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Published on May 27, 2011
Join Globe Trekker Zay Harding on an epic adventure to the ends of the earth, from the southernmost tip of Argentina to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, the South Shetland Islands, and on to Antarctica.
Our journey begins in Ushuaia, Argentina with Zay Harding boarding the Russian research vessel the Akademic Ioffe. 46,000 tourists made the voyage to Antarctica in 2008. It is one of the world's fastest growing travel destinations.
At his first island stopover in the outer Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), Zay befriends a party of avid birdwatchers and visits an albatross nesting colony. Next, it's onto the capital Port Stanley to meet a fourth generation local, and learn all about the bloody 1982 conflict between Britain and Argentina.
Leaving the Falkland Islands we sail to sub Antarctic South Georgia, where fur and leopard seals jostle for space with king penguins, while giant skuas swoop overhead. The dramatic backdrop is mountains, glaciers, green grass, sand beaches and floating icebergs. Zay drops in at Gold Harbor to commune with the impressive king penguin. 50,000 of them crowd the beach in front of him.
Zay walks the final part of Ernest Shackleton's famous trek and drinks a toast to the great explorer's grave at Grytviken Whaling Station. Among the abandoned ruins, we learn about the bloody practices that were used to commercially kill whales and extract their oil up until 1964.
The final part of Zay's journey south sees the ship's course hijacked by floating pack ice. Forced to detour via the South Shetland Islands, he stops at King George Island, home to the Antarctic base stations of 7 countries. Moving on, at long last Zay catches glimpse of the Antarctic Peninsula itself. Humpback whales greet the ship 's arrival before he steps foot for the first time on the world's coldest, windiest, and also fifth largest continent: Antarctica