Settling in and strapping myself into my seat on the airplane, it was hard to get my mind around the fact that we were finally on our way.
Had I done enough? Had I prepared myself well enough physically to meet the challenges of what was about to happen? I was soon to find out. We had been warned that once we were out on the snow and ice, there was no turning back. It was float or sink simple as that.
Our flight to Buenos Aires would take 19 hours, which would include a stopover in Rio . More of the journey was spent out of my seat than in it, either to go to the microscopically small toilet, or to chat with fellow team mates. We all eventually ended up in the staff galley at the back of the plane chatting and laughing with the flight attendants whilst getting a sneak preview as to what was for lunch and supper. 15 hours later, and we were making our descent into Rio. We wouldn’t be able to take a tour of the city, but would instead be confined to a airport, waiting for our connecting flight to Buenos Aires. We passed the time by visiting some of the duty free shops and having a snack and a much needed Latte at one of the cafes. After catching our connecting flight, we landed in Buenos Aires and, one bus ride later we arrived at the hotel where we would be spending the night. Then next morning, we all met up in reception to return to the airport to catch the next flight that would really be taking us into the unknown. We were starting the leg of our journey that would begin to take us further and further away from civilization. Heading back to the airport, we were embarking on the last part of our trip before boarding the ship that would take us into the wilderness.
We began yet another 4 hour flight that would be taking us to the most southerly town in the world, Ushuaia. Coming from a part of the world that can reach 50 degrees in the summer and that’s not even factoring in the humidity, we were told that once we’d landed in Ushuaia, that we would definitely feel the difference in temperature, but I don’t think any of us really had any idea. Climbing off the plane when we arrived, we entered into the baggage collection area where I started to get a vague idea…the goose bumps starting to show themselves on my skin. Looking through a glass door to the side that led to the outside, I caught a scene that took my breath away. Jaw dropping beauty met my eyes in the form of huge, snow capped mountains with green, lush valleys at its feet. Steeping outside with our bags however, we very quickly forgot about the scenery for just a second as we all scrambled for our jackets to throw on as quickly as we could. The air was icy cold and without protective clothing of some sort to wear, the elements would just cut right through whatever ineffectual garb you decided to don that day. After oohing and aahing about our surroundings, we boarded another bus to the hotel near the harbor where we would be spending another night. Tomorrow we would be boarding the ship, but for now we were looking forward to dropping our bags off at our hotel and going about exploring our surroundings while trying out some of the local cuisine. We were greeted by a characterful log cabin style town boasting the backdrop of these gorgeous snow capped mountains. After booking into the hotel and spending the afternoon walking around and even doing some shopping, we settled down in the hotel for the night.
The next morning early we rose bright and early to meet in the restaurant for breakfast. At 8:30 we boarded yet another bus that would be taking us into the Tierra del Fuego National Park, which spans 63,000 hectares that covers the southern tip of the Andes. Driving into the park, one is at a loss for words to describe the incredible beauty of the mountains and the lush greenery surrounding you on all sides. After spending the morning walking our boots in that we would be using in Antarctica and taking dozens of photo’s, we made our way back to the hotel to collect our bags. We were due to board the ship at 3:30 that afternoon and we all couldn’t wait!