As someone who has truly been bitten by the Arctic bug, I was chomping at the bit to see Antarctica. And as the newest member of the Quark sales team, I was looking forward to seeing a Quark expedition in action. Like most salespeople it is easier to sell something you have experienced and even easier if you are genuinely passionate about it. Would it stack up to my experiences in the Arctic? Would I be able to sell Antarctica as passionately as I can sell the Arctic? And more importantly, would I get sick crossing the Drake Passage? (Yes. Yes. And NO!)
I overheard one passenger say that she had brought four books to read during the voyage but there was so much to do and so much to see that she didn't have time to crack open even the first book. To me, that sums up the experience of seeing Antarctica. A Quark Expeditions trip to Antarctica is sensory overload and I definitely ‘came back different.' Based on the many conversations I had with guests as well as having read all the customer feedback surveys, I wasn't the only one! Not only did I return with friendships and memories that I will take to my grave but I also returned with a profound respect and sense of deep appreciation for the world's last great wilderness.
Ice: In Antarctica, it's all about scale and colour of these amazing icescapes. The blue ice totally “blew” me away. They may measure in excess of 25 cubic miles whereas the Arctic masses are measured in mere yards. 90% of the all the ice and 70% of all the fresh water on the planet is in Antarctica, these stats are quite staggering and completely dwarf ice caps as massive as even those found in Greenland. But stats are stats; you need to experience the sheer scale of enormity, the texture, the colour and the movement of the ice – photos and video simply don't capture its immensity.
Wildlife: To see wildlife in Antarctica you just have to be there! Thousands of penguins, hundreds of seals, plenty of whales and unique bird life galore – the soaring albatross or the leopard seal patrolling the shore will stay in my memory forever. To stand in the middle of a large penguin colony and witness parents taking turns waddling from their nest to the water to gather enough krill (which can take days), to then return to find their hungry chicks (amongst thousands of others) and regurgitate the krill into their chick's mouths is a sight to behold; the 'circle of life' takes on a new meaning. If frequency of sighting and quantity of wildlife is high on your list then Antarctica is your destination. When I guide in the Arctic I tell guests that we cannot absolutely guarantee we will see polar bears, narwhals, musk ox, belugas, wolf and walrus (which is what makes those sightings so unique and magical), BUT seeing an abundance of wildlife in Antarctica on every excursion is guaranteed!
Needless to say, I can't wait until my next trip – I have been well and truly bitten by the Antarctic bug. Bring on South Georgia, the Falklands, and let's cross the circle while we're at it. This trip was just the tip of the iceberg (pardon the pun). And yes, now I am more than a salesperson for Quark, I am an evangelist!
For anyone considering a trip to Antarctica I defy you to look at photos and watch video and not feel compelled to visit this uniquely special part of the world. And if that still doesn't do it for you, call me directly and I would be happy to share first-hand what to expect (1.416.645.8252).