Kayaking in Antarctica yes or no ?

I read a lot about kayaking in Antarctica on the internet prior to my trip and eventually decided to give it a chance. I never done kayaking in my life, so it’s special to try it a first time in a place most people don’t start their kayaking career to say the least.
Kayaking was fun and much easier than I thought it would be.
It was a great experience however since I was in Antarctica on a 9 days trip with only 4 days in Antarctica itself (because the other days you spend on the boat making the crossing over the Drake Passage) I don’t recommend it to anyone who’s going for a similar trip, here is why, first of all it’s not cheap and in a short period, kayaks only go out a few times, when weather conditions permit, this means no heavy wind, snow etc,…
Also you have to make a choice and this is the part I didn’t like.
If you go kayaking, other people go with zodiac on land making a continental landing for example. If you come so far to Antarctica, the last thing you don’t want to miss is a continental landing, so you can actually officially say you set foot on the Antarctic Mainland. I only have been kayaking once and enjoyed it, but in my opinion its more worth considering doing kayaking if you go on a longer Antarctica cruise, those of 12 or 13 days, these cruises visit more Islands and you can skip a zodiac excursion to one or more islands and go for the kayak option then to skip continental landings on a short expedition like the one I did.

The thing is, I read on the Internet on several blogs, that it’s a must do, and that it’s a great experience, to be honest for me the experience of kayaking was indeed great as it was my first time ever.
Is the wildlife, the snow, the ice, the water nicer seen from kayak then from a zodiac?
In my opinion not, the views are a bit different cause you get to see things from a different angle or get up close to wildlife, like seals sleeping on the ice shelfs  then you see it from the deck of the ship or while you in a zodiac.

Kayaking boat were for 2 persons

Kayaking boat were for 2 persons

p1080051

Here I am in the front saying hi, to the camera

Once you go for Kayaking, you get the gear from the kayak crew leader.
The green life jacket that I have (picture below) is only for kayaking.
You get another life jacket when you go on zodiac excursion and there is another one in your cabin for use in case of emergency on the boat.
The gloves are with holes so you can shove it over the paddlestick and they protect your own gloves against splashing water. You also get a rubber suit, with rubber kayak shoes.
The kayak shoes you only use when you go out kayaking, when you go out with a zodiac on land , you take other boots which is also provided by the crew the first day when you are on the ship. So when you go for a Antarctica cruise, you just come with your regular shoes as the rest is provided anyway.

Still on the boat in my kayaking gear waiting for the kayaks to be pulled out

Still on the boat in my kayaking gear waiting for the kayaks to be pulled out

img_20161210_102602

picture taken with my phone

Penguins on ice

Penguins on ice

seals sleeping, they don't seem to care about our presence

seals sleeping, they don’t seem to care about our presence

pp0a9021

img_20161210_110810

 

 

Paradise Bay

PARADISE BAY – BROWN STATION

The first visit to mainland Antarctica was the continental landing at Brown station, an abandoned Argentine research station along Paradise Bay, recognisable by its Big Argentine flag painted on the roof aswell as the side walls of  some of the cabins.
Here I set my first steps on Antarctic land and spotted the first penguins on land.
The ortelius boat was anchored and with a zodiac I arrived on land.
After walking around for a few hours admiring the scenery, observing the behaviour of penguins around people, I knew it was something out of the ordinary and it gave me a privileged feeling of being at a spot not many people have visited yet.

This visit was in the afternoon, as in the morning I have been kayaking, one of the options you can subscribe yourself for when going on a Antarctica cruise. More here

img_20161210_160532

Brown station

pp0a8068

Argentinian flag painted on the roof of the main cabin

arrival by zodiac

arrival by zodiac

Gentoo Penguins at Brown station

Gentoo Penguins at Brown station

img_20161210_163537

Mountain reflecting in the water, just like a mirror

 

great view on Paradise Bay

great view on Paradise Bay

Expedition Vessel Ortelius waiting for us to come back by zodiacs later

Expedition Vessel Ortelius waiting for us to come back by zodiac later

pp0a7377

Chinstrap Penguins

Chinstrap Penguins

Chinstrap Penguins jumping out of the water on the rocks, amazing

Antarctica The 7th Continent

ANTARCTICA

Antarctica, the white continent or 7th continent as it is called would be my first trip to a Polar region. After getting interested more and more the past 2 years I decided to go for it and to book a trip and prepare myself to this epic journey to the south of our planet.
Like most people I flew to Ushuaia (more here) and stayed there 3 days before embarking to the vessel leaving for Antarctica the Ortelius. After leaving the Beagle channel you soon be in open sea passing the Drake passage which in most cases can be a rough passage, with big waves crashing against the boat or even on the deck. The crew of my expedition told us that they were glad that the Drake has been good to us and everyone was happy about it, cause a rough sea is no fun at all when many people get seasick or when you have to lay down in your cabin bed for 2 days barely able to sleep well with all the shaking and bumping of the ship. It’s the roughest sea in the world but this time it was calm. Passing the Drake is about 2 days before finally entering Antarctica and spotting the first icebergs and different birds flying around the ship like the many Wandering Albatrosses.
Most expedtionships do one continental landing where you actually set foot on mainland Antarctica instead of the many Antarctic islands. I was lucky to have 2 continental landings one at Brown Station in Paradise Bay and one at Neko Harbour.

