Antarctica: A Decision

Some of you weighed in on our decision to go to Antarctica. We don’t want to leave you hanging any longer.

So what did we decide? What did the process look like and what did we learn from it?

The upshot: we pulled the trigger.

A week from today we’ll be on an eleven-day journey aboard an ice-breaker in and around Antarctica and beyond our second polar circle (the first one was when we got engaged in Norway). Although we had to act quickly in order to not miss the opportunity, we did not take our decision lightly.

It’s difficult to explain all of our conflicting sentiments, but here goes: excitement — Glaciers, whales and penguins, here we come!), disbelief (Can this really be happening?), fear (Ugh, Drake passage!), and calm (This feels right!).

We’d like to thank everyone for their input and thoughts — on our post, the Uncornered Market Facebook Page, and our personal Facebook pages. Thanks to all of this, we’ve been put in touch with new people and we’d like to think we’re just a little bit smarter than we were before.

We really do appreciate our community and its collective wisdom.

We’d also like to thank the Twitter community – our own network and the wider Twitterverse — for playing an integral part in the unfolding of this story. Since the odds of joining a last-minute March departure for Antarctica seemed stacked against us, we didn’t dive deep into an online research project to ferret out last minute offers.

Instead, we relied mainly on Twitter. One tweet and one response was all it took to get the ball rolling.

The “Oh Shit” Moment: Online Buyer Beware

Although this may come as a surprise to some, not everything on the internet — Twitter included — is accurate or legitimate. So everything went smoothly with our Antarctica agent in Ushuaia, Argentina until it came time to fork over our credit card number. The problem wasn’t the agent, but us.

We stepped back: Do we really know who this woman is? Can we be guaranteed the tour we were promised? Could this be a scam?

Just call it a healthy dose of skepticism honed from years of experience on and off the road.

We went into investigative mode to confirm the legitimacy of our agent and the offer. We searched for our agent’s name online. We called the tour operator actually running the tour to confirm that our agent had a relationship with them.

Then came the moment when the tour operator indicated that while the agent was legitimate, there were no spaces available on the tour she was attempting to sell us. Either the whole thing was a scam or there was a mix-up (thus the great price).

Our hearts sank. We stepped back again. If a bait-and-switch was at work or an honest mix-up had placed our desired itinerary out of reach or out of our price range, we were prepared to skip Antarctica altogether this time around.

If the stars aligned, great. But if they didn’t, we weren’t going to force the issue.

As it turns out, a group had canceled their reservations, but our agent and tour operator had not fully settled the issue. I expressed my concerns about handing over our credit card number for such a large amount of money without a more solid guarantee. The agent completely understood and suggested we complete the transaction directly with the tour operator. Perfect.

Putting it all together

Within a couple of hours of booking our tour, we booked flights south from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia through El Calafate, sorted accommodation, and organized gear and clothing rental. (We had to laugh at ourselves as we searched for budget hostels after booking a not-so-budget tour.) Add to this the need to pack out of our apartment in Buenos Aires and make our way on a boat to Uruguay the next day.

Time to take a deep breath.

——-

Our flexible style of travel allows us to act on impulse and take advantage of opportunities when they arise. Sometimes, however, we miss out because we haven’t planned far enough in advance. But every now and then (e.g., Galapagos Islands and Antarctica), the stars align and we’re off on a new adventure.

———————


G Adventures tours to Antarctica

The Antarctica tour we took with G Adventures was paid for by us and went south of the Antarctic Circle. We highlight this feature as most tours to Antarctica do not go this far south. If you plan to book this or another tour with G Adventures, please consider starting the process by clicking on the ad to the left. The price stays the same to you and we earn a small commission. Thank you!

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Comments

  1. Agne says

    Wow! That’s great, guys!!!! I am so excited for you both – can’t wait for all the cool pictures you’ll take and all the stories you’ll tell. Have a safe and wonderful tour!

  2. says

    That’s so exciting! You know you won’t regret a decision like that. That kind of spontaneity is what we’re looking forward to on our new nomadic adventure. So, how much does it cost to go to Antarctica? Have a fantastic trip. I can’t wait for the photos.

  3. says

    How exciting!! I think this is definitely the right decision. Had I been in your shoes, I know I would have forever regretted giving up a chance to go to Antarctica, even if I would have wound up saving money and seeing more of S. America because of it!

  4. says

    Audrey and Daniel, what a spine tingling adventure! I have read very little on Antarctica since my main interest are tropical locales. Your take will be interesting, peppered with your usual vigor and sense of thoughtfulness. Can’t wait. :)

  5. says

    Get ready to see something really unique! Make sure not to forget anything, nor wire nor battery, there’s nowhere to get them there.

  6. Don says

    Best of luck to you guys. You have a unamimous cheering section out here
    and we’ll all be waiting for what we know will be some wonderful photos.

  7. says

    Thanks to all of you for your awesome support and excitement for us! It’s hard to believe we’ll be heading south in a couple of days to start this adventure. We’ve got some pressure now to take great photos to share you all :)

    @Craig: Yes, there was a tour option at $3,500 but it didn’t go past the polar circle so we chose the longer option that was a bit more.

    @Erin: The answer to your question about the cost of an Antarctica tour really has a million answers! From what we’ve seen, a tour (10-11 days) to Antarctica can cost anywhere from $3,500 for a last minute cancellation to $10,000 for a small boat in the high season (Jan/February). The season, size of boat, how far ahead you book the tour and many other factors affect the price.

  8. says

    Yay!! Congrats on the decision and I look forward to what are surely going to be amazing photos when you get back. Safe travels and can’t wait to hear about your experience!

  9. says

    @Taru: Thanks. It looks that way so far.
    @Shannon: Thanks for the well wishes. We’ll be blogging and tweeting along the way. Gap Adventures has kindly provided us internet along the way.

    Follow our Antarctica trip as we go:
    Stream of select photos (we’ll upload more when we got back on unfrozen land):
    http://www.uncorneredmarket.com/photos/tag/dna2antarctica/page1/
    Twitter hash-tag for the trip:
    http://twitter.com/search?q=%23dna2antarctica
    Our Facebook fan page:
    http://www.facebook.com/UncorneredMarket

  10. says

    @Katie: We didn’t rent winter gear from Buenos Aires, but from Ushuaia instead. The name of the place was Jumping Rental Ski at #128 on 9 de Julio street – a large selection of jackets, boots, waterproof pants, etc.

    Some Antarctica tours are now providing jackets and boots, so be sure to check the details of your tour before renting gear. Have fun!

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