Avion Luxury International Airport Magazine

Antarctic, the icy thrill of adventure


As you leave the known world behind, the habitual world lost in a whirl of daily routine, and head towards one of the polar regions, the anticipati­on of adventure sends a shiver down your spine. In front of you lies an unknown slice of the planet, a wild symbolic place, cold and inhospitab­le, a metaphor for experiment­ation, abounding with difficulti­es to conquer, where you can test yourself and enjoy an adventure that transcends all imaginable experience­s. Firstly there is the Drake passage to overcome, three days of tempestuou­s sea as you head towards the South Pole. A feeling of isolation sweeps over you as you leave Cape Horn, the extreme tip of Tierra del Fuego, accompanie­d by albatrosse­s who swoop headfirst, skimming over the crests of the waves. The world is far behind. Ahead lies a boundless expanse of ice, floating like an enormous raft on the waters that surround it: the Antarctic. There is nothing friendly or reassuring about this place, nobody lives here; the only human presence is in the form of researcher­s in lonely scientific bases. During the long winter nights the temperatur­e can drop to below 80° C; in summer, from October to February, the temperatur­e settles around 0 C° and the sun shines continuous­ly. Following in the footsteps of explorers and whalers, who since the nineteenth century have ventured to these latitudes, enables you to piece together the exploits of these fearless men. The outline of high mountains can be seen on the horizon as you sail along the jagged coastline, weaving between the labyrinth of icebergs which, carved from the pack ice, appear on the surface of the ocean. Cathedrals of ice, with peaks that touch over 3,000 metres, rise up through banks of fog that seem to swallow up everything. The silence is profound, and the sheer immensity of this unknown, unpredicta­ble wilderness is staggering. The silence is absolute, broken only by the violent shattering of splinterin­g ice that releases sprays of water with light blue hues. The islands of Cuverville and Melchior, and Paradise Bay, along the Danco Coast, are stops in a crystal journey where the natural landscape is transforme­d into a theatrical scene. Sailing through the Lemaire Channel, past endless kilometres of ice walls, is an extraordin­ary experience. The Channel opens onto a peninsula of smooth rocks and a sheet of intense turquoise-coloured sea below a dark animated mound: Petermann Island. The island is home to colonies of penguins, clumsy and awkward in their movements, with unusual backs and black heads with orange-coloured marks. After imagining the feverish activity that took place in the bay of Port Lockroy, an old abandoned whaling station, and sailing north to King George Island, from where the return flight to Ushuaia in Patagonia leaves, you can understand that in this complex and fragile ecosystem, an unspoilt paradise of silence, fjords and icebergs, in whose belly lie oil, uranium and

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