We are delighted to be headed South again to the frozen landscapes of Antarctica to experience the incredible wildlife spectacle to be found there. This will be our 18th expedition to a place as close to our hearts as our home in East Africa. If you have never been to Antarctica then you must, in the same way that if you have never been on safari to East Africa then you must join us there too. Antarctica is a land beyond reality, a spiritual place that will hold you in its thrall. Nobody forgets a journey to Antarctica.
It’s 100 years since ‘Scott of the Antarctic’ and his four companions reached the South Pole on the 17th January 1912 – only to find that Amundsen and his fellow Norwegians had beaten them to it. Scott and his men perished on the return journey. As a child I grew up on Scott’s legend and was always inspired by the work of his son Sir Peter Scott who became a painter and conservationist ‘par excellence’. It was a great thrill for me to be presented with the Overall Winner’s trophy in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition in 1987 by Sir Peter Scott – the same Award that Angie won in 2002 for her stunning image of elephants drinking in the Luangwa River. The bronze ibis trophies are among our most prized possessions.
In Antarctica the daring deeds of the explorers of the ‘Heroic Age’ – of which Scott and Shackleton are among the most famous – come alive as you travel the icy reaches of the great Southern Continent. And to help you learn more about the history of Antarctica we are delighted to be reacquainted with author and Antarctic Historian Jonathan Shackleton, one of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s cousins, who is certain to provide our fellow travellers with the opportunity of a lifetime to hear more about the great Irishman whose epic adventures have been an inspiration all my life.
We have been fortunate to return to Antarctica nearly every season since our first visit 20 years ago, including trips to Scott and Shackleton’s huts at the edge of the Ross Sea on an epic month-long semi-circumnavigation of Antarctica in 2006. We have twice visited Snow Hill Island in the Weddell Sea to marvel at breeding emperor penguins, and made 8 expeditions to South Georgia – the ‘Serengeti of the Southern Ocean’. However, in January 2013 we will not be visiting any of these places. This is an expedition designed for those who simply cannot afford to be away from home – or the office – for that length of time. Instead we will spend 5 or 6 days on the Antarctic Peninsula, the curly tail of the continent that reaches up towards the southern tip of Argentina from where we embark for our adventure aboard the Ushuaia.
So what’s special about our latest journey to Antarctica? Well for a start there will only be a maximum of 40 passengers – less than half the number that would normally be accommodated on the Ushuaia. Flexibility is the name of the game in Antarctica – just as it is on the best safaris in Africa. This will be the chance to get the best out of the photographic opportunities and for everyone to enjoy quality time with the seasoned team of Lecturers and Expeditionary Staff. In fact to help ensure the best experience possible the number of staff and expeditionary team members will be the same as if we were sailing with a full compliment of passengers. There will be no more than 8 guests per Zodiac for tours of the ice or when heading ashore – and the chance to kayak in the Southern Ocean for the more adventurous of spirit. This will be an Antarctic adventure to savour.
Angie and I will be joining the expedition to help you make the most of the many photographic opportunities that Antarctica promises – from landscapes to wildlife, icebergs to penguins, and with everyone on board keeping a close eye out for whales.
January is a great time to visit Antarctica with the prospect of sunny skies (no guarantees mind you!) and penguins with young chicks – plus those whales.
Our good friend Jonathan Truss will be accompanying us on this expedition as Artist in Residence. Many of you will have met Jonathan on safari with us in the Masai Mara – and Zambia perhaps – two of his (and our) favourite haunts. Jonathan is a great traveller, someone who will keep you amused even when you’re feeling grouchy! A great raconteur, internationally renowned wildlife artist and no mean talent on the guitar, Jonathan will be on hand to help all you budding artists to conjour up a bit of the magic of Antarctica’s icescapes on canvas. We can hardly wait for the New Year! For more information on this exciting trip check out: