Why go to Antartica?


First off, I’m not actually going to Antarctica.  I am heading to the Falkland and South Georgia Islands near the Antarctic converge.  Most Americans think of South Georgia as a place above the state of Florida and vaguely remember the Falklands as a place where the British fought Argentina, so it is easier to tell people I’m going to Antarctica.

So…why go to these remote and cold islands?  Logically it doesn’t make any sense.  They’re cold, wet, and can be disgustingly windy.  I’ll be visiting in the Southern Hemisphere’s spring, when temperatures range from the low 30’s to the 50’s.  Storms can get pretty nasty too – there is a lot of sea between Antarctica and these islands.  Getting there requires a deep-sea-going ship and a day’s journey from Chile to the Falklands, then 2 days from the Falklands to South Georgia.  These seas are some of the roughest on Earth!  I also had to go through another physical with my doctor before being cleared to take this trip.  Not to mention anything of the expenses that come with an expedition of this kind.

I regard this experience to be one of a lifetime!  These islands host one of the most abundant populations of wildlife because they’re one of the few places animals of the Southern Ocean can breed.  Some beaches cram over 100,000 different types of penguin, seals, and birds.  It was one of the heaviest populated places for most whale species, and they’re on the come-back since whaling thinned those numbers over 50 years ago.  It is the final resting place of Ernest Shackleton who could be the greatest explorer of the 20th Century.  Despite the wildlife, scenery, history there is also the notion that global warming is true, and the opportunity to see places like these may not be available later in my lifetime.

My plane leaves Norfolk, VA on the evening of October 13th and comes back the afternoon of November 3rd…..but this trip has been planned for years.  In searching the Internet, there is plenty of information on these areas, but not a whole lot discussing how to prepare or what to bring.  I will try to do that for any interested people here.

Map of the voyage
Map of the voyage