Shereen Mitwalli is the presenter & founder of The Female Network [thefemalenetwork.com], an online platform/community bringing together successful women in the Middle East region, and providing engaging content from an array of contributors. The platform also markets and connects businesses and professionals from versatile backgrounds of expertise. Read all about Shereen Mitwalli’s travel story.
Here is her diary
Paris, London, Milan, New York, those are the travel destinations that roll off the tongue, considered the travel capitals of the world, but it is a rarity to find someone who’s been on a trek to Antarctica. It always evokes curiosity. I wanted to experience what I believed to be a truly unique travel experience.
Stayed at Unfortunately, the Ritz doesn’t have a branch in Antarctica, and for that matter, neither does any Hotel chain. Shelter was provided in the form of a Russian Ocean Liner entitled the MV Ortelius. It was definitely a few steps away from 5-class accommodation. It certainly wasn’t the Ritz in Paris. From bunk beds to seasickness, the trip was not filled with the usual activities associated with travel. Most of the three day boat trip to arctic was spent in my living quarters with Frank Sinatra on repeat.
One surprising element was the dining experiences on the Russian vessel. International chefs were on board to prepare the daily meals during the trip, and they did not disappoint. That was one thing I did not see coming.
Month February, considered to be Antarctica’s summer period. It’s recommended that anyone considering taking the trip visit during this month.
Dined at A post office was the only building on site
Shopped Sadly no shopping in Antarctica. Souvenirs could be purchased from a little post office, and we were able to send out postcards as well. Though delivering the postcard yourself might actually be faster than the mail service in the arctic.
Diary The trip overall is a bit hectic to say the least. It’s fair to say that Emirates doesn’t fly direct to Antarctica. After a flight to Los Angeles and then Buenos Aires, we were then required to travel to the Argentine city of Ushuaia. Commonly regarded as the southernmost city in the world. Ushuaia was absolutely captivating, from it’s climate, to the museums and wildlife, not to mention the unique ‘end of the world’ train. It was truly an experience.
That’s the easy part. Passengers then boarded the Russian liner on a 3-day trip to Antarctica. Smooth sailing was not on the menu as 15 meter swells continuously crashed against the body of the ship, making for an uncomfortable journey and causing a seasickness epidemic onboard. You know things aren’t going well when even the on-board doctor is having a hard time maintaining his stomach lining. As for me, dry biscuits and my iPod kept me company during the 72-hour trek. Once we arrived though, it was worth it. To finally experience a geographical structure after three days of nothing but water was a blessing, but we were welcomed by true beauty. From the pure white of the glaciers to the ‘greeting’ ceremony put on for us by the whales in the area, and definitely not last or least, an endless sea of beautiful Penguins. We received a safety brief and then transported to land. Possibly the only time I’ll trade in my Chanel’s for a pair of hiking boots. It’s safe to say that I was temporarily reduced to my childhood days, running across the ice and experiencing those beautiful creatures and the landscape. It was a scene straight out of the Discovery Channel.
Various activities were planned for each day including kayaking and exploring the glacial environment. The last day though was slightly nightmarish, as it was proposed that we slept on the ice, not my finest moment. It’s fair to say that a lot of peer pressure resulted in what was possibly the most uncomfortable night of my life.
Regardless of sub zero temperatures, I can say without any hesitation that it was an experience that remains with me. To be given the opportunity to experience and revel in what is one of our planet’s magnificent wonders.
Tips Nothing will be more important to anyone undertaking this journey than the following two words, Pack Warm. Predictably, the temperature is consistently below zero, so body warmth is a necessity. The three-day trip from Ushuaia to reach your destination is not for the weak of heart. Clearly Antarctica is not an annual travel destination for the family, but for a once in a lifetime experience, it is hard to beat, and a true life changing experience. I gained an appreciation for the versatility of our planet, defined by a beauty that can be experienced in even its most extreme environments
Mode of travel A flight from Melbourne to Los Angeles. Followed by a flight to Buenos Aires and a final flight to Ushuaia, concluded by the grueling 3-day boat ride to Antarctica.