What I have seen. What I have heard. What I have smelled. I have been searching for the words to describe my November, 2014 three week trip on the Polar Pioneer. I travelled with 49 other photographers and a crew of 22 on an ice strengthened ship constructed in Finland in 1982. Our destinations were the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island and the Antarctic Peninsula.
Our journey covered over 3,400 nautical miles and as you can see entailed many stops. The primary purpose of the expedition was photography. Two professional photographers, Andy Biggs from the U.S. and Joshua Holko from Australia, chartered the ship and, it seemed filled about 2/3 of the group, with the remaining travelers booking the trip through the operator, Aurora Expeditions. I chose this expedition for a couple of reasons. First, Antarctica was the last continent that I had yet to visit. And second, my experience in the arctic a year before convinced me that a smaller ship was more productive for photography. The Polar Pioneer is one of the last "small" ships running these expeditions.
The ship, constructed in 1982 as a research vessel was refitted for touring in 2000. The crew was entirely composed of Russians. Apparently, they are the acknowledged masters of navigating the ice. I must say, the trip was run in a very professional, comfortable but not fancy, and safe manner. As with my experience in Svalbard in 2013, a big part of a successful expedition is due to the expedition leader. In our case, Judd Hill from Australia, was tireless in planning for the daily journey. Along with our experienced captain Yuri, they adjusted, seemingly on an hourly basis to keep us out of bad weather and into good light and great photo opportunities. And a special tip of the hat to Eric Gronningsaeter, the voyages naturalist who was always willing to sit down and help me identify birds and animals. Not only did he know his stuff, but he is a pretty good photographer, as well.
As I mentioned in the opening, I have been struggling with how to describe this vast part of the globe. I thought it was interesting that when in the arctic, we were able to sail beyond the 82nd parallel north. You are considered to be in Antarctica when you pass the 60th parallel south and we only got below the 65th parallel. The Antarctic continent is huge.
In order to add some color to the photographs I have included a number of short video clips. Non professional, for sure, I hope they capture some of the context and sounds of the incredible things I experienced. Unfortunately, I couldn't think of how to present the smell of penguin poop, but perhaps that is good for you.
I have organized the galleries around the five major parts of the trip: Our gathering and departing Ushuaia, Argentina, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island, the Antarctic and the journey home over the Drake Passage. The galleries can be found HERE.
If you click on one of the galleries, you can then click on the slideshow button in the upper right corner and it will play the photos and videos in full screen mode. Best if you have a decent internet connection. Otherwise you can browse the thumbnails or click through each photo/video as you wish.
I hope you enjoy the show, and more importantly, I hope you come away with an appreciation of what may be the last pristine part of the planet.
And, finally, I used my gps logger most of the time. For those times when it was on, here are the locations of the images in the galleries: