due to the tall brown volcanic tuff cliffs. With a dusting of fresh snow overnight it looked like a painting. And yes there were penguins. I mostly ignored them and climbed up a steep and loose moraine ridge to get some views of a terminal glacier moraine, the penguins on the volcanic cinder beach, the nearby Weddell sea and what looked like red penguins , being the passengers of the ship on the beach I was up so far.

As we went back for a cruise around in the Zodiacs some of those still on land went for a swim seeing they had a nice beach there. unFortunately I missed out on that polar plunge.

Next and last stop Goudier Island, which was going to be the last stop on my Antarctic Adventure. It was getting colder with ice forming on the decks. I spent some time up there as there were reports of whales. I did see a tail fluke and a couple of dorsal fins of in the distance. We got in the Zodiacs and headed over to the Island and the landing was around a corner of a small headland in a bay about 5 or 6 meters wide between various size rocks. A few chunks of ice the size of large eskis or coolers had to be pushed out of the way with larger chunks and a couple of small bergs, one with a Leopard seal on it, were floating about also. A close eye was kept on these to make sure we could still get off the beach.

Once again there were penguins. Lots of penguins. The last estimate was about 27000 or so. Chinstraps, Gentoos and Adelie all together. The sound, smell and sights was almost overwhelming in a good and fascinating way. Then it was back onboard the Zodiacs through the ice for a final trip around the area and back to the ship. Around the back of a small iceberg we came across a Leopard Seal dispatching the rest of a penguin. Amazing David Attenborough like vision of it tearing the penguin apart by grabbing a piece in its powerful jaws and flicking his head and the penguin vigorously. Amazing to see and almost impossible to photograph due to the speed and only being a few meters from the Zodiac.

In the distance a whale was spotted so we motored towards the area. On the way there we could see the tail flukes pop up so it had dived. This happened a couple of times. Then suddenly one popped up right in front of us, then another one. They took a couple of breaths and then dived showing us their flukes on the way down. We motored towards another area and unexpectedly were surrounded by whales with 2 or 3 either side of us. I was standing at the time in order to be able to get better photos and videos when 2 more whales surfaced only a few meters in front of the Zodiac and dived heading straight towards us. At that stage I thought I had better sit down just in case we got bumped, but all good.

What a day. What a day!

A trip to the Penguin Post Office

And now for something completely different, a trip to the Post Office. Overnight we had arrived at Port Lockroy at Wiencke Island. This is an official English Post Office, affectionately known as the Penguin Post Office. It was originally established as a way to have an official British presence in the area, but now it is also a popular tourist attraction, even though it is quite a trip to get here. Several ships a week visit now and thousands of items, mainly postcards, are posted annually. There is also a tourist shop and the proceeds are used for the maintenance of the historic huts and bases in Antarctica. Anyone disembarking has to do so in smaller boats as there is no quay to tie up on. The mail is processed and stamped by hand, then shipped to the Falklands via passing ships, then onwards to England where it is added to the standard mail system. And yes, I sent a couple of cards. There are a number of penguins all around the buildings, plus some whale bones from the early days.

Back on board for lunch and a few hour trip to the Melchior Islands. On the way we had a couple of short glimpses of some Humpback whales. When we arrived at the islands the winds had picked up and the seas were choppy, but we enjoyed a slightly splashy cruise around and some spectacular close up views of huge blue and turquoise icebergs.

Regards

Walter

Of Islands, Krill and Views

Today is looking to be a busy day with 3 landings planned. The first one was on Yalour Island, where once again we saw some great views and more penguins along with the smell that goes along with any penguin colony. This too is something that is almost indescribable, but I will try. The Penguin adults fish for Krill in the waters around the peninsula and islands. Krill is a small crustacean that is maybe up to 50mm long or so and feeds mainly on algae and other things it can filter out of the water. The adults feed the chicks by regurgitating the Krill and feeding it directly to them, with the chicks sticking their beaks as far as they can down their parent’s throats, even so there is some spillage occasionally. What goes in must come out and this process goes on for months. So there is digested krill scented poo everywhere, on the rock, the snow, the ice. Penguins do not discriminate in that regard. You can smell the colony before you can see it or hear it. It is all part of the nutrient cycle. Algae and plankton utlilise the nutrients in the poo, the algae feeds the krill, which is classified as a zooplankton, and so on. Coming back to the Zodiac there was a Giant Southern Petrel trying to round up one of the bunched together penguin chicks. Unsuccessfully this time.

First stop after lunch was Port Charcot on Booth Island, which was the site of the first intentional over-wintering in Antarctica. A short walk up a Snow slope took us to a cairn with a cross and a view. Then back onto the Zodiac for trip across the bay to Plenau Island. More penguins on the rocks near the landing site.

This time a longer walk up a snow covered ridge led to the best view so far. And at times a full feeling of the remoteness of where I was. As the walk was longer and steeper not everyone attempted it. At times it was just me. And the Silence. I didn’t lift my camera for minutes and just stood there and absorbed the sensation of being. Here. Snow clouds were drifting past in the distance over the icebergs to the west in the Southern Ocean. There were ever changing patches of sunlight illuminating parts of the seas and individual bergs. I did recover my senses and tried doing justice to what I saw with my camera. I do not think anyone could succeed fully on that front in that place and time with those views.

Regards

Walter