Today (and night) was such a busy day. It all started with a kayaking trip in Paradise Bay – and let me tell you – it looked like Paradise for those that like the cold and ice! We wore wet suits for that just in case our kayak collapses and we go into the coldest water I have ever felt! I was paired with a girl from New Zealand and was happy to know that she knew what she was doing as well. The photo above is Estell and Josep who were in my kayaking group. There are many Chinese people on our boat that don’t follow any directions and just keep wandering off and the guides keep having to go get them and bring it back. At one point during the kayaking trip the guide was having to demonstrate how to paddle – this wouldn’t be the place I would have wanted to kayak for the first time. It was quite difficult in the tandem kayak to maneuver around all of the mini ice bergs. What looks tiny up top, doesn’t move and you start tilting all over the place. We were out for about 2 hours before returning back to the boat to bring up all of the kayaks onto the 3rd deck. The lady made the biggest fuss about water proof gloves the other day and my hands were so hot I just tied them to my life vest and paddled without them – so much easier! The sun is brutal down here – I keep putting on sun screen but I am still getting burnt – the reflection of the snow and water isn’t helping at all. Silly me I put my GoPro on to take a picture after every second to try and make a time lapse – I had over 3,400 photos – whoops!
In the afternoon after lunch we went back out. I was so excited because I was finally going to be able to step onto the actual continent of Antarctica. Everywhere else we have been has just been islands, but this was the true 7th continent. Before I stepped on land though, I had signed up for a photography tour. We saw two really large seals that just look like they are smiling at you. We were in the zodiac so we could get up pretty close and take photographs. We then received word that there was a humpback whale in the area so we went off searching for the whale – most sane people would try and avoid the whales, here they drive around for 30 minutes having us look for them. I wish I saw more seals, but hopefully tomorrow we will. We then flip flopped our groups and went on shore. The snow is so thick and soft you just fall right through so once on land you are wearing snow shoes. We trekked up the side of a hill to this overlook that had 360 degree views of the straight and glaciers. Some people were being super loud and also throwing snow balls so when the guide said lets all take 10 minutes to just sit here and take it all in without any cameras or talking I was SOOOO happy! You could hear the cracking of the ice all around you while you stare at mountains over 4000 feet tall right in front of you. Everything here is SOOO large. On the way down we were able to see a chin strap penguin. It honestly looks like he has on a helmet and then a strap under his chin, super cute! We were supposed to get back to the boat earlier, however the ship had to move due to ice so we were stranded on land for an extra half hour until the zodiacs were able to come pick us up. It was literally get back, recap meeting, dinner, grab my bags….to camp outside for the night!!
I have been super excited to go camping outside in Antarctica since I booked this trip! While most of the videos show these camps with tents already set up, I was given a shovel and a dry bag with 2 mats and 2 sleeping bags and a bag like a swag. I dug my own grave. It was off to a rocky start getting there since the old landing was covered in fresh snow and we didn’t have snow shoes. I got to the top of the hill and my leg went the whole way down that it was stuck. I had to pull my leg out and left the boot still in the snow and Christine dug it out. At this point I’m going this is my luck already, its going to be a long night! While digging my grave, I made sure to go pretty deep because I knew it would be blocking all wind and it would keep the majority of the heat down in that little pocket. We used all of the stuff we dug to make wind blocks. The hardest part was trying to get all of the bags inside of one another without getting them wet. I think I was one of the first people to just strip down to my base layer, get in that bag, put something to block the people that were still talking outside and the sunlight! I didn’t want to sleep with my sun glasses on so a jacket over the head did the trick. I absolutely loved it – perfect temperature, I would predict it was low to mid 30’s and no wind. I honestly felt like I was in my own house where the temperature isn’t always the warmest, but my bed is warm and toasty. I got to bed about 10:15ish and slept till 3 when I checked my watch. I only woke up because I was trying to switch to my other side and I was so twisted in all of the sleeping bags. Wake up call was at 5am and by that time I didn’t want to get out of my sleeping bag. They brought a portable toilet overlooking one of the glaciers, but I made sure not to drink lots at dinner so I didn’t have the chance to use it. I also didn’t feel like putting on my boots once I was already all curled up. Can’t really say I slept under the stars, but I did sleep under the Antarctic sun! I would do this again in a heartbeat.