How to Plan for a Visit to the Antarctic

January 11th, 2010 at 12:23 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

Some of you may be aware that the next expedition for The Traveling Richters is to the southern-most climes of planet Earth. We won’t quite make it to the South Pole, but we’ll be spending a couple of weeks in February in the vicinity of the Antarctic Circle, a week of which we’ll actually be making landings on various parts of the Antarctic Peninsula.

People have been asking us why we’re going there. Simple answer is that we are helping outfit a school for underprivileged penguins and to see the polar bears. Oh, so you say there are no polar bears in the Antarctic? Perhaps that’s because the penguins ate them?

Seriously, though, the Antarctic has been a dream of ours for decades, and with global climate change charging onward without a reversal in sight, we figured we had better pay our respects now before things change too much. Furthermore, even if global climate change does not materially affect the Antarctic in the next 30 years, we’d rather go now when we’re hearty and hale instead of when joint pains and older age potentially inhibit our full exploration and enjoyment of this natural wonder.

We booked our trip with Lindblad Expeditions last summer, to travel with them on their vessel, the National Geographic Explorer. Lindblad started a brilliant partnership with NatGeo several years ago, and the naming of their vessels is part of the deal, as is the inclusion of National Geographic’s experts as docents, photographers, and guides on these journeys.

Of course, being that we live in a tropical climate (the Caribbean island of Bonaire), one of the most interesting challenges has been to gather all the gear we think we will need to stay warm and relatively dry on our Antarctic journey. Lindblad has a list of recommended things to pack (PDF) for the expedition. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s taken us several months to get everything we need down to Bonaire, ensuring it all fits. One complication has been that Bas is a growing 12 year old boy and we’ve had to try and guess how much bigger he might be by mid-February, including how big his feet will be. Just one unexpected growth spurt could leave him buck naked in Antarctica (or wearing my clothes, which would be over-large on him). But we think (or hope) we have it under control.

The other issue we’ve been facing is that several of our flights have restrictions on luggage and carry-ons. Considering we’re planning on taking several computers, several DSLR cameras, a video camera or two, and who knows what else in terms of technological equipment, we’re having a heck of a time trying to figure out how to get it all on a plane with us. We’ll definitely be donning photographer’s vests on the smaller planes, and hoping that we can carry some of the bits and pieces we need that way.

In the next few weeks as we start actually packing, I will post photos here of what all is coming with us, for your amusement. And another project I’m working on is some web-based software which will allow me to upload data from my Garmin Oregon 550 GPS so that our fans can track our path on a daily basis. That of course will be contingent on two things: 1) That GPS satellites are functional that far south; and 2) that we will have a passable Internet connection that far south (there’s on-board satellite Internet on the ship).

In the meantime, we’re reading up on Chile, Easter Island, and the Antarctic, and watching the few documentaries we could find at


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One Response to “How to Plan for a Visit to the Antarctic”

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