Antarctica is now less than nine months away and I am already starting to seriously think about what to take with me in the way of equipment as well as how to plan for the trip. Outside of the obvious must take items such as warm clothes, layers of goretex, dramamine, ipod, camera gear and gigabytes of storage just how does one plan for such a trip?
Logistically just getting to Antarctica from Melbourne Australia is no small feat. Getting there involves a flight to Sydney to catch a connecting plane to Buenos Aires in South America (around 20 hours of flying). From Buenos Aires one catches another flight to Ushuaia at the very bottom tip of South America – a roughly three and a half hour flight. From Ushuaia its two days steam aboard an Antarctica cruise ship across one of the roughest stretches of water in the world – the notorious Drake Passage. Add all that up and its a whopping 72+ hour journey not including airport waiting around time and layovers. With waiting around time its well over 80 hours. And that is just way to much time to be on the move. Of course it would be possible to get some sleep amongst all of that travel – but I don’t much like the idea of trying to get over jet lag on a ship being tossed about in huge seas. Especially not when finally arriving in Antarctica sleep is going to be hard to come by with so much to see and photograph. I learned somewhat the hard way on my travels to Iceland last year the value of layover time to rest and recuperate – I wont underestimate its importance again.
In order to make this a manageable endeavour I am going to stay a few days in Buenos Aires and meet up with my friend Martyn with whom I photographed in Iceland last year. A few days in B/A should help break up the trip and provide a little time to soak up some local atmosphere and explore some photographic possibilities. This will be my first time to South America and I am looking forward to it very much.
After three days in Buenos Aires Martyn and I are flying to Ushuaia where we will spend another couple of days exploring the small town and local surroundings before we board the ship for Antarctica. I am hoping that all of this additional time will be sufficient to overcome any jet lag and inevitable travel weariness, since we will be spending huge amounts of time awake once in Antarctica. In fact, sleep will most definitely not be on my agenda whilst we are cruising the Antarctic shoreline, so it is of paramount importance to arrive rested and ready to photograph for long periods of time during the long Antarctic twilight hours.
I have read voraciously and watched as many documentaries as I can get my hands on about photography in Antarctica. I like to research my travel destinations extensively before I arrive so that upon arrival I know where to go and what to do. This time however, much is out of my hands as we will be cruising along the peninsula with occasional zodiac landings when possible. And that makes things very difficult to formulate a plan. Unlike Iceland where I could plan to go and photograph Dettifoss and spend time there in Antarctica the target is moving. Or rather I will be moving past the target. To this end I believe the best approach is going to be to take and heed the advice of photographers who have gone before me. Listening to what they took with them in the way of cameras and lenses and what did and didn’t work for them is probably going to be the most valuable advice for a successful expedition. This is something I am curently researching and will continue to do so up until I leave in November.
The return trip post Antarctica will see a rapid departure from Ushuaia lunchtime the day we dock for Buenos Aires. I will them have to spend a couple of days in B/A waiting for a connecting flight to Sydney and then back onto Melbourne and home.I feel very privileged to be visiting one of the earth’s last true wild places. It has been a boy hood dream to visit Antarctica and it should be quite the adventure. I cant wait…