That time legendary polar explorer Ernest Shackleton and I escaped certain death on the pack ice. Man, that was hilarious.
The story of how continents became continents is quite a fascinating one, and I'll let one of my favourite Youtubers CGP Grey explain it, because he explains things better than just about anybody else out there.
But the fact remains that I've never been to Antarctica, and to miss a country is one thing, but to miss a whole continent, well really, that's just annoying. I mean, what did that continent ever do to you? Besides being the most hostile, desolate, unforgiving, unwelcome and dangerous place on Earth?
To be fair, Antarctica isn't like that anymore, at least not for the vast majority of the people who visit each summer. Instead of fabric tents been torn to shreds, pack ice crushing ships and everyone eating the sled dogs, modern expedition vessels bring thousands of tourists into the peninsular each summer season - in safety and comfort.
I've wanted to go to Antarctica since forever, and now that I'm researching my new book, The Great Global Bucket List, I could not dare leave it out. This is why I'm packing for a 10-night journey on One Ocean Expedition's Russian-flagged Akademik Sergey Vavilov. I'll be flying to Buenos Aires, and onwards to Ushuaia, the most southern tip of South America, catching the boat there. British Columbia-based One Ocean Expeditions are the cream of the crop when it comes to Antarctic adventures. Their 117m boat has a bar, library, sauna, plunge pool, and presentation room for talks about penguins, and the great age of polar exploration. When men didn't complain even if frostbite had bitten off half their face.
Last week, I read Alfred Lansing's classic book about the story of Shackleton's incredible adventure on the ice in 1916. I couldn't put it down...what these men went through over 18 months stranded on the ice is a testament to survival, instinct and endurance. Refreshingly, nobody had to be eaten. But you're probably wondering why visiting Antarctica belongs on the Global Bucket List? Me too. I know the wildlife encounters are supposed to be incredible. There are icebergs the likes I've never seen before, and coastlines that defy description. Sailing the world's roughest crossing - The Drake Passage - is going to be an adventure in itself. However, the activity I can't stop thinking about is that, weather permitting, we will be spending a night sleeping on the pack itself. It's approaching summer solstice down there so stars are not the draw, nor the southern lights. It's the fact that I'll be spending a night on the elusive seventh continent, the one very few people get to see. With little access to the internet, my next post will be post-trip. If you don't hear from me in a month, send a rescue party. And I mean party...with hats and booze and confetti and cups to play beer pong with. I'll invite the penguins.
Patagonia, Argentina - Patagonia is more than a brand of clothing found at your local camping shop. It is the southern quarter of Argentina, a land of deep blue fjords, snow-capped mountain, granite spires, forests, glaciers and lost hikers doing their very best to not slide into crevices and never be seen of again. Heavily influenced by Austrian and Swiss immigrants, the towns of Patagonia mimic Austrian and Swiss villages, complete with department store-sized chocolate shops, fondue restaurants, sausage grills and the sound of yodeling echoing in the hills. Add the renowned passion of the Argentines, and Patagonia could be the bastard son of Julie Andrews and Che Guevara. Viva la’ lederhosen!
Even though it will be off-off season, Bariloche will be humming with tourists in mid-February. Overlooking an enormous lake and serving a world-class ski resort, the town is an outdoorsy dream: mountain biking, rafting, fishing, hiking, climbing - the last of which proved especially challenging on Cerro Lopez, where the photo above was taken. There are dozens of parillas (steakhouses), bars, hip hostels and happening hotels. Patagonia remains a little slice of value-for-money heaven.
Please come in. Mahalo for removing your shoes.
After many years running a behemoth of a blog called Modern Gonzo, I've decided to a: publish a book or eight, and b: make my stories more digestible, relevant, and deserving of your battered attention.
Here you will find some of my adventures to over 100 countries, travel tips and advice, rantings, ravings, commentary, observations and ongoing adventures.