Elke Hinson’s Extraordinary Trip To Antarctica
Exploring one of the world’s most remote places, Elke Hinson, an adventure travel expert from Toronto, shares her story about visiting Antarctica for the first time. What makes Antarctica so interesting is the sheer remoteness and phenomenal views. From the wildlife to the mesmerizing ice, it’s very easy to get carried away in trying to capture it all.
Elke is an avid photographer and has travelled to 30 countries and all 7 continents. She went to Antarctica in January 2016 on an expedition with G Adventures. The trip in total was 11 days, with 5 travel days. The total time spent in Antarctica depends on how quickly you cross the Drake Passage – the water that connects the southwestern part of the Atlantic Ocean (Scotia Sea) with the southeastern part of the Pacific Ocean.
As for the weather, it was nothing like the -30’s we experienced in Canada last winter! But Antarctica’s weather can change very quickly. When the sun is out, it can feel warm.
“I was there in the Austral Summer, so it was warmer in Antarctica than it was in Canada at the time. It didn’t drop much below -10c. But when the winds picked up and the snow was coming down, it felt very cold!”
Elke described the feeling of being amongst the small percentage of the population to visit The White Continent:
“It was an amazing feeling to cross this bucket list item off. The experience itself was phenomenal. It was exciting to be in a place on earth that has never been developed by humans, that is so wild and unforgiving, but at the same time, incredibly beautiful and inspiring.”
Petermann Island was Elke’s favorite. She adored the views on all sides of the island, the ice and mountains on the peninsula, the reflections on the water… The pictures say it all!
One of the best moments when travelling is not only capturing the views on camera, but it’s about the memories you keep and how you share your favorite highlights with others. Elke was lucky enough to witness a special moment while on one of her last excursions:
“I hadn’t seen a whale yet and it was something that I REALLY wanted. Sure enough, the Zodiac guides spotted a Humpback mother and her calf. We followed them for about half an hour, watching them breach the surface and blow. We were about 10 meters away, and finally they went down for a deep dive and both mother and baby’s fluke broke the water at the same time!”
“It was such a perfect ending to a perfect trip.”
Another highlight of her trip was when they cruised down the narrow Lemaire Channel and one of the passengers started playing the bagpipes.
“She was fundraising and her goal was to play the bagpipes on every continent. It was amazing to stand on the bow with amazing new friends, snow falling around us and cruising through this impressive channel with bagpipes playing in the background. There were huge cliff faces on either side and they set up a hot chocolate and Kahlua table on the bow. It was surreal.”
As an Adventure Travel Expert, Elke has had her fair share of seeing beautiful animals and visiting different destinations, such as Tanzania and Galapagos. But there really is nothing better than seeing animals in their own environment.
“There’s no comparison to seeing an animal in the wild to seeing it in the zoo. Of course, we weren’t allowed to approach the animals too closely. We had to keep a distance of about 15ft. But if you sat quietly for a few minutes, often they would come very close to you!”
For Canadians who want to travel to Antarctica, there really isn’t much preparation needed in terms of the cold weather. But there are other things you should keep in mind at all times. Read some of Elke’s tips:
• Always listen to the expedition leader’s instructions and recommendations.
• You must be aware of the risks of travelling in such an extreme environment and in good enough health and fitness to get on and off the Zodiacs (small inflatable boats) quickly if need be.
• You will be hours, if not days away from medical facilities and evacuation points.
• It’s so important for personalities to mesh because it really does affect your overall experience. Go into it with an open mind and learn to tune out the people you don’t get along with.
• It’s not a theme park. It’s more precious and delicate than even a national park because it’s so remote and untouched, so you have to be responsible and help keep it that way.
One word to describe Antarctica? Surreal. And Elke would definitely go back in a heartbeat! Click through the gallery below to view more pictures:
Interested in chatting more with Elke about her Antarctica expedition? Reach her at 416.345.9726 ext 2123, or EHinson@MeritTravel.com.
April 7, 2016