Adventure, Antarctica, Destination, Featured Adventure

5 Favorite Moments in Antarctica with Bark Europa

Ice in Neko Harbour

Antarctica is one of the greatest adventures that anyone could have. It is the final frontier, the dream of a lifetime, and an incredible journey. It will remain a top five travel experience in my life. From sailing through 1,000m high mountains of ice that tower over the ship to taking a polar plunge, Antarctica was full of dreamland experiences that are better than your wildest imagination.  These are my top five favorite moments in Antarctica.

Number Five: Sledding at Neko Harbour

Sledding at Neko Harbour, Antarctica

At Neko Harbour, impressive glaciers of many shades of blue and white surrounded us. High cliffs of ice rose out of the sea and we heard ice crack as a huge chunk broke off and landed into the water creating a mini tsunami on the beach. Doesn’t it all sound like a dream? Well, witnessing it was even better. Then, we climbed to an impressive view point that overlooked the harbour and we were given the chance to slid down. I wasn’t sure if they were serious at first. It was steep; it seemed too steep for sledding. One of the guests decided to give it a try and he slowly made his way down the cliff and through the snow. Safely, he reached the bottom. What I didn’t consider at the time was that the more people went, the more packed the snow and ice would get. By the time I went down the hill, it was slick. I flew down so quickly that I actually passed someone that went before me. Being in the middle of this awe-inspiring natural wilderness is indescribable but rushing by it at high speeds was even better! Wow!

Number Four: Hiking a Volcano on Deception Island
Deception Island, Antarctica

On latitude 63° south, looms Deception Island, a ring-shaped island with an extensive internal crater. Bark Europa sailed through a small opening called ‘Neptunes Bellows’ into the volcanic crater and dropped anchor. We were brought to the active volcano to hike the rim. The impressive panorama views were unworldly.

Number Three: First Penguin Encounter on Barrientos Island, One of the Aitcho Islands
Penguin Selfie on Barrientos Island, Antarctica
I’ve taken a lot of selfies during my travels but this was the first with a penguin next to me and the first in Antarctica. It’s a moment that will be ingrained in my memory for life. I wasn’t at a zoo or somewhere where the penguins were out of their natural environment. This was their home and I was a guest. From their reaction, I was a welcomed guest too. I didn’t want to move. I wanted the moment to last. I welled up with tears and smiled for the camera. It was more than I dreamed possible.

Number Two: Swimming in Antarctica
Swimming in Antarctica
At Pendulum Cove, thermal currents rise and those who so wish may bathe in the geothermally warmed waters, but a polar dip wasn’t on my agenda. I’m naturally cold when others are warm. The thought of it made me shiver. Friends asked if I would go ashore and take photos so I prepared to land. Just before I got on the Zodiac, I decided to run down to my cabin and put on my bathing suit just in case. When we landed, everyone stood around second guessing their decision to swim. Snow and ice surrounded us. It was freezing. Without thinking or even talking to anyone, I started to take off my jacket and snow pants. How bad could it be? I walked toward the water and sat down in the waves. Everyone, including myself, was shocked. The sand was warm and as I wiggled my bottom, it warmed the water around me. It’s not too often that you have a chance to swim in Antarctica. I had to go for it. Others joined me and we giggled as looked at the bizarre situations we found ourselves in.

Number One: Dolphin Luminescence

I don’t have a photo to prove this one. It sounds like a tall tale told by a sailor. (Oh wait, is that what this is?) The most magical thing happened to us during our last watch of the Bark Europa voyage. The water was calm and the moon was full. It was 4 am and I was at the helm steering the ship. The winds were low and we were under sail barely moving north toward Argentina. I heard splashing in the water and realized the dolphins were back. Dolphins love to jump and play in the waves created by the ship and we’d seen hundreds of them during our trip. This scene is amazing enough but the bioluminescent-rich waters created a light around the dolphins. The dolphins’ path was illuminated like a green comet in the water. The ocean was glowing. Dozens of dolphins darted around the ship and everything was alive with magnificent blues and greens. Picture Life of Pi but with dolphins.  It was the most beautiful, natural sight I’ve seen and there were only a handful of us on deck to witness it. No one had a camera. No one took a photo. We just marveled at the phenomenon happening before our eyes.

