Tryst With Snow
Having been brought up in a family closely associated with the travel and tourism industry, I grew up with maps all around me. The passion for trotting across the globe and the inquisitiveness of understanding new lands and cultures had been brewing inside me from an early age. I have always believed that the journey of a true world traveller can never be complete until each of the seven continents has been explored.
My exciting journey to the seventh continent started off at Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, also known as the Paris of South America, where I spent two nights before leaving for Ushuaia. The beautiful city of Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world, and so it is rightly named, the end of the world. In this quaint town, we partnered with the Arakur Resort & Spa, a hotel situated 800 feet above sea level. Surrounded by stunning panoramic views of native forests, every aspect of nature was harmoniously integrated.
The next morning, I woke up in the comfort of my room. After a hearty breakfast, I geared up for my visit to the Tierra del Fuego National Park. The lush green of the trees, the melodious humming of birds, the comforting mist floating about made me poetic. As the day progressed and I gradually felt myself being released from the mystic spell of nature, it was finally the right time to start my journey to Antarctica.
The vessel which was to take me to this no man’s land was called Majestic Explorer. Staying committed to its name, this ship was opulent in every sense of the word. With 132 suites, open bars, fine-dine restaurants, spas and salons, the ship exemplified the subtle alliance between luxury, intimacy and well being. A member of the crew informed me that the ship has been designed by French designer, Jean Philippe Nuel. The Captain of the ship told me that the designer has truly outdone himself with the use of the warm tones of natural wood with greys and whites. For me, it reminded me of the French Riviera.
My first journey to the farthest land was now underway and the explorer in me felt a sudden sense of pride as we entered the choppy waters of the Drake Passage. However, in my case, the calm was after the storm! And this excitement served as a great incentive to stay composed. After about 48 hours, the Atlantic, the Pacific and all other familiar waters bid farewell. I will never forget my first glimpse of the Antarctica landmass, which is more of an ice-mass, a memory that would be etched in my mind forever. My expression when I first saw the vast expanse of the snow-covered land, and towering and jagged mountains? Priceless, according to my fellow passengers! I had finally arrived at the edge of the world, the southernmost continent! The landscape, the experience humbled me.
The stark beauty of it is so natural and raw, so characteristic and unapologetic. It is what it was meant to be. That moment I decided to share the experience as soon as I would go back to India. Home to the largest colony of Chinstrap penguins and fur seals, a visit to Deception Island is part of my best memories from the trip. Experts on board made sure that we knew how to conduct ourselves around the wildlife there. Seeing the Weddell Seal in its natural habitat, hiding under a mountain of snow, was a great treat for bibliophiles and photographers alike. I tried to record the sound of the penguins’ call, wanting to take back an aural memento from the land of silence.
They were most adorable in the way they moved from glacier to snow-covered mountains. If you ask whether Antarctica will be all you imagined it to be. I would say, yes and so much more. It extends far beyond the vaguest idea you might have of it. We believe that travel is not about seeing new places. It’s about the living experience and creating a story from those experiences that remain a part of you. What would be more appropriate as a magnum opus than the white continent?