Ahoy Antarctica : A personal rendition of The White Continent
Ushuaia – The last point of civilization.
For a small cosy town at the edge of South America Ushuaia has an unparalleled landscape because of Tierra del Fuego National Park. Our hotel was located within Cerro Alarkén Natural Reserve 250 meters above sea level, surrounded by stunning panoramic views, native forests, natural terraces and green areas harmonically integrated into the environment.
When I did step down from this heaven of a place back to the airport to welcome some of our guests I couldn’t help noticing the wildlife co-existing with the Ushuaia town. I was pleasantly surprised by a drove of hares passing me by as I was waiting at the airport. Even the street dogs looked like wolves from Game of Thrones.
And I said to myself – “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
After everyone was settled, The shuttle service made it very convenient to get to the hotel and back to the city whenever you wanted. We would drive down to small Irish Pubs – just like the ones you see in movies where everyone seems to know everyone in true Irish spirit.
Though there was a language barrier while talking to the locals, they were always forthcoming and warm. Personally, I enjoyed the challenge of figuring out my way around the town. After all, what is the joy in staying in Kansas when you are all the way in Argentina.
The Majestic Explorer – Our vessel for the journey.
What the french dictated about hospitality setting a benchmark for the rest of the world to follow eons ago – that is what you’ll see being executed on this gloriously luxurious ship.
Our team on the ship – right from the Captain to the crew members – never faltered when we needed them and were at out service from the time we boarded till we landed back in Ushuaia.
Finally, the French Touch is also evident in their choice of partners, whose expertise and passion for their work is in line with our own quest for excellence: interior design by Jean Philippe Nuel, fabrics by Pierre Frey, delicate flavours from Le Palais des Thés, Hermès bath products in all staterooms and suites, spa care products by Sothy’s, and signature perfumes from Fragonard.
The White Continent – Our excursions in Antarctica.
Lady Florence Dixie, Bear Grylls, Sir Richard Burton and Ben Saunders all share one quality in common. Perhaps you do to. They’re all immensely curious. What makes them even more interesting is that they all follow their curiosity, their desire for challenge, their wish to push boundaries to its logical conclusion.
I had prepared myself for the same.
There was no point to this expedition if I was not ready for everything and anything.
At the same time I knew it was important not to stress my physical limits to an extent that it would make the journey unbearable. Specially when I was trekking to the highest peaks in the continent. But what can I say? The view was definitely worth it. So my advice to my fellow travelers – know your limits, don’t panic and just get at it.
The highlight of my time in Antarctica was The Humpback whale. What a majestic mammal. Looking at these gigantic beings dipping in and out of water is an experience for a lifetime. At first you’ll see just a fin or maybe a tail popping out and then all of a sudden the whales will do their majestic half flip.
The penguins at the same time were goofy and adorable.
Nothing like seeing them interact with their natural environment.
As I raised my glass of champagne on the icy landscapes of Antarctica
I knew for a fact these memories will last me a life time.
Masterclass with Chef Atul Kochhar.
At the end of the day, when you are back from a tiring excursion, some Rajma masala and Murgh tandoori is a blessing in disguise. One single meal and we would all feel comforted and back at home.After all, there are only few things in life that really put you at ease in a foreign land.
And after tasting such delights from Chef Kochhar’s kitchen it was only a matter of time before our travelers wanted him to conduct a Masterclass. And we had to give in, of course. It was a real pleasure looking at the Michelin Star Chef work his magic right in front of us cooking some delicious Tawa Jhinga Masala and Vaigan Katri.
This trip was work for me at the end of the day. But I can say with absolute assurance it was more than that. Of course, it helped that the open bar was at my rescue. Wilfred and his team of bartenders made sure I had a new cocktail everyday.
Much as you might have enjoyed this blog post, I cannot tell you enough that Antarctica cannot be experienced through words or images. You need your own eyes and heart to see it for themselves.
Get swallowed up in the infinite immensity of spaces of which you know nothing and which know nothing of you. Discover an unexpected discontinuity between the melancholic self you were at you home turf and the person you shall become on the white wilderness of Antarctica, in tandem with the radical discontinuity in the landscape and climate, where the very air seemed to be made of a different and sweeter substance.
You ask whether Antarctica will be all you imagined it to be. Yes, it shall be—and more than that, it extends far beyond the vague idea you have of it. After all, nothing shall compare to the first moment you see the tip of a glacier.
Take my word for it.