Antarctica is as close as we can get to visiting another planet while still remaining on Earth – and that’s exactly why Dr. Lee G. Simmons (Doc), chairman of the board of the Omaha Zoo Foundation, and his wife, Marie, chose it for their January 2020 expedition.
“The views are simply out-of-this-world,” says Doc, who has visited the southernmost continent before. “No pictures can do justice to the sight of a monstrous glacier calving icebergs into the ocean. Or the surreal arches and spires and windows that the water has sculpted into floating icebergs. You just have to see it for yourself.”
Doc and Marie’s group of 18 guests will fly to Santiago and then to Ushuaia on the very tip of Argentina, before embarking on a 10-day, ultra-luxury, small-ship cruise across the legendary Drake Passage; through the Antarctic Sound (where the only sight more dramatic than the icebergs are the legions of wildlife that inhabit them); around the Antarctic Peninsula and then back to the Drake Passage via the South Shetland Islands, which is home to the greatest biological diversity in all Antarctica, including Deception Island, an active volcano that last erupted 10,000 years ago, forming a caldera that filled with warm seawater to become a naturally protected harbor.
“Even though I’d read about Deception Island and its warm water bay, it was one of the things that surprised me most, and I want to see it again,” says Doc, who adds that the area was a popular station for pre-Industrial Era wooden whaling ships. “You could have the worst storm in history raging outside the caldera, and inside your ship would be safe.”
The route also includes circumnavigating Cape Horn, and the latitudes between 40 and 50 degrees south of the equator, known as the Roaring 40s. “Back in the day, ships would try for months and months to get around it, and sometimes they’d just have to turn around. At the wrong time of year, it’s the worst weather on earth!” Doc says with excitement. “But we’re going in January, which is exactly the right time of year.”
January, the height of summer in Antarctica, is also one of the best times to see wildlife, including Emperor, Gentoo, Chinstrap, Adélie and King penguins; Weddell, Southern Fur, Southern Elephant, Crabeater, and Leopard seals; and many types of bird and whale species.
“This will be different from many of the other trips we’ve taken in that we won’t be riding around in the sun and dust in a Land Rover,” Doc says. “But we’ll still have the chance to get up close and personal with the animals, both from on board the ship and by little zodiac boats that will enable us to go ashore and walk amongst the penguins.”
For more information about joining us on this once in a lifetime trip to Antarctica, please contact Tina or Luke at the Omaha Zoo Foundation: 402-738-2073.