Patagonia & Antarctica
March, 2014

Patagonia & Antarctic map Antarctic peninsula There's the 1%, then there's the much more select group I just joined - those who visit Antarctica*. Even if the other 1% control their disproportionate share of the world's wealth and resources, my percentage controls the memories and marvels of this vast, white continent, an experience unlike any other encountered with a passport with no more spaces left for stamping. My eyes marveled at the vast expanses of white on all sides…at penguins, easily mistaken for fish at first, hopping above and diving into the water…at plumes of blowing whales, their lumbering black bodies making fleeting appearances. My stomach has felt the uplifting of 20-30-foot waves in Drake Passage and unceremonious descent seconds after. My nose retains the indescribable scent, Eau de Penguin Poop.

Don't expect to stay at a resort. Only research stations are inhabited, more manned in the summer (November to April) than winter. These are in East Antarctica, 89% of the continent with 4,500-feet thick ice and conditions only the hardiest and well-supported dare encounter. This coldest, driest and highest of continents belongs to no one. International treaty dedicates it ostensibly to science and peace (although this may not necessarily be the case). It's 99% ice, .4% exposed rock, bigger than Australia and bigger than Europe, one and a half times the size of the USA. Boats like the Ortelius I was on visit the peninsula that extends northwest toward Argentina.

Since I was going all the way to the end of the earth, I figured I should see as much as possible, so spent the first two weeks in Patagonia.

*35,000 each year according to the people who keep track of this kind of thing ( That's actually .0005% - 5 ten-thousandths of one percent of the world’s population.

Ortelius | Zodiac outings | Whiteness | Patagonia | Glaciers | Wildlife