Oceanwide basecamp: an unforgettable trip in the most awe-inspiring pristine landscape on earth
by karleen De Rijcke
Departure in December 2022
Ship: m/v Plancius
Highlights: Snowshoeing, Mountaineering, Antarctic Camping, Kayaking, Basecamp, Adelie Penguin, Chinstrap Penguin, Crabeater Seal, Gentoo Penguin, Humpback Whale, Killer Whale, Leopard Seal, Wandering Albatross, Weddell Seal, Cormorant, Storm Petrel, Hiking
Awe-inspiring, astounding, magic, massive, magnificent… There are not enough words to describe the wonder of Antarctica and I truly believe there's no better way to see and experience this with an Oceanwide basecamp trip! It’s impossible not to be touched by the exceptional beauty of Antarctica while cruising amidst vast waters filled with beautiful azure icebergs shaped by waves and wind in the most amazing works of art, with the steep peaks of the black snow-filled mountains shimmering through the thick layers of fog… But what makes the basecamp so special is the many opportunities to get off the ship, if the weather permits twice a day, to go out and directly experience the wild beauty at ‘the outermost edge of human exploration’: an always different but unforgettable experience. Cruising on zodiacs surrounded by breaching 17 meter/14ton whales, kayaking through ice-choked waves amongst huge shiny blue-and-white icebergs, hiking with 360° pristine, whiter-than-white panoramas, mountaineering on snow covered islands where no (wo)men have set foot before (only penguins😊) and even camping on…or rather in the ice, we crawled in our snow-proof sleeping bags (no tents!) enjoying the sounds of a baby seal and the ear deafening calving of glaciers (dozens of meters of ice and snow gliding in the sea) and the amazing scenery all around.
My absolute favourite were the many penguin encounters. I spent hours (each day) watching those funny animals… waddling, sliding and gliding through the snow, collecting stones for their nest (and stealing them from other nests as soon as the owners turned their back!), starting very determined, and all of a sudden stopping, looking right and left… I could hear their little voices rattling in my head ‘OK, let’s go, oh no this is not going as it should, help, falling again, o no, no worries, there we go again” and “mmm, where was I going’…
Experiencing this beauty first hand -and the very interesting lectures by the scientists on board- strengthened my belief that we have do more and act faster to protect our environment and the climate.
The wide scientific and outdoor experience of the whole expedition team made the trip, the lectures and especially every single outing extra valuable and memorable. All the members were so passionate and enthusiastic to share their knowledge and help us to discover the endless wonders Antarctica has to offer in the most responsible and durable way possible.
Not only the expedition team, but all members of the staff -from the stewards to the ‘sailors’, the engineers to the people on the bridge, the cleaning and laundry staff to the people preparing and serving the delicious meals- made this trip extra special: always friendly to each passenger and colleague, doing their jobs with a smile and offering the best possible service. A special thank you to our steward Ambroze who kept our room clean and spontaneously helped wherever possible, best service I’ve ever experienced!
As you can see I can only write in superlatives about my Oceanwide Antarctica experience. Just one comment on how the trip could be even made better for me: as many other passengers I was sick in bed the first day crossing the Drake passage and therefore missed the explanation about the basecamp activities. Although it was announced through the speakers that you could rest easy because those who couldn’t attend this info session would get all the info afterwards, this was not really the case, although I tried to get more info the days after… For camping for instance I had to ask several time to my colleagues what to do while they were all busy getting in their ‘hole’ before it started raining… Finally I realised the outer waterproof cover was missing in my bag…so I would have been very cold and wet if I wouldn’t have checked this with my ‘neighbour’ (The crew had a spare so everything ended well). Maybe the info session could be organized on day 2 instead of day 1 when most people are able to attend?
Another small point: on average it was hotter on the shop then needed (mostly in our quad room and in the lounge), not very comfortable for the passengers and probably a waste of energy?
But overall the ship was very comfortable! I specifically chose one of the smaller ships not focusing on luxury but rather the expedition and experience and it fulfilled all my expectations: the quad room although small was very well organized so we could all easily stuff and access our bags and clothes, the beds were comfy, the curtains gave the necessary privacy and darkness to sleep, the porthole in our room and the lounge with rooms all around showed the most wonderful scenery all day (and night) long. Although my favourite part of the ship was the deck to watch wonderful unforgettable magic Antarctica slide by…
An unforgettable experience for everyone who likes active off the beaten track experiences in the most wonderful landscape on earth!
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