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I’m excited about this one. In 2009, I spent 4 days sailing about the Falkland Islands aka Islas Malvinas. Weather kept me from seeing Stanley, as I had always imagined. By voyage end I knew I would have to return one day for an indepth exploration.
Two years later, Quark Expeditions is offering a Wildlife Cruise through the Falkland Islands, on the latest addition to their Antarctic fleet – Sea Spirit. Boy, do I want to be on it. Some of the planned landings replicate that 2009 itinerary, yet there are many others we didn’t get to see.
The grand finale is Steeple Jason – the Elephant Island of the Falklands. The odds of landing are low. You’ll see it, but you may not get ashore. We did in 2009, and it was magical. I love that element of doubt…that’s my favourite style of travel. If you succeed, you feel a real sense of accomplishment. If you fail, the disappointment is tempered with the knowledge that you tried.
First a disclaimer. CBC’s Quirks and Quarks has absolutely nothing to do with Quark Expeditions, my employer. Although there is a scientific connection in that the Quark in my employer’s name is the same element as the Quark in Quirks and Quarks.
One of our founders was a physicist. He chose the name to remind us to never get so big we forget the small things. I speculate that he never imagined that there would be a neutrino lab at the South Pole, when he named the company in 1991.
Quirks and Quarks has conducted an interview with a Canadian scientist who was involved in the project at the South Pole.
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Captain James Cook became the first man to cross the Antarctic Circle 238 years ago today. The fact he did with a ship’s crew and a slew of officers…well that counts for naught.
Twenty-two years ago today, Victoria E Murden and Shirley Metz, became the first women to reach the South Pole by land. I wonder if they timed it to arrive on the 17th of January?
Why, you ask? 99 years ago today, Robert Falcon Scott became the SECOND man to reach the South Pole. He too was accompanied – Wilson, Bowers, Evans and Oates to name his companions. Roald Amundsen was the first, and he didn’t do it alone, but his companions didn’t earn the honor of second, third and fourth. Polar Exploration has always been about social order. There was nothing egalatarian about it.
Quark Expeditions is changing that. They are having a draw for autographed, first editions. There are 9 to be given away. To win you just enter the contest. The winners will chosen by random draw – so it doesn’t matter who you know, or what social class you come from – you have a chance to win.
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Ferdinand Magellan began the first circumnavigation of the globe, but did not live to see that feat completed. His officers and crew did finish the journey. I still remember the first time I learned of Magellan. I was in elementary school. I had not, until that moment, considered it possible to circle the world on a ship.
My formative years occurred while charter air travel was developing. At 16 I flew with an insurance company on a chartered flight to England. I was totally unaware that public air transportation was evolving and that world cruises were becoming rare, almost antiquated.
When I entered the travel business, my thoughts returned to the possibility of circumnavigating the world by passenger ship – or even tramp steamer. I always seek the romantic, not the mundane.
I still dream of a world cruise, but the one that has capture my imagination most strongly is the 2011 Arctic Circumnavigation operated by Quark Expeditions. Ever since I walked around the North Pole sign, the shortest circumnavigation on the planet, I have wanted to sail the Northeast Passage, around Greenland and through the Northwest Passage.
I had a taste in 2005 when I sailed to Wrangel Island from Anadyr, Russia. The journey through the Bering Strait is one I will never forget. That experience was merely the traveling equivalent to an amuse bouche – savory, and appetite whetting.
I won’t be on that 66-day icebreaker journey when it sets sail in July. But I will be there in spirit.
Chris Epting has spent a decade checking the pulse of America and telling people all about it on his web radio show – Pop Culture Road Trip. Chris won the Adventure with Julie contest sponsored by Quark Expeditions and SeaWorld. His trip to Antarctica was a road trip unlike any other!
We spoke about his adventure and the ins and outs of polar travel recently. You can listen to the podcast.