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Antarctic Peninsula

Olivia Zimmerman

Expedition Ship
Ocean Endeavour

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Antarctic Peninsula

Olivia Zimmerman

From the moment we left the pier in Ushuaia and began our journey through the Beagle Channel, it was very apparent that we were in one of the world’s most stunning and unique regions. The sun-kissed peaks of the Martial Mountains in Tierra del Fuego serve as the gateway to the Antarctic region, and it truly felt as if the beauty of the following ten days heightened with each passing moment.

The excitement aboard the Ocean Endeavour mounted as we settled into our new temporary home and made our way towards the Antarctic Peninsula. Seabirds soared past the panoramic windows of the lounge at remarkable speeds and the rolling waves of the Drake Passage set the tone for our extraordinary expedition.

Our expert guides led fascinating lectures on the wildlife, geology, and history of the Antarctic region as we sailed towards the world’s most remote continent. The first distant iceberg was spotted, the first group of penguins were seen porpoising, and then we had arrived.

What astounded me most as we navigated through the South Shetland Islands and along the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula was the remarkable array of landscapes. Towering icebergs, some miles in length and in seemingly every shade of blue, drifted past. The other-worldly landscape was breathtaking at every turn.

We explored islands dotted with penguin rookeries and resilient plant life on Barrientos Island, hiked up snowy hills for indescribable viewpoints in Cierva Cove and Mikkelson Harbor, and enjoyed the fascinating and profound beauty of the landscapes under the Midnight Sun.

I celebrated Christmas Eve with a divinely unique stand up paddleboarding session. Penguins swam beneath us, we paddled past resting Weddell and crabeater seals, and as we made our way through an inlet, snow began to fall. We took a moment to sit and meditate in our setting, surrounded by an unparalleled quietness and sense of peace.

Each day had such an abundance of wildlife, with multiple species of whales, seals, and penguins greeting us at every turn. On a particularly whale-rich day, two humpbacks took an interest in our ship and we were graced with over an hour of captivating whale activity as they made their way closer and closer to us, eventually stationing themselves directly under the outdoor viewing areas of the vessel. Shortly after this unforgettable experience, we were surrounded by a lively pod of orcas.

And the penguins, oh the penguins. Those quirky, busy little animals stole my heart.

The Lemaire Channel and Port Charcot were truly staggering in their beauty. After a sunny and surprisingly warm hike around this port on the north coast of Booth Island, we enjoyed a barbecue lunch on the sun deck.

The Ocean Endeavour was the perfect vessel from which to experience the charismatic wildlife and dramatic scenery of the Antarctic region. We were in expert hands, and the passion and enthusiasm of the staff was demonstrated during every excursion, lecture and conversation.

I have fallen in love with this polar region, and I know I will return to Antarctica someday. It is a destination that transforms you, one that is impossible to forget. Photos cannot capture it, words can’t do it justice, but it is a place in the world where pure magic exists.

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