New US Passport Laws go into effect June 1, 2009!
I admit it—-this city girl (okay–suburban girl) has morhped into an adventure-travel afficianado! To be honest, I am a lover of “soft” adventure—where I can soak up the beauty of nature, all types of flora and fauna, as well as being able to sleep “off” of the ground, take a hot shower, and eat yummy food!
I’ve traveled through: Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia—in the footsteps of Captain Cook; Antarctica; Alaska; Costa Rica; Peru; Ecaudor; the Galapagos; Argentina; Chile; Egypt; China; Indonesia; India; Fiji; the Amazon; Kenya; Tanzania; Botswana; South Africa; Zambia; Zimbabwe (when it was safe); Mauritius; Colorado; Arizona; New Mexico; northern Wisconsin; and southern Missouri (actually slept on the ground on the canoe trip—years ago!).
I’ve sampled many wonderful adventures and now I want to let you know about one of our exceptional partners, Natural Habitat Adventures. NHA knows adventure—from soft to adrelin-flowing! They follow the same philosophy as Great Getaways, which is “Cookie cutter vacations are great if you are a cookie cutter!” We both specialize in experiential travel and both companies are committed to sustainable travel. NHA guides are experienced, well-trained, knowledgeable and professional.
The trips they offer are unique! Let me give you an example: I’ve been to the Galapagos twice and hope to go back again soon. Both times I was on a wonderful expedition ship with great naturalists and guides. What I’ve discovered is that I like “small” and that is what Natural Habitat provides. The yacht they use for the Galapagos holds a maximum of 20 people and they offer something quite special and unusual—you can elect to spend the night in the highlands of Santa Cruz in a safari tent or “tree house” amid an area known for its giant tortoises! Another special offer from NHA is their new land-based Galapagos expedition, in which you stay on 3 different islands, almost unheard of, don’t you think?
This year they’ve added a few new adventures—including the Wild Colorado, Alaska’s Secluded Southeast Coast, Yosemite and the California Coast, and the remarkable San Juan Islands.
Next month I’ll tell you about an exciting opportunity to win a journey to visit the Polar Bear Capital of the World, Churchill, Manitoba, courtesy of NHA, Great Getaways and Lifetime Fitness!
So, if you are an adventurer of any kind, from soft to rugged, contact me today to experience the amazing journeys we create with Natural Habitat Adventures!
We just returned from an expedition to Antarctica with Lindblad Expeditions. It was so amazing that I am at a loss for words to describe the magic, the mystery, and the moods of this continent (me—at a loss for words???). So, please enjoy this slideshow.
We are now at Pourquoi Pas Island in Marguerite Bay on the peninsula of Antarctica. We weren’t able to land because of the ice shelf; however, we were able to take a zodiac ride and get up close to the coast. We saw lots of penguins, a squa bird (a predator of penguins) and a leopard seal (also a predator of penguins). The type of penguins we saw today are called Adelie penguins and they feed on krill, a shrimp-like organism. When we see pink snow in a penguin colony it means they’ve been feeding on krill—and it’s not a tribute to Susan Komen breast cancer awareness!
This morning we watched a “rolling” iceberg, an amazing image! Icebergs become shaped like a mushroom because they melt faster in the water than in the air. Eventually, an iceberg becomes heavy and will roll over and find a new balance point. It’s this process that sculpts the unusual shapes we see.
Temperature today is about 30 degrees and very little wind. This morning we were in a snow squall but now the sea is very calm and the sun is trying to pierce through the clouds.
This afternoon we will move to a different site, more fjord-like, and hopefully be able to actually set foot on Antarctica.
I never thought I’d “workout” at home and I used to steer clear of anything resembling a gym, fitness center, etc. Well, I finally succumbed to improving my fitness (in order to be able to continue to indulge in Good & Plenty guilt-free!). I had yet to commit to this insane fitness quest while on vacation. In fact, I believed that I’d workout in a hotel fitness center or on-board a ship only when pigs fly! Consider yourself warned that you may spot some flying pigs—yep, there been sitings of Barbara working out in Santiago and aboard the National Geographic Explorer. So, when you see some “bacon-to-be” flying by your window, you’ll now know why!
