Luxe Beat Magazine - - News - By Lil­lian Africano

In ad­di­tion to land­ings, we of­ten took zo­diac cruises along the coast­line to get up an up-close look at the ice­bergs, bird rook­eries and glaciers. Oc­ca­sion­ally, we spot­ted seals sprawled across the glow­ing ice struc­tures. Mas­sive in size, they rarely moved from their frozen Barcaloungers. And then there were the whales. Some­times we were lucky to see them while we were in the zo­di­acs; other times, we in­tently ob­served them from the ship as they spouted or fed on large amounts of krill. These small crus­taceans are abun­dant in Antarc­tic waters and vir­tu­ally all of the an­i­mals in Antarc­tica are de­pen­dent on the enor­mous pop­u­la­tions of krill for their food, di­rectly or in­di­rectly. When a large pod of hump­backs went by, it was akin to whales on pa­rade – a mag­i­cal Dis­ney-like mo­ment that felt un­real.

De­pend­ing on the cruise itin­er­ary, Quark of­fers other op­tional ac­tiv­i­ties, such as a one-night camp-out on land, kayak­ing, cross­coun­try ski­ing and even stand-up pad­dle­board­ing. There’s also the op­por­tu­nity to do a po­lar plunge. I joined 50 brave folks for this chal­lenge that in­volved jump­ing into the icy cold 28 de­gree water from off of the ship’s low­est deck. The shock to your sys­tem when your body makes con­tact with this freez­ing aquatic mi­lieu is in­de­scrib­able. The good thing is that you are quickly pulled out, given a shot of vodka and wrapped in a towel be­fore the whole ex­pe­ri­ence ac­tu­ally reg­is­ters. Those who suc­cess­fully ac­com­plished this feat are given cer­tifi­cates at­test­ing to their in­san­ity and have eter­nal brag­ging rights.

Back on the ship, there’s no time to be bored. Quark val­ues the ed­u­ca­tional com­po­nent and the ex­pe­di­tion team is pas­sion­ate about shar­ing its wealth of knowl­edge about ev­ery­thing Antarc­tica. They are en­thu­si­as­tic, fun and car­ing in­di­vid­u­als that have a deep, abid­ing respect for this won­drous con­ti­nent. In ad­di­tion to the daily lec­tures, there are films, books about past ex­plo­rations, maps, charts, pho­tos and many re­sources for pas­sen­gers. And, of course, there’s time to just try to soak it all in and trea­sure this dra­matic place – the only spot on earth that is still as it should be, un­tamed and un­touched.

If you go:

www.adventure-life.com/ antarc­tica

This ar­ti­cle orig­i­nally ran in Oc­to­ber 2015.


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