Some people come to Antarctica to see the penguins, others come so that they can tell others that they’ve been to all seven continents, but no matter what their reasons for coming may have been, it is the sheer beauty of the experience that will have them talking about it for years. They call it the white continent, but it is so much more than that. It is raw and powerful, and it is guaranteed to grab your attention with its majestic beauty.
As the ship carves through the ocean’s channels, speckles of blue ice dot the waters. Sprawling glaciers stretch through any valley gap they can find, and those that can’t find valleys carve their own. Covered in pristine snow, they push themselves towards the water where they drop into the ocean waters, finally free of their parental enclave and free to roam the waters independently as icebergs. Rugged mountains rise like pyramids from the cold ocean floor and make visitors feel the imposing sensation of natural dominance. Clouds lie low as if they are protecting the raw view from the curious eyes of intruders hoping to catch a glimpse of the shy mountains. At the base of it all the heavy glacial waters seem to glisten a dark shade of black, like oil from a beautiful spill.
Antarctica speaks. And taking the time to simply close one’s eyes and sit among this great unknown world will give great understanding to the true life that exists. Overhead the swooping flow of hunting petrels and other sea birds clip the air. On the rockeries, penguins call out to their mates in desperate pleas to return like the wife of a soldier long since lost to the fields of battle. In the bays the thunderous sound of calving glaciers echo before giving way to a quiet peace where even the faint sound of the breathing whale at the surface can be heard from miles away
On the water, the cold air vibrates its way into the nose and tingles from a fresh air that dives deep into the lungs of those who breathe it. Like a cold shot sent though the veins from an IV the air frees itself through the body and carries its way from the lungs to the tips of the toes. The winds feel heavier than usual as they press into the cheeks of guests carrying not only air, but a sense of excitement. As visitors set their feet on the softly packed snow an overwhelming sense of awe seems to be carried through their veins with the air.
People travel for countless number of reasons. Some do it as a means to get away from the world they know, others for the photos they gather to show to their friends and family, and other may do so just to say they have seen the world. Whatever the reason that one comes to Antarctica instantly becomes irrelevant upon arrival. It is that moment when the reason of “why?” is quickly forgotten. It is that moment where the pure state of awe is completely understood. It is that moment that can never be translated in words, pictures, videos, or stories. And it is that moment that we all realise, “this is why we came to Antarctica.”
***Keep following Brendan's Adventures in Antarctica. The other day he posted a video called “How to Swim in Antarctica.” Stay tuned for more articles including a photo essay and some photography tips.
Have a look at the 10-night Antarctic Explorer trip he’s taking by clicking here and read his Day Four blog here. Please ask any questions you have on Twitter or Facebook. For our contacts list click here or email us here.