Today wraps up one of the most incredible trips of my life — An 18 day sailing expedition with Hurtigruten which took myself and 400 passengers to Montevideo, Uruguay –> Puerto Madryn, Argentina –> The Falkland Islands (3 islands) –> Antarctica (3 days) –> Cape Horn, Chile –> The Chilean Fjords and finally to Puentas Arenas, Chile.

Here is a map of our journey:

Before I get into further details about this amazing trip, I’ve had a lot of inquiries about booking this expedition, so I have spoken with Hurtigruten and they’ve decided to give you all a special deal if interested!

If you’d like to book a Hurtigruten Expedition to Antarctica, please email [email protected] with the subject title: DREW IN ANTARCTICA and they will give you a special price depending on which voyage you are interested in 🙂

Also, if you are more of a visual person and don’t want to spend 20 minutes reading this article – then please watch the following video which summarizes my Hurtigruten expedition in 2 minutes:

An Expedition of a Lifetime to Antarctica

This 18-day Hurtigruten expedition has been one of the best (if not THE best) trips of my life.

Not only because of the fantastic places we’ve been so far (Uruguay, Argentina, Falkland Islands, Antarctica, and soon-to-be Chile…) but because of the incredible hospitality and education I’ve received on board the ship.

From the over-the-top friendly staff members, to the delicious 5-star dining and everything in between – I don’t want this trip to end!!

The most unique part about Hurtigruten is the learning aspect – where we have daily science labs, lectures and seminars led by the highly skilled expedition team, who teach us about the nature, wildlife, history and environment of the places we are visiting. How cool is that?

I made this video because I want to show you how hospitality should be, everywhere in the world. Hurtigruten has set the bar really high.

If you are interested to know more details about this trip to Antarctica, send an email to [email protected] with the subject line ‘DREW IN ANTARCTICA’ and they will give you a special offer!

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Music: Ben Sound

Posted by Drew Binsky on Sunday, November 5, 2017

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As most of you probably know, I am a city guy. I spend most of my time in big cities, such as Hanoi or Prague, as I love the hustle-and-bustle of it all.

But after this experience, I am definitely turning to more of a nature guy. This trip has sparked my interest in wildlife, the natural environment and especially, in conservation. I can sense that it will be the start of many nature-filled expeditions ahead!

Truth is, I have never witnessed (or dreamed of) such a vast and diverse scenery than I have over the last 18 days of my life, nor seen wildlife this rich and active.   It’s inexplainable. I saw several different species of penguins, whales, dolphins sea lions, birds, sheep – you name it, all living in their natural habitats.  It felt like I was watching the Discovery Channel in real-life!

Hurtigruten is a fantastic, well-run company in every aspect.  I am thoroughly impressed by their over-the-top hospitality and friendly service.

Our ship, the MS Midnatsol, carried roughly 400 passengers who came from all over the world. Mostly Germans, French, English and Americans – but I also made new friends from Sweden, China, Chile, Israel, Italy, Finland and Australia. Everyone on board has one thing in common – the urge to adventure and explore remote places that few people have seen.  The size of the MS Midnatsol was perfect so everyone can get to know each other by the end of the trip – my only other “cruise” experience was 5,000+ people on board.  I prefer this Hurtigruten experience by a LONGSHOT!

Our ship was as clean, spacious and as luxury as they come.   9 decks, jacuzzis, saunas, modern facilities, bars, restaurants, comfortable leisure rooms — and of course, the food was amazing – organized by head chef, Anders.   It was basically like eating at a Michelin star restaurant daily – sirloins steaks, sushi, pasta, grilled salmon, home-baked bread, salads, vegetables, and condiments – I am so spoiled after this trip!

The rooms were extra comfortable – especially the beds and hot showers. I never had any issues with anything on board, and the wifi was particularly strong (I was expecting to be offline most of the trip, but everyday we had strong enough wifi signals for me to upload videos – even in Antarctica)!

The staff (expedition team) was made up highly trained individuals who are passionate about the wildlife and natural environment of the places we went. We had more than 2 dozen marine biologists, geologists, historians and ornithologists on board who gave us some insight about each destination.   I made friends with many of them and they are truly wonderful people!

The other staff (crew) members were mostly Filipinos, which was extra-awesome for my Deanna and I because she is from the Philippines and we have been living there for the last 4 months. And you may know that the Philippines is my favorite country on earth!   So between the passengers and the crew, I am proud to say that I have hundreds of new friends!

I also want to point out that this expedition was very eco friendly and educational. Throughout the journey, there are lecture halls and science exhibits, held by the expedition team experts, where they taught us about the wildlife and nature of the places we visited. It was like going to fun classes of higher education — I now have my degree in the wilderness.

Hurtigruten organizes various excursions on select destinations, which I participated and enjoyed. My favorites were snow shoeing and admiring the Magellanic penguin colonies in Patagonia, Argentina.

Once again, if you are interested in booking an expedition to Antarctica with Hurtigruten, please email [email protected] with the subject title: DREW IN ANTARCTICA and they will give you a special price 🙂  Please note that prices for every trip varies (depending on location, duration, time of year, etc) – so you can check their website to find a voyage that suits your interest.

Alright, now that you have a little background information about the ship – let’s look deeper at the places we visited in chronological order.  Please note that I made videos in each destination, which I will share at the end of each description.  Hope you enjoy!