This is life in Antarctica. Even fantastical movies can’t create something better.

Without Bark Europa, Whitecaps Marine, and Pilotur, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity wouldn’t have been possible.

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28 thoughts on “5 Favorite Moments in Antarctica with Bark Europa

  1. Nikolaj Krenzen says:

    Fed artikel. Må have været en virkelig god tur. Virkelig smuk natur! #PiloturBLP

  2. J. Holmes says:

    Wow! How did I miss not seeing this website before? Fantastic. Do you ever sleep? I know it doesn’t count, but… #piloturBLP The watch has a tachymeter where the first 18s are reserved for pulse measurement (15 heart beats). I like that!

    1. Lesley says:

      It does count; you can enter here as well. 🙂

  3. Karina says:

    Amazing story. It took guts when you made the decision to get into the water. Good for you. Seems that penguins are quite friendly. For some reason I didn’t expect that.

    1. Lesley says:

      The penguins are very curious and beautiful but they smell nasty 😉

      I think it took stupidity to get in the water, but it was worth it. I won’t have too many opportunities to swim in Antarctica.

      Is it on your list?

  4. Karina says:

    Amazing story. It took guts when you made the decision to get into the water. Good for you. Seems that penguins are quite friendly. For some reason I didn’t expect that.

    1. Lesley says:

      The penguins are very curious and beautiful but they smell nasty 😉

      I think it took stupidity to get in the water, but it was worth it. I won’t have too many opportunities to swim in Antarctica.

      Is it on your list?

  5. Kudos to you! Super amazed by this and would love to go there soon.

    1. Lesley says:

      It was the greatest travel experience of my life and sailing on Bark Europa made it even better. I felt like if I was going all that way, I needed to do it right. Sailing on a tall ship as part of the training crew was a huge dream come true.

      What other destinations top your list?

  6. Kudos to you! Super amazed by this and would love to go there soon.

    1. Lesley says:

      It was the greatest travel experience of my life and sailing on Bark Europa made it even better. I felt like if I was going all that way, I needed to do it right. Sailing on a tall ship as part of the training crew was a huge dream come true.

      What other destinations top your list?

  7. Incredible photos! I especially like the one of Deception Island.

  8. Incredible photos! I especially like the one of Deception Island.

  9. Amazing experiences! Your photos with the boat seem as though they’re from another time entirely. Not many people can point to a list like this. Envious!

  10. Amazing experiences! Your photos with the boat seem as though they’re from another time entirely. Not many people can point to a list like this. Envious!

  11. Jennifer says:

    Wow what an amazing experience! Your photos are fantastic and that is certainly an epic selfie with the penguin.

  12. Jennifer says:

    Wow what an amazing experience! Your photos are fantastic and that is certainly an epic selfie with the penguin.

  13. Olga says:

    That’s the coolest photobomb I ever saw! hahaha good job, Mr Penguin!

  14. Olga says:

    That’s the coolest photobomb I ever saw! hahaha good job, Mr Penguin!

  15. Sophie says:

    Swimming in Antartica? That’s brave and such an adventure – so jealous! Amazing photos btw!

  16. Sophie says:

    Swimming in Antartica? That’s brave and such an adventure – so jealous! Amazing photos btw!

  17. Kate says:

    This is so high on my travel list! It looks absolutely amazing. Such elemental photos, like a different planet. I love the penguin selfie too. The experiences there must be once-in-a-lifetime. I hope I get to go one day. Thanks for sharing a great post

  18. Kate says:

    This is so high on my travel list! It looks absolutely amazing. Such elemental photos, like a different planet. I love the penguin selfie too. The experiences there must be once-in-a-lifetime. I hope I get to go one day. Thanks for sharing a great post

  19. Christy says:

    I am extremely jealous that you got to hang out with a penguin.

  20. Christy says:

    I am extremely jealous that you got to hang out with a penguin.

  21. Annita says:

    What an adventure. I’d love to do it too! I guess it’s planning and doing it! Right?

  22. Annita says:

    What an adventure. I’d love to do it too! I guess it’s planning and doing it! Right?

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