Traveling to Antarctica – Notes From Our Expert Guides
An introspective look at Antarctica from our guides Wendy Hare & Nigel Milius
Many people are looking forward to traveling to Antarctica again, and the most excited of those to get back to the White Continent are our Antarctic guides. Recently, we caught up with two of our favorite Antarctic guides, Wendy Hare and Nigel Milius, and asked them to take us on a quick virtual trip to Antarctica and beyond through their own photos and experiences.
Nigel and Wendy have completed over 200 Antarctica trips. Nigel, an ornithologist, and naturalist works as our educational coordinator onboard, organizing our lectures and citizen science programs. Also, an ornithologist and naturalist, Wendy is passionate about all things in the natural world and has been traveling to Antarctica and guiding there since 2005. The two met birdwatching in Northern Scotland on Fair Isle and have been traveling the world together ever since.
- What is a benefit of traveling to Antarctica on a small ship?
“I often wonder, who is watching who? The bonus of small ship cruising – time to sit and wait and let those curious wee souls that are penguin chicks come to visit you. No one has told them about the 5m rule!” – Wendy, Gentoo penguin colony, Danco.
- What can you expect on a typical day in Antarctica in the field?
“Forging a path – all aboard the slow zodiacs to the ship. Brash ice packing in. Teamwork – following in the path of the zodiac in front for the easiest ride. It was clear when we landed. So swiftly, it changes. Antarctica is always an adventure.” – Wendy, Returning to the ship, Palmer Station.
- What can you expect when seeing your first penguin colony?
“Surrounded – a bustling maelstrom of Chinstraps ever moving, intent on rearing young. Senses overwhelmed with raucous sounds, pungent smells, and visual overload – which way to look? Attentive Antarctic guides working hard to maintain our best penguin etiquette with the rainbow penguins in the midst.” – Wendy, Chinstrap Penguins, Baily Head, Deception Island
- What is your favorite time of the summer season in Antarctica?
“If pushed, I would say that personally, my favorite time of the summer in Antarctica is the beginning of the season, though every part of the year has its attractions. For much of the season, unless you are an insomniac, the sun does not really set. Then, sometime in February, it suddenly does! Sunsets down here can often be truly amazing. Because of the latitude, they can last a long time, and apart from the fantastic skies, the ice, mountains, and sometimes the wildlife, add another stunning dimension.” – Nigel, Sunset near Danger Islands.
- Most people go to Antarctica only once, but you’ve been traveling to Antarctica for years. Is it the same every time? “About 5 years ago, we ran a photographic charter to South Georgia on the Ocean Nova. Though I would not really consider myself a photographer, on this trip, surrounded by enthusiasts, I got inspired to get artistic! St Andrews Bay is home to a large King Penguin colony, with beautiful scenery as a backdrop, the two key components to everything I love about South Georgia. One of the reasons I love going back to both here and Antarctica is that there is always something new to enjoy and always something new to learn, even in familiar places.” – Nigel, King Penguins at St Andrews Bay, South Georgia.
- For you as a guide, what is the benefit of cruising Antarctica in a small group of people? “One of the many things I love about working on the small ships with Antarctica21 is the opportunities it presents to go for hikes. Frequently we explore new places (I went to several last season), and because we have such a high staff ratio, we can offer different adventures at landing sites. This spreads an already small group out even further, which is better for everyone, and you can really begin to experience the solitude of the great white continent. I think this photo gives something of that feeling, though no picture is ever like being there!” – Nigel.
Our 2022 – 2023 Antarctic air-cruise season has launched and is now open for booking. If you’re thinking of traveling to Antarctica to explore the White Continent and our other destinations with guides like Wendy and Nigel, contact us, and we will be happy to explore our trips with you.