Finally, today’s factoid: the weather in Antarctica changes very rapidly. In fact, the “sun trying pierce” stuff I just wrote has changed to a small blizzard and back again!
are now at Pourquoi Pas Island in Marguerite Bay on the peninsula of Antarctica. We weren’t able to land because of the
“I should brush up on my Spanish”… leads to the many times in my life I think, “Maybe I’d like to learn to…” or I’m going to study…” or “I’m going to explore…” Just insert one of the following words to complete the sentence: Spanish, French, Chinese, Hebrew, Swahili, the Bible, ancient history, dye wool, bead, Yoga, sewing, tailoring, how to cook Indian food, make silver jewelry, read classic novels. I’m not sure when or if I’ll explore any of the above topics, but it is fun to know that life holds so much interest!
Quick update: we left Ushuaia, Argentina on Thursday evening aboard the National Geographic Explorer and we are headed towards the Antarctic peninsula. We crossed the Drake Passage with their usual rough seas (thank goodness we brought seasickness patches and never got sick!). In the wee hours of this morning we crossed the Antarctic Convergence and are officially in the Antarctic Circle. Weather is brisk, skies are spitting snow, and there is the ever present Antarctic wind. As we approach Antarctica the days are quite long and nights are quite short. For example, the sun rose today at 3:00 AM and will not set until 12:08 AM tomorrow. Tomorrow we’ll reach Marguerite Bay and take our first Zodiac ride to shore! FACTOID FOR TODAY: Antarctica is the windiest of the seven continents.
Okay, this time I am taking NO chances. Tuesday we’ll arrive in Santiago, Chile on our way to experience Lindblad’s Antarctica aboard the new National Geographic Explorer. We are supposed to have Internet connectivity; however, after the fiasco in China, I’m not too sure I’ll be able to connect to my blog (Mr. Blog Host, have you fixed the problem, yet????). So, in case I can’t blog in real time, here’s our itinerary:
December 9 – 10 — Santiago/Grand HyattWe arrive in Santiago this morning. With the soaring Andes as a backdrop, Santiago makes a spectacular and welcoming first impression — as does our hotel, the Hyatt Santiago, located in a gracious residential neighborhood. In the afternoon, we have a panoramic overview of the city including a visit to the Pre-Columbian Museum. Return to the Hyatt for a relaxing dinner. December 11 — Fly from Santiago to Ushuaia, Argentina/Embark ShipThe morning’s LAN Chile charter flight offers some rare views as we fly over the vividly rugged terrain of Patagonia before landing in Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world. We’ll have lunch during a catamaran cruise of the scenic Beage Channel before embarking National Geographic Explorer.December 12 — At Sea
We awake this morning well into our journey across the Drake Passage. Lying between Cape Horn and the Antarctic Peninsula, the Drake holds a unique place in maritime lore. Sometimes misty and gray, other times calm and clear, crossing the legendary Drake Passage is unforgettable – a milestone in any adventurer’s personal travel history.
December 13 — Antarctica
Our first landfall is at one of the many islands of the Antarctic Peninsula region, taking hikes and Zodiac forays with our Naturalists.
December 14 – 19 — Antarctica
Days 6-11 – With nearly 24 hours of daylight at this time of year, we make the most of our six days exploring the Antarctic Peninsula and its surrounding islands. Out there, our ship will freely roam. Our expedition team is a veteran one, and their expert knowledge of Antarctica’s waters enables us to take advantage of the unexpected. We’ll be out daily – experiencing Antarctica with all our senses as we walk, cruise in Zodiacs, and paddle kayaks through berg fields, hearing the Antarctic seltzer (gases escaping from dissolving icebergs) around us, the cries of the penguins, and the huge, nurturing silence of this perfectly pristine place. We may sail through the incomparable Lemaire Channel, known as Iceberg Alley, where a hush falls over onlookers as bergs of beauty and scale drift by. We’ll learn to identify penguins, paddle kayaks through berg fields and land with Zodiacs on the “White Continent.”
December 20 – 21— At Sea
As we sail back to Ushuaia, an albatross or two may join the avian escort of seabirds that cross our bow. There’ll be plenty of time to enjoy a wellness treatment, log some time in the gym, or catch up on the book you haven’t had a minute to read.
December 22 — Ushuaia/Disembark/Santiago
After breakfast, we disembark in Ushuaia with some time to explore before proceeding to the airport for our LAN Chile charter flight to Santiago, and an overnight flight to Miami.