Port Ushuaia from where Vessels leave for Antarctica

Port Ushuaia from where Vessels leave for Antarctica

Drake Passage, let the adventure begin

Drake Passage, let the adventure begin

The bridge from the ship seen from the main deck

The bridge from the ship seen from the main deck

first Iceberg in the distance

first Iceberg in the distance

img_20161210_081600

Passing the South Shetland Islands

img_20161209_213618

more iceberg, I'm getting closer

more iceberg, I’m getting closer

the first penguin spotted on a ice shelf

the first penguin spotted on an ice shelf

our ship got the attention of a seal

our ship got the attention of a seal

reaching Antarctica !!!

reaching Antarctica !!!

 

 

Exploring Bishkek

Bishkek Kyrgyzstans capital was where I stayed during my time in Kyrgyzstan, from here I did excursions to Son Kul lake and Cholpon Ata at lake Issyk Kul.

I didn’t spend much of my time in Bishkek itself, as full day excursions outside Bishkek filled up my time, but I did visited the centre of Bishkek, maybe not enough to write a whole blog about it. Continue reading

My Top 3 Adventurous travels

Image

Top 3 Adventure

Adventure in the Mountains

Adventure in the Mountains

 

My Top 3 Adventurous Travels till now are my visits to following countries :

  • Trip to Peru with the crazy flights over the Nazca lines (link)
  • Bolivia Salt flats of Uyuni and the way to get there (link)
  • Darvaza Turkmenistan’s hell on earth  (link)
Darvaza my Turkmenistan Adventure

Darvaza my Turkmenistan Adventure

 

On Adventurous trips I saw people having some better equipment with them then I had, from backpacks, to sleeping bags, solid hiking shoes, torches, all kinds of gear.
A good blog where you can read about what gear to take on your travels is thesmartlad.com/

Check it out !

 

 

 

 

Ruh Ordo Issyk-Kul Lake

About 260 km from Bishkek lays Cholpon Ata at Issyk-Kul lake, the largest lake in Kyrgyzstan and what would become my second trip which Apple Hostel arranged for me.
My own driver, private tour in a 4×4 off we go. Continue reading

Son Kul Lake

KYRGYZSTAN

 

Me with Kyrgyz flagpole in Son Kul

Me with Kyrgyz flagpole in Son Kul

After my time in Kazakhstan it was time to go to Kyrgyzstan. I took a flight with Air Astana from Almaty to Bishkek, it was about 50 minutes before entering a new country.
In Bishkek I stayed at the Apple Hostel with Aigul who’s a smart and funny girl running the place. I was welcomed by her and the rest of the staff. She organised tours for me and one of the tours was to The Burana Tower and Son Kul Lake. A 2 day trip with overnight in a real Kyrgyz yurt. It was a first time experience for me to sleep in a Yurt and the night passed very quickly as I felt asleep immediately after a long day in the car driving over the mountain passes to get there. Continue reading

Almaty

BAM BAM KazakhstaN !!

P1060967

Almaty was the former capital of Kazakhstan and the 2nd city I visited in the country.
I have only spend 2 days in the city and  found it a very busier city then Astana, alot of traffic, but taking the metro is a good way to move around and not many people seem to take the metro, it was empty everytime I took the tube. Continue reading

Astana

ASTANA

Last year I visited 3 of the Stan countries and this year I visited the other 2, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. you can argue about how many Stan countries there are but “the Stans” was the name given to the 5 ex-sovjet republics who end all on “stan”. I’m not counting Pakistan, Afghanistan in this category. The biggest Stan would be Kazakhstan and I got to visit Astana which is the current modern capital, which will be hosting the World expo next year in 2017 and the former capital Almaty (more on this in a future post)
When you visit a country you need to make a choice in what you want to see and as for now I wanted to specifically go see these 2 cities. Continue reading

Ta Prohm

Another Temple that I visited in the Angkor complex was Ta Prohm with its huge trees overgrowing big parts of the temple. The trees are in unique shapes and I also saw the most famous tree of them all, the one that got featured in the Tomb Raider movie with Angelina Jolie. Some people call it “The Tomb Raider Temple”.
The Bayon temple is known for its faces this one for its big Banyan trees. So many different temples to visit and each one is different like Beantey Srei with its Monkey statues is in a well-preserved state. Less tourist here but surrounded by the jungle its a must see and well worth to take your time and have a look.

Ta Prohm entrance

Ta Prohm entrance

P1040310

Tree overgrowing the temple walls

P1040312

P1040324

This is the famous tree from the Tomb Raider movie scene with Angelina Jolie

This is the famous tree from the Tomb Raider movie scene with Angelina Jolie

P1040345

P1040332 P1040328

P1040352 P1040347

P1040356

GOING TO THE NEXT TEMPLE BANTEAY SREI

IMG_2447

Monkey carvings

P1040221

Entrance Banteay Srei

P1040227 P1040241 P1040243 P1040244 P1040249 P1040251

This is a zebra caterpillar I guess 🙂