Happy New Year! It is hard to believe that we all gathered in Buenos Aires just a couple days ago, intrepid travelers from around the world coming together for the upcoming Epic Antarctic expedition. After an early charter flight to Ushuaia, near the southern tip of South America, we spent the afternoon exploring the unique biome of Tierra del Fuego and the Beagle Channel before boarding National Geographic Endurance, our new home for the upcoming month of exploration. Last night, we departed the pier and sailed east, then south, toward the far southern reaches of the globe. Today we made good progress across the Drake Passage, crossing the significant geographic and natural transition zones it represents on our way to Antarctica. During the day, we had a number of informative presentations and time to familiarize ourselves with the vessel. Most importantly, we got to know our fellow explorers and shared stories, anticipating not only the New Year but also our arrival to a unique and fascinating region of the planet.
National Geographic Resolution
The huge distances we have covered on this journey meant that our last full day was spent almost completely at sea on our return leg from Antarctica. After a merciful lie-in, we crowded the decks as we sailed past Cape Horn, the majestic headland at the bottom tip of Hornos Island, the southernmost point of Tierra del Fuego and the entire South American continent. Despite its fearsome reputation, pleasant seas allowed for an enjoyable brunch before we plunged into our presentation schedule for the morning and afternoon. Naturalist Gail Ashton related her experience of living on the Antarctica continent for 18 months, Jonny Reid discussed marine mammal acoustics and the underwater soundscapes of this region, and Jess Farrer explained how the study of whale and seal poop can tell us so much about these animals. As we entered the Beagle Channel, the stunning mountains of Tierra del Fuego lined our passage to Ushuaia. Gathering in the Ice Lounge for the captain’s farewell party, we toasted a hugely enjoyable trip and the new friends we have made.