When I first heard of this particular cruise to South Georgia aboard the Hans Hansson, I was immediately enthralled. A chance to return to the polar region, explore this legendary island, observe scientists at work, experience a small boat expedition to South Georgia - I was hooked & knew I didn't want to miss this boat!
Packing for an Expedition
I started to ponder what I would need to pack for a month long cruise in such a remote area. I like to travel as minimally as possible but this cruise would be a challenge. There would be no convenience store - no gift shop to rely upon for the forgotten item. I would need to pack wisely.
At the bare minimum, I would need to bring a few cameras, winter gear, and - especially tricky - enough toiletries for a month. Laying out just these 'bare essentials' on my floor, I soon resigned myself to the necessity of packing a larger than carry-on sized piece of luggage. Another consideration with this trip the fact that it would require several flights - and checked luggage doesn't always make the connection.
So I divided the gear and packed my carry-on backpack with the bare essentials: iPhone, noise cancellation headphones, camera gear, waterproof jacket & pants, seasickness medication, extra base layer top & bottom, pair of wool socks - and even squeezed in my Muck Boots! So in the event my second bag missed a connection - I would at least have these essentials with me for the month. (And maybe a few Falkland Island t-shirts, if needed.)
The First Step of a Journey
So the long awaited day finally arrived and I shuffled aboard Chicago's Blue Line train with my two bags on my way to O'Hare Airport to begin the very first leg of my South Georgia adventure.
My path would be: Chicago > Sao Paulo, Brazil > Santiago, Chile > Puntas Arenas, Chile (to catch the once the week flight to) > Mount Pleasant Airport, Falkland Islands. Then a one hour bus ride from the Mount Pleasant airport to the port of Stanley where the Hans Hansson awaited.
I just needed to reach the Stanley dock. From here it would be up to the Skipper to navigate the last bit to the island of South Georgia - a journey of 5 days of open sea!
BASIC INFORMATION ON THE CRUISE:
- Chartered by Cheesemans Ecological Safaris
- Aboard the Hans Hansson
- 16 people: 10 Tourists; 2 Scientists with PenguinLifelines; Skipper, First Mate & Crew
- 4-5 days open sea commute to island from Stanley
- Shackleton Hike from Fortuna Bay to Stromness
- Visit coincided with Southern elephant seal breeding season (Beachmasters)
- Visit was timed before the return of Fur seals en masse
- King, Gentoo, Chinstrap, Macaroni, Magellanic penguins - even an Adelie!
- Southern Elephant, Fur seals - even a Leopard seal!
- Albatross - Wandering, Sooty, Grey-headed, Black-browed, etc
- Icebergs, glaciers and snow capped mountains
- Historic, abandoned whaling stations
- SO much fun & I'm going to try to share it with you!