The White Continent, the final frontier, the planet’s most remote location – whatever names come to mind when you think of Antarctica, the emotions this place stirs are always the same. A sense of awe, a feeling of curiosity, a great unknown and a longing to explore.
Once reserved for only scientists and the world’s most intrepid explorers, expeditions to Antarctica have been quickly gaining in popularity and now every summer it’s possible to visit this sprawling land mass on long boat cruises from Argentina and New Zealand.
From a photographer’s point of view, no other place comes close to being as dramatic and overwhelming as Antarctica. Ancient glaciers tumble into the sea in between black-rock cliffs. Icebergs float majestically in calm bays, casting blue tinges and perfect reflections across the water. Even amateurs will come away with fantastic pictures.
The abundant marine life is unlike any other place on earth. Orcas swim next to crabeater seals, with Gentoo penguins playing in the wake of breaching humpback whales. Migrating birds approach humans with keen interest. The lack of people here keeps the animals innocent and playful, allowing for unique encounters not found anywhere else.
We spent 10 nights exploring the final frontier, sea kayaking, hiking, camping and even swimming on the Antarctic Peninsula. We crossed from Ushuaia onboard the Russian research vessel Akademik Ioffe, under operation by One Ocean Expeditions and this adventure instantly became the most remarkable travels of our 10 years on the road. This is our photo journey to Antarctica, the white continent and final frontier.
Every year humpback whales migrate to Antarctica in the summer months to feed on krill. While whale watching tours are popular around the world, the chance to see so many humpbacks in one place is unique to the Peninsula. In this picture four humpbacks breach at the same time in the Gerlache Strait.
Lenticular clouds are one of nature’s most curious phenomena. These stationary clouds are formed when warm air collides with mountains, rising above and cooling rapidly. Condensation forms, and the clouds form cylindrical shapes, which have been associated with UFOs over the years. In Antarctica we had two full days of sensational lenticular clouds, which provided fantastic photo opportunities.
Iceberg Straight Ahead
The opportunity to jump in a kayak and paddle around the calm bays is a fantastic experience. Sea lions, penguins and whales come right up to your kayak, and the scenery is simply breathtaking. There’s also no better way to get a real feeling of how enormous the floating icebergs can be than from the water’s level. Sea kayaking in Antarctica is an experience not to be missed.
Cruising The Lemaire Channel
The Lemaire Channel off the Antarctic Peninsula has been a formidable challenge for ships’ captains for decades. This narrow stretch of water is bordered by high cliffs and is often filled with chunks of sea ice. Here the Akademik Ioffe, a Russian research vessel operated by One Ocean Expeditions, expertly navigates this spectacular channel.
For those with a sense of adventure, the chance to go camping in Antarctica is a bucket list item that will be sure to excite. We spent the night sleeping in bivy sacks on Hovgaard Island in perfect conditions, and were lucky enough to capture the night sky in all its glory. With no light pollution except for the expedition ship cruising off of the island, the Milky Way put on quite a show. To capture a photo like this you need a sturdy tripod like the 190 Carbon Fibre. Check out Manfrotto’s amazing selection of tripods.
The Whale’s Tail
While on a sea kayaking excursion in the Gerlache Strait a huge pod of humpback whales came right up to our group of intrepid travellers and put on quite a show, breaching, spy-hopping and diving in every direction. This kayaker had an amazing close encounter with this humpback as it showed its tail on the way down to the depths. These kinds of experiences are commonplace in Antarctica.
There are literally millions of penguins living in Antarctica, and they are completely relaxed when it comes to humans being in their territory. One of the most enjoyable things to do is simply sit down on a rock or in the snow and observe these cute creatures going about their lives. Here a Gentoo penguin feeds its young.