I do not know exactly when this moment happens, the moment when I notice these incredible travel souls on Instagram. People who inspire me, who take me to places I have never been to, people who I want to know for the rest of my life. One of these people was and still is Monique.
After graduating in 2013, she lived all over the world and traveled to all the continents. In 2017 she sold her house in the Netherlands and decided to travel around the world twice that year.
Monique can really take us anywhere in this world and for a moment it was really hard for me to decide where to. After watching her photos and videos on Instagram, I decided to go with her to a place where ice is. Where most of us haven’t been to.
Keep warm, have a cup of tea ready, close your eyes for a moment and let’s all go to Antarctica with Monique.
She is really something!
How did you end up in Antarctica?
I got the invitation from the company to take photos and video for them. I said yes and in a few months, me and my boyfriend were on the ship to Antarctica.
How did you get there?
Our ship left from Ushuaia, Argentina. We flew from Amsterdam to Buenos Aires, spent a week there and flew to Ushuaia and stayed there for a few days to make sure we would not miss the boat ;) The company we went with also has a plane that flies to the Antarctic peninsula (from Punta Arenas, Chile), but we went on a ship. It takes 2,5 days to sail to Antarctica, crossing the Drake Passage. Many people would choose the plane over the boat because it saves time and also the Drake Passage is notorious, it can be quite a rough journey.
But I have to say, I love being on boats so I loved the journey, the feeling of really going to the end of the world, seeing trees for the last time, seeing the wandering albatros (bird with the widest wingspan in the world) following the ship, noticing the nights became less dark (in summer the sun doesn't completely go down), the smell of the air changing…
At what time of year did you go there?
You can only travel to Antarctica during summer (winter time in Europe). In the winter most of the sea surrounding Antarctica freezes, (Antarctica doubles in size) so the ship cannot navigate safely. Also it gets really cold and dark in winter which makes it impossible to travel. In summer you have an abundance of light, which is heaven for photographers. Also it does not get as cold as people may expect from Antarctica.
What did you expect from the trip?
As we didn't book (or pay) for the trip we didn't really know what to expect. But I expected magic and it was just that and even more.
What did you get?
For us it was completely over the top luxury in terms of food, service level, what our hut looked like etc. Really we thought they brought us to the wrong room (laugh). One thing that I didn't expect and think was one of the best parts of the trip was the expedition crew. These are the people that drive the zodiacs (the little boats that take you from the ship to shore), but also these people were experts on anything you can think of. There was a whale expert, a penguin expert, a bird expert, a geology professor, a history expert etc. They held lectures, did briefings and it just taught us so much about Antarctica. It was just amazing to see things during the day and then in the evening these things were explained, why and how they came to be. I loved that!
What do the Antarctic days look like?
7 am wake-up call
8 am breakfast
9 am getting ready to leave the ship for excursion
12 pm returning to the ship
1 pm lunch time
2 pm getting ready to leave our ship for excursion
4:30 pm returning to the ship for cocktails and snacks
Until dinner we enjoy life on board, we were reading books in the library, visiting the bridge, enjoying the views, chatting with people on board, we were taking photographs, etc.
7 pm dinner time
9 pm lectures about Antarctica, briefing about the next day
10 pm enjoying some drinks at the bar with a live music
11 pm marveling at the sunset/sunrise light that last until morning
12 pm struggle to go to bed because there is too much to see
1 am we finally decide to go sleep
When I think of Antarctica, I have to ask you one question. Is it dangerous?
Antarctica is wild. It is a hostile environment. There is a reason that people don’t live there. So yes, it can be dangerous. However, the organisations that are allowed to travel there, have to comply with very strict rules. I honestly only felt wonder during the whole trip, no fear. I think tat means that everything was really very well organised.
Can you tell us in which situations Antarctica can be dangerous?
Antarctica has an inherent tranquility, but with a dark edge. You are at the mercy of nature and things can change in the blink of an eye.
All excursion that are planned could be postponed or changed because of weather conditions. If the sea is too dangerous to board a zodiac, they will cancel or delay. Luckily this only happened once.
Sometimes the weather will get so bad, the ship will divert to another place and our plans change completely. One morning we were fleeing a storm and ended up with a big group of whales surrounding our ship in the afternoon…
Another example; when we were in Neko harbor we notice that the beach is so close to the edge of a huge glacier, which means that you are not allowed to linger on the beach. If a piece of the glacier would break off, it could cause a tsunami and you will be washed to sea.
Travel to Antarctica requires so much planning and flexibility.
What thoughts were going through your mind while you were there?
Is this real? Still 2 years after I still sometimes wonder if it was all a dream... Also, the light there is amazing. I wondered about this many times.
Someone said: "The person who is able to express the feeling of being in Antarctica in words has probably not been there." Do you agree, or you can actually sum up your whole trip in a few sentences?
I agree!!! It is impossible to describe Antarctica and the excitement you feel by EVERYTHING that happens. It is incredible in so many different ways. For me it was a TRUE adventure, a place that is so remote and does not belong to humans.
Useful websites about Antarctica:
More about Monique:
Enjoy in Monique’s photos from Antarctica. There are no words to describe such a beauty: