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Antarctica: the end of the Earth

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Antarctica: the end of the Earth

For a truly unique honeymoon, why not get adventurous and try something new? Test yourself and you as a couple and discover the wonders of Antarctica: the end of the Earth.

Climbing aboard One Ocean Expedition’s RCGS Resolute is the chance to witness first-hand some of the most sublime landscapes on the planet and the projects scientists are currently carrying out on this enigmatic continent. On any trip to Antarctica, a layover is necessary, and what better place to stop off than Buenos Aires? First-timers in the city should start their tour in the Barrio de Palermo, one of the capital’s most popular neighborhoods. Here you’ll find artists and artisans, fashion boutiques, sophisticated cocktail bars, and every kind of restaurant.

For dinner, we recommend the trendy fusion restaurant Niño Gordo. There’s also La Boca, a colorful, picturesque area of the city, brimming with life. Located close to the Río Plata River and the Buenos Aires Ecological Reserve is Puerto Madero, a cosmopolitan neighborhood home to towering skyscrapers. And the city’s most central district is the affluent La Recoleta. Its architecture and the aristocratic feel of its townhouses, nestled in lush gardens and squares, make it truly special. This is where some of the city’s best hotels are located, with Hub Porteño being one of them. This elegant boutique hotel decked out in vintage decor serves daring cuisine and boasts a terrace with stunning views.

Antarctica: the end of the Earth
Antarctica: the end of the Earth

Ushuaia, the prelude.

If Buenos Aires is – in the words of French novelist André Malraux – the capital of an empire that never existed, Patagonia is for many poets a sea. It is also the astounding prelude to Antarctica.

The Tierra del Fuego National Park is the southern part of the continent – the actual end of the Earth – depicted perfectly by Julio Verne in his novel “The Lighthouse at the End of the World”. It was established in 1960 to protect almost 69,000 hectares of marine, forest, and mountain landscapes home to coastline, lakes, valleys, sprawling peatlands, and magnificent woodlands populated by lenga beeches, Antarctic beeches, and guindo trees. A good way to take it all in is hopping aboard the End of the World Train. The railway line was initially used to transport timber to the prison hidden away in this secluded part of the world. Ushuaia itself is an industrial city, although its greatest asset can be found just beyond its borders. Only 7 km away stands the grand Martial Glacier, close to the Tierra del Fuego National Park, through which the train chugs.

Antarctica, conquering the South Pole

If there is an inhospitable, inaccessible place on the planet, it’s Antarctica. A continent of extremes, on average it’s the windiest, driest, and coldest place on Earth. Despite its harsh conditions, those fortunate enough to make it to this part of the world are lucky enough to witness its spectacular scenery. A land of rugged mountain peaks that contrast against white blankets of snow and magnificent icebergs. The wildlife lounges close by, with docile seals, penguins, and marine birds not easily scared by humans. According to the Antarctic Treaty, which has governed the continent since 1961, no country owns Antarctica. It’s a continent devoted exclusively to scientific research.

Antarctica: the end of the Earth

One Ocean Expedition, a research cruise.

More and more tourist cruises are sailing south in the summer months of the southern hemisphere, their destination the sixth continent. Yet One Ocean Expedition is not one of them. The passengers on this ship accompany scientists who make the most of these Arctic trips to conduct their innovative projects. In this way, the scientists get funding and transport, and travelers get the chance to observe first-hand the studies taking place, with presentations on board and the sharing of findings. It’s like being part of a TV documentary.

Antarctica, unlimited experiences.

Around fifty killer whales swim alongside us. Our first stop is Portal Point. The snow falls relentlessly, but that doesn’t stop everyone from taking a small hike to snap some shots of the penguins and sea lions congregating close by. Here there used to be a British Antarctica Research cabin, which was built in 1956 and is now located in the Falkland Islands Museum in Stanley. The following day we stop at the Vernadsky Research Base, which belongs to the Ukraine. In the afternoon we visit Paradise Harbour and the remains of the Argentine base Brown Station. It’s a perfect area for kayaking. Waking up in Wilhelmina Bay is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, above all to catch the sunset.

The bay is flanked by the spine of the continent – rising 2,000 meters high and completely covered in ice and snow – with Nansen and Brooklyn Islands forming the other boundaries. Here hundreds of humpback whales arrive in search of krill. And it’s not difficult to interact with them; in fact, they come to the surface barely a few meters away from the zodiacs. It’s a truly indescribable feeling. Lemaire Channel is known by some as the “Kodak Gap”, due to the huge number of photos taken of it.

The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) has developed several guidelines that visitors to Antarctica should adhere to. Some of the most well-known of the 170 rules are: do not approach wildlife closer than 4.5 meters, avoid making noise, and do not scare or disturb wildlife. Footwear should also be disinfected when boarding and disembarking boats, and visitors should not leave anything behind.

Antarctica: the end of the Earth
Antarctica: the end of the Earth

Text published in the physical NP Magazine, written and photographed by Sergi Reboredo 


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