So, this trip was a long time in the making.  After Europe/Moscow in 2012, Carol wanted our next trip to be to Antarctica.  He also wanted to include Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, even though both of those cities offered very little tourism attractions.  He encountered a degree of difficulty in finding excursions that would meet his desires; the closest he came was talking to a guide that had gone on many trips to Antarctica, hiking, kayaking, photography, and camping for 3 weeks at a time.  Yeah, like that’s gonna happen.

    One day during lunch with my Habitat friends, John Gibb was telling us about his latest trip to Turkey with Grand Circle Tours.  I jokingly asked if they did cruises, to which he replied, “Yeah, the catalog is on the passenger seat of my van.  Take it, browse through it.”  Didn’t take me long to find out that GCT does indeed go to Antarctica, four days of it with twice daily attempts to get the passengers on land (weather permitting, of course.)

    Well, the rest is history.  The trip was everything we were hoping for and more.  Weather was beyond fantastic, crew and program leader awesome, adventures beyond description by words.  AND, we’re already booked for our next adventure, to the British Isles in August/September 2014, as that was the agreement:  “I’ll go where you want to go, and then you’ll go where I want to go.”

And these waves don’t even come near the 15 ft. ones on the Drake passage going south, nor the 30 ft. ones coming back. These photos were shot from the portholes in our cabin, which are bolted shut during the Drake passage.

    International laws says that humans must stay 15 ft. away from the penguins and other animals.  But penguins don’t read, thus they don’t follow the law.  Some are very curious and will approach us, while most just carry on with their normal routine....of basking in the sun, feeding their young, running away from their young, and/or chasing each other just because  (territorial rights, I guess).  The black penguins are adults, the fluffy grey ones are the children, who feed from their mother’s mouth.  Penguins have their own sounds, something between a chicken and a duck......and at times will crow like roosters, though I was never able to catch one crowing on my camera.  But it’s the same effect: chin lifted to the sky, beak pointed upward and LOUD crowing.  And remember, I don’t work for National Geographic.

    Yep, we’re going all the way south, flying into Buenos Aires, Argentina, then flying again to Ushuaia at the very tip of the South American continent. 

    We then board the Corinthian to go SET FOOT on all those little red dots at the very bottom of the map.

Watch this short video to HEAR what penguins sound like.  You’ll hear the crowing in the background from time to time, coming from one like the one below.

Grand Circle Tours cater toward learning, thus the expedition team gave numerous informative talks during the two sailing days (each way) between Ushuaia and the Antarctic Continent.  I attended a few, but only took photos of our group director’s talks.  Little did we know that the group directors would choose info from their talks to use as  charades with us passenger victims.  Check out Feb. 10 for the hilarious results of their choices.

Check out the size of those icebergs....and remember that only 1/10th is above the surface.  Icebergs are fresh water, since  they broke off glaciers.