“Our Team Travels” (OTT) by Voyages Groupe Ideal

Welcome to the very first in our series of “Our Team Travels” where we share our team members travel experiences from across the globe.

The following is an account of our team member Rona Cukier’s Antarctica Adventure.

A Cruise Expedition in Antarctica

Do you ever want to get away from everything and take a vacation that is experiential in nature; something different and enriching to somewhere you’ve never been?

Well that is what Rona and Ed Cukier set out to do when they participated in a 3 week cruise expedition to Antarctica.

They arrived in Ushuaia where they boarded a cruise ship that had capacity for 300 passengers but chose to max out at 200 in order to protect the fragile Antarctic environment. In addition, when out exploring by Zodiac (and ultimately by foot), they were separated into two groups of 100.

“I didn’t know what to expect but when I envisioned this part of the world, I imagined it to be desolate, gray and lifeless” explains Cukier.

The opposite proved to be true and as each participant cleaned their boots off before placing foot on land, they were in awe of the blue sky and snow capped mountains reflecting off the ocean and the peacefulness of it all.

One of the highlights was standing in the midst of hundreds of thousands of penguins and learning about them right there on the spot from the crew Naturalists (with specialties in geology, ornithology, geography, history and more). These specialists provided the group with interesting tidbits and thorough explanations of the breeding season, the type of birds, the feeding procedure and how they interact with the surroundings. Then on the boat during the evening there were further lectures and sessions.

“We learned something new each day as we travelled from one island to the next”, states Rona.

As it was breeding season, the group was able to observe as the parent penguins cared for their unborn by sitting on the eggs and for their new born by going out to sea and catching “dinner”.  This is quite a feat considering that the one who goes fishing has to make its way through thousands of colonies of penguins and then back to their family again somehow finding them amongst all the others.

This is done with such precision – it’s quite amazing.

The baby penguins were seen shedding  their first skin (brown fur)  in preparation for their  waterproof version.

The group also encountered large colonies of seals. The Fur Seals, petite and cute were actually the ones to watch out for as they can be aggressive whereas the huge blubbered Elephant Seals were more passive.

“One of the most incredible feelings was being amongst all of these birds and being surrounded by only nature – the mountains, the sea, the icebergs, the wildlife; it was surreal” says Cukier.

The group also had the opportunity to go on advanced hikes ascending to mountain tops for exquisite views over the horizon and beyond. “The sky just seemed to go on forever” explained Cukier.

On one of these hikes, the group made it to the top and then outfitted in their snowsuits slid all the way down to the surface. There were fast parts, slow parts and overall it was very exciting, much more so than just walking down.

They viewed and photographed some stunning icebergs amazingly shaped as arches and squares with a translucent blue light coming from inside.  They could hear and see them calving (when sections separate and move out to sea) and it was hauntingly beautiful. They also saw the largest iceberg in the world.

There were whales to watch as well and hot springs to rest their weary bodies in after a full day of exploring.

When I asked Rona what the most amazing thing was about the entire trip she responded, “Just seeing nature do its thing without any barriers.”

There are several Nature Expeditions offered through Voyages Groupe  Ideal .

We agree with Rona – there is nothing as mystifying as seeing nature in motion.  It puts things into perspective and reminds us that we are not the only living beings on this planet.

Check out the great images Rona captured and share your travel stories with us.


Yours in Social Media and Travel lisacohen@groupeideal.ca at www.idealtravelalongtheway.com


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  • Great explanation!  You are right about nature.  There's nothing as real as sitting in a Zodiac watching a swimming suka bird eat a seagull it just knocked down.  This is indeed raw nature, where people are not even an afterthought.  Glad you had a good time too.  In January '18 on the MV Ushuaia we got as far south (65 degrees) as Petermann Island.  All I can say is, if you possibly can go there, do it!  (And soon, before too many boats limit the stops for everybody.)  And don't take a cruise ship--they can't land passengers.

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