This will be my last blog post for the next ten days or so as I just received word that after significant delays a weather window has finally opened up for our Emperor Penguin group flight to base camp at Union Glacier in Antarctica. As soon as I finish up this post I am headed to the airport for the four hour flight down to the blue ice and the deep interior of Antarctica. From basecamp at Union Glacier its another four an a half hour flight in a smaller twin otter aircraft out to the remote sea ice and the largest Emperor Penguin colony in the world.
I am really excited to be heading back to the interior of Antarctica. This rarely visited part of the continent is one of incredible beauty that very people ever get to see and experience. The bonus of photographing Emperor Penguins with a very small group (there are just five of us in total) is the icing on the very sweet cake. It has been five years since I first dreamt up the idea of taking a small group on a dedicated photographic expedition to Antarctica’s largest Emperor colony and a full three years since I first began planning this expedition. It has also been a full year since I conducted my scouting trip to the interior in preparation for this expedition. To finally be departing with a such a small dedicated group of passionate photographers is both thrilling and exciting.
A few words on logistics for this expedition as to date this trip represents the most complicated, most difficult, and most weather dependant (as well as highest cost) trip I have ever undertaken. Our flight from Punta Arenas to Union Glacier and basecamp in Antarctica is on a Russian Ilyushin aircraft. This massive cargo plane is still fitted with its jump seats (for passengers) but is also used to ferry all of the equipment needed for the expedition to Basecamp. On arrival at Union Glacier we will land on a naturally occurring blue ice runway. From our Basecamp at Union Glacier we will spend a day or so acclimatizing (temperatures at basecamp vary between -10 and -30 Celsius in the summer) and preparing our equipment before we take a smaller dedicated twin-otter aircraft on another four and half hour flight to our advance camp at Gould bay and the largest Emperor Penguin colony in the world. This camp puts us in one of the most isolated and remote locations anywhere on the planet so everything we might need in case of any eventuality or emergency has to be carried in with us. And of course, on departure, we take everything with us (even human waste) so absolutely nothing is left behind. We will spend approximately a week camping and photographing at the colony before we pack and up and reverse engineer our way back to South America.
Being this remotely isolated in Antarctica means there is no internet or cell coverage so the next update should be late November all going well. Image below of our plane having just landed on the ice at Union Glacier from last years 2015 scouting trip.What about a Future Expedition? Some of you have already emailed me and asked if I will run this expedition again in the future. The answer at this stage is I am investigating the possibility of a second expedition in November 2018 that would combine the Emperor Penguin expedition with an optional extension for landscape photography into the interior via snow mobiles (I also scouted this last year) with the possibility of a further extension visit to the South Pole. I will post more on this should I be able to pull it all together around the middle of next year. In the meantime, if you want to be amongst the first to be notified of updates to this future expedition then its best to just register your interest with me now via email. There is no obligation at this point.