By Joann Deutch, Travel Writer
ABOARD THE SEA SPIRIT IN DRAKES PASSAGE — Your adventure to the Antarctic begins before you depart. Check out the weather in Ushuaia (pronounced “ou” (as in the French where) followed by “sh” – “why”- “aa”) Argentina, your jumping off point for your expedition aboard the Sea Spirit, one of Poseidon Expeditions’ fleet. It’s spring there and the reports for Ushuaia say low 50s. Can’t be. The Antarctic is plenty cold. It turns out it’s Drakes Passage that changes everything. I’m just coming back, so here are some pointers for packing for your adventure in the Antarctic.
Don’t count the days of your trip and pack an outfit per day. Poseidon Expeditions’ website says “pack in layers”. Here are the details – You get a red “expedition parka” to keep. It’s 100 times more wind and waterproof than anything you’ve used on the ski slopes. Don’t bother packing yours. Don’t pack hiking boots for this part of your trip. Poseidon lends you “Muck Boots.” You’ll go ashore in a zodiac. You’ll be hopping off into 3 – 4 inches of water. Two landings are scheduled every day (except sea days = 3 days to cross and re-cross the Drake. To protect the pristine wild life and glaciers, you dunk and scrub your Muck Boots in a tray of disinfectant on your way on and off the Sea Spirit.
You should pack dri-fit/wet-dry type tops, then 2 or 3 fleece layers. You’ll be changing in and out of your expedition clothes during the day. Your clothes can be worn for a few days. Dressing up means, at best, some slacks, but it was mostly jeans for the younger set.
A sock discussion is a must. For this expedition to the Antarctic I bought new socks. One was a double layered hiking sock to prevent rubbing, the others were thick hiking socks. I wore two pairs of socks with the Muck Boots. For the snow camping I brought along a pair of merino wool socks – bad choice. They didn’t retain heat, and cold feet woke me up a few times. They’re going straight back to REI.
Bring your ski pants; I wore fleece lined leggings (perfect combo); a fleece lined hat; goggles and gloves – the ones where your fingers can get out to take those pictures.
Pack a swim suit for sure. Poseidon Expeditions puts you up for the first night at the Arkrur Hotel and Spa. It has 3 heated pool, and the scenery from the outdoor pools are to die for. The Sea Spirit also has a jacuzzi on the fantail and sunsets are sight to behold, especially as you sit in the jacuzzi and gaze upward.
Say yes to the “polar plunge.” You’ll want bragging rights. (This is the first in a series of articles from Joann Deutch, Travel Writer for the Van Nuys News Press & California News Press) — (For more information on this and other adventures, please visit https://poseidonexpeditions.com/antarctica/)