Go cruising on the wild side with chilly trip to Antarctica
ONCE only accessible to the hardiest of explorers, Antarctica now offers a variety of cruise choices.
The White Continent is one of the last untouched destinations of the world.
You can see remarkable wildlife up close and in abundance amid pristine, awe-inspiring scenery.
The Antarctic Circle is full of extremes being the coldest, driest, highest and windiest place on earth - did I mention beautiful, stunning, amazing and jaw-dropping.
Most cruises depart from Ushuaia at the tip of South America.
After boarding your ship in late afternoon you head out through the Beagle Channel, then across the Drake Passage - also known as the Drake Shake or Drake Lake depending on the prevailing weather conditions.
Today's cruise ships are very stable and cope with whatever conditions the Drake presents.
On the crossing there is a constant accompaniment of seabirds, including the majestic albatross.
The adventure really begins as you approach the continent of Antarctica.
Smaller ships are able to navigate through the remote and scenic waterways that are littered with icebergs the size of houses up to as big as mountains.
Zodiac landings are great fun and on smaller vessels you can usually do two excursions per day.
You can go ashore and meet the locals or cruise around the icebergs or follow a pod of whales.
Trekking around the penguin rookeries is an amusing and entertaining experience.
These little tuxedo-clad fellows are always chattering and look like little old men waddling along.
The pretty Weddell seals sun themselves on the closest iceberg, while the elephant seals groan and make rude noises.
Never far away are the leopard seals waiting for their dinner - watch out little penguin.
Other activities available are sea kayaking for getting up very close and personal with the outdoors.
An unforgettable experience is camping on the ice which is much more fun than it sounds - waking up to a sunrise colouring the entire landscape pink is an image I shall never forget.
And for the brave there is a swim at Whalers Bay, Deception Island.
A trip to Antarctica is undoubtedly a unique experience in any traveller's log book.