A photographer’s story by Anais Afrika Rekus
Around the World at 80: An Unforgettable Detour to Antarctica
Two best friends, Sandy and Ellie, set off on a dream adventure around the world in 80 days at 80 years old visiting all seven contients.
Two best friends, Sandy and Ellie, set off on a dream adventure around the world in 80 days at 80 years old. Unfortunately, they didn’t make the trip at 80 due to the pandemic, but no one could stop these women – they did it at 81 and are still on the run! They began this grand adventure on January 11, 2023 with a flight from Dallas, Texas, to Buenos Aires. Their next stop? Antarctica.
Sandy and Ellie received some coverage before the trip, and CBS Nightly News called them in Ushuaia and scheduled filming when they arrived in London a few weeks after their trip to Antarctica. They became famous overnight for embarking on this journey. ‘’You’re the traveling grannies!’’ a stranger said to them when they touched ground in Los Angeles. After being featured in the news and eventually going viral on social media, it was inevitable to be recognized across the globe – from California to Japan.
To accomplish their goal of visiting the wonders of the world on all seven continents in 80 days, they needed to find the fastest way to get to and from Antarctica, so Sandy and Ellie naturally chose the 6-day / 5-night Antarctica Express Air-Cruise, one of the shortest itineraries to get you to and from the Seventh Continent and the most economical option. This expedition includes a one-way, 2-hour flight from Antarctica to Punta Arenas, Chile, to save you the 2-day return crossing of the Drake Passage so Sandy and Ellie could continue continent-hopping around the globe.
Although for most people who visit Antarctica, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event, however for Ellie, it was her second time! As a documentary photographer, one of her favorite moments was seeing adorable penguins at Half Moon Island and being able to photograph the sheer vastness of the icebergs and glaciers.
‘’It is truly breathtaking to see so many amazing sites – the water, the ship, zodiacs, mountains, glaciers, icebergs, penguins, seals… I just stood there with a 360º view and took it all in,’’ Ellie remembers.
‘’There is no other place that is comparable to Antarctica! Although the Drake Passage was a bummer, we were rockin’ and a-rollin’ and a-slippin’ and a-slidin’. Antarctica stands alone among all places in the world,’’ Ellie said excitedly.
‘’One of the challenges of this trip was the 20-kilo limit to travel to Antarctica by flight, but we had a total of 30 flights to make, and it helped us pack only the essentials for our trip. When you’re traveling for that long, you don’t want much weight,’’ said Ellie.
Reflecting on the trip, Ellie contemplates, ‘’The most valuable thing we learned from this trip is the goodness in humanity. People are basically good, regardless of their culture or political views, but they want to be friends. There is goodness in humanity, and we must trust humanity.’’
Sandy and Ellie are already planning for their next adventure. In 2024, the theme will be ‘’We are 82 and travel we can do,’’ says Sandy, ‘’We’ll tour as many places and as many wonders we can do by continent, and South America is our first one.’’ You can follow their adventures on Instagram and TikTok.