10 December 2014

Kickin' it in Ushuaia

Antarctica is Antarctica. You never really can tell what will happen, whether you go with plan A or Z, flexibility is key. We had all of those plans taken from us because there was an accident at on the runway that we use for our operation. It had nothing to do with our operation apart from the fact that it closed our link to take on and send off our new and old passengers. Here is the Hercules that lost its landing gear and ended up blocking the runway for a few days.. No good at all. But there was a silver lining and it wasn't just the copious amounts of meat consumed.

A very sad plane. No one was hurt which was a very good thing.

Any way, you always have to make the best out of any situation. We finished our second trip as planned back in Ushuaia and then were on standby for 10 days with the ship anchores 1.5 miles out in the bay. None of us had ever spent any real time in the area, just hours or a day here and there in port so we went exploring. The best/worst thing about being out there is that a zidiac was required to get to and fro town.
You can see the baby little ship in the background.

It was one of the boys birthdays so the first thing we explored were the bars of Ushuaia. What a tour that was. Two bars in total were visited...

Next up we went to the local park by bike. Terra Del Fuego Paque Nacinales. 

Way bigger day than expected (60km or something) but a pretty sweet way to see the area. Bikes were provided by one of the passengers from our last voyage for free which was even better!

Next we got our hike on. 

All of the information givers in town said it was to hard to do alone, you need a guide.. We thought fuck that. We rolled the dice and took a taxi to where we knew the trail head was and found signs for Africa. Dream scenario!

Beaver Damnnn

The area has been invaded with beavers from Canada and from about 30 of them in 1946 there are now about 80,000 of the little guys. This is a bit of a look at the difference they make to the landscape. Those are all dead Beech Trees that don't like their feet sitting in water so they died.

Big Beavers at Laguna Esmeralda!

Mike and I thought we should get a better look and can't sit still for more than five minutes. So we followed this creek up. This is a double but crack!
And here is the view.

The next day we went for another adventure. A little closer to town we went for another taxi ride to a little less known area De Los Tempanos. This was to some glaciers and again was amazing bang for your buck. Lucky for us there were some nice Gsuchos (cowboys I guess) at the road end who were collecting horses for a rodeo in town the next day. So not only did we get some must needed beta on where we were going but we also got invited to a cool local event.

Here is a beautiful hanging valley and the Doctor making his way up the scree.

And the next day we went to the rodeo which was a pretty cool experience.

 The locals were all kickin' it because they had a public holiday the next day and we got to watch some wild horses kick ass. Also saw the biggest BBQ of my life. South Americans win when it comes to BBQ's...
Yes, that is a whole cow.

And for now, it is goodbye to civilization for a month as we leave port and head down to the Antarctic for another month to see what it has to offer us this time.

To the Antarctic we go

It's summer again so it's time to try and get a job. Earlier year at the end of summer I was lucky enough to get into some work sea kayaking off of a cruise ship. This summer I got the call back but at the beginning of the season so this means more ice, different wildlife, and more ice!
The season starts off at the Headquarters in Punta Arenas, Chile where we all meet up and go through some formalities and then we headed a little further south into Argentina to meet the Ocean Nova.

 A Pretty excited me on our way to our home for the next two months. Cheers Pablo for the picture.

This was a nervous time for me because I was about to cross the infamous Drake Passage for my first time and I have history of sea sickness. Perfect person to be working on a ship. All in all I only had to call Ralph on the big white telephone a couple of times and he always made me feel way better about the situation! Once we were down at the Antarctic Peninsular, the Drake was behind me and it was all Ice Ice Baby! The first two trips of the season were from Ushuaia back to Ushuaia spending a good four days in Antarctic waters taking people sea kayaking ideally twice a day.
 This is at Cuverville Island which is in the Gerlache Strait. This is as nice as it gets and it gets like this more than you'd think!

As you can imagine, more minds were blown as Antarctica turned it on for two more very satisfied teams of kayakers. Many photos, many penguinos, and lots of playing ice breaker in the kayaks.

 This looks very photo shopped but it's not. Honest. Ice was blue, skies were grey. This was actually an iceberg that I saw here at Portal Point in February. 

 That's the little beauty of a ship we call home at Port Lockroy (Brittains 'Base A') and a very cool ice cliff.

Just around the corner from Cuverville is this place called Orne Harbor.

It was a very good start to the season, some very nice weather and some very cool storms and some really cool encounters. Leopard Crabeater and Weddell Seals, Orca Humpback and Minke Whale, and heaps of birrrds. The team on board has been tops to.

Back row: Mike Pablo Sergio Mariano Corine Me Nigel
Front Row: Ruslan Nico Ana Loli Chica Andres
Photo stolen from Nicolas Danyau, cheers bud

 Warming up the zodiacs at Pleneau Bay.

 Chinstrap Penguin at Halfmoon Island, South Shetlands.

 Bands of sediment in ice from folding at the base of a glacier at Deception Island, South Shetlands.

Stelictites of ice. Again at deception. Did a very cool mission between Telefon Bay and Neptunes Bellows. It is the caldera of a volcano and we saw a lot that I had never seen myself.