Newsletter for the Rotary Club of Western Endeavour - Issue No.: 836 Issue Date: 9 Dec, 2018

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A long held bucket list item of mine was ticked off in December last year when Soozie and I were part of an expedition to the great southern land of Antarctica. Linking to this trip, we were also able to add a visit to the area of Patagonia in South America.

Both are quite remarkable parts of the world. Patagonia is an area of contrasts, from the flat steppes of Argentina to the massive mountain range of the Andes in areas such as Torres del Paine and Mt Fitz Roy, interspersed with huge glaciers fed from the Southern Andean Ice Fields. Patagonia is also known for its winds and we needed to be both alert to the danger of being blown off mountain sides and adaptable in plans to cater for sometimes over 100 kph winds.

From there we headed south to Ushuaia on the southern tip of Argentina. After surviving the crossing of the notoriously rough Drake Passage on our way to the ice, we found ourselves equally entranced and in awe by the enormity and uniqueness of the driest, highest and moist isolated continent on earth.

Having made landing on the actual continent after visiting a few islands, we made our way along the Antarctic Peninsula to around 71 degrees south, all the while exploring the mainland or islands frequented by colonies of Gentoo, Chinstrap or Adele penguins, Weddell seals and many sea birds, or “zodiac cruising” around the massive multi story high ice bergs that float around on the swirling Antarctic currents.

A highlight was when we would float in the zodiac with the engines off and come to terms with the isolation of where we were, and listen as the only sound was the gentle nudging of ice in the ice flows.

All too soon we were making our way back for another crossing of the Drake before crossing west to east past Cape Horn and back to port. It was a truly memorable experience.

Author: Geoff Ross

Published: 4 March, 2018

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