Destinations We Visited on the MS Midnatsol

Stop #1. Montevideo, Uruguay

Uruguay’s capital city was the start of our trip, where we went on a guided tour around Montevideo.

It was quite a nice start to the trip, as everyone was just getting settled in and getting to know each other. The organized bus tour lasted about 4 hours and then we got dropped off at the boat.  The highlights of Montevideo were seeing the Parliament building, the main square and this viewpoint overlooking the sea. 

Stop #2. Puerto Madryn, Argentina

After 2 days at sea, we arrived at a small port town in Argentina’s Patagonia region called Puerto Madryn. It’s actually located on a UNESCO site called Peninsula Valdes, which gets its fame for its diverse wildlife, deep sea, and natural beauty. We docked for 24 hours at Puerto Madryn.  The first afternoon/evening we just walked around the town and got some great seafood dinner.

The following morning, a 5AM wake up call took us to see the largest colony of Magellanic penguins in South America (1.5 million of them!) They were all coming to the mainland to mate and breed in time for warmer summer days ahead.   Most of the penguins were seen sitting under small shrubs, protecting their eggs – and they were so cute! Penguins have always been my favorite animal, so this was extra special for me to see them in their natural habitat (the first time of many on this trip).

Puerto Madryn also has some incredible whale watching, where thousands of Southern Right Whales (up to 15 meters long) are breaching out in the open sea.   Unbelievable.

Millions of Penguins Migrating in Patagonia, Argentina

BUCKET LIST DONE!! Seeing Penguins in their natural habitat!!!

Yesterday, I went on an excursion with Hurtigruten to witness the largest colony of Magellanic penguins (over 1.5 MILLION of them) migrate from the cold waters to the shores here in Patagonia, Southern Argentina to breed and protect their eggs for the warmer summer months ahead (remember the seasons are reversed down here). IT WAS SO COOL!

Penguins have always been my favorite animals, and this was a very unique and special experience for me. I could have spent weeks with these little guys – they are so cute!

We are now at sea for a few days before reaching the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) where we will see a different species of penguins, along with whales, fur seals and stunning nature. YAY!

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Music: Kevin MacLeod

Posted by Drew Binsky on Friday, October 27, 2017

 

Stop #3. Falkland Islands (New Island)

After 2 more days at Sea, we arrived at the Falkland Islands. Our first landing was at a tiny remote island in the West called New Island, which has a population of exactly 2 residents, John and Charlene (who I interviewed in the video below).

New Island has superb wildlife, most notably giant colonies of Rockhopper Penguins – the little guys with red eyes and spikey yellow eyebrows!! They are curious little fellas who are not shy to walk right up to us (even though we weren’t allowed to get near them, but if they approach us then it’s okay). I spent several hours just staring in amazement at them.

On our way out of the island, we all jumped little boats (zodiacs) back to our ship. The ride was only 10 minutes long, but there were 5 dolphins jumping around our boat the entire way back! It was amazing!!!

I would love to go back to New Island someday, and at least, show John and Charlene the video I made about them! 

There’s Only 2 People Living on This Remote Falkland Island…

Can you imagine living ALONE on an isolated island, that’s freezing cold and windy all year-round? These two folks, John and Charlene, do!!!

Today, we arrived on the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), our second stop of this Hurtigruten expedition. The Falklands are an archipelago of 740 islands in the South Atlantic Sea — and we’ve landed on a tiny one in the Western part called ‘New Island’… It’s the most remote place I’ve ever been in my life, with some of the most incredible nature & wildlife I’ve seen (Rockhopper penguins, giant albatross, humpback whales, dolphins, black fur seals, wild rabbits and more). I felt like I was watching the Discovery Channel in real life!

I interviewed both John and Charlene about their lifestyles on New Island, why they decided to move here, etc — because I find it fascinating… And I think you will too…

Could you ever live in complete isolation like they do? I don’t think I could.

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Music: Audio Autix

P.S. — I had no idea that this island had inhabitants until we landed ashore today and were greeted by John and Charlene… so everything in this video was spontaneous and unplanned. Of course, I couldn’t NOT make a video about these lovely people!!

Posted by Drew Binsky on Saturday, October 28, 2017

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Stop #4. Falkland Islands (Carcass Island) 

Our next stop in the Falklands was Carcass Island. Another island with only a few residents. Despite the weather being rainy and windy, we managed to trek 4km across the rugged terrain of the island!

Along the way, we came across several species of penguins (Magellanic, Gentoo), as well as giant black-browed albatross, leopard seals and more dolphins nearby the rocky shore.

When we finished our 2 hour walk in the tundra, we were greeted by a local Falklander inside of his house for some tea, coffee and the BEST pastries I’ve ever had. I cannot tell you how amazing these pastries were – his chef was pumping out pastry after pastry and we all stuffed our faces in happiness. I will never forget this experience.

Stop #5. Falkland Islands (Stanley)

Our last stop in the Falklands was the capital and largest town called Stanley.

I was excited to visit here because I am really interested to see how the locals live in settlements, and I got a great taste of it by indulging in the local pubs, eating at restaurants and meeting some locals around the island. I was shocked to see how British they are (more on that in my video below!)

After walking around Stanley, I went on another excursion with Hurtigruten called the “nature trek.” The group was about 10 of us with a local tour guide (Sally, who is a 5th generation Falklander), who took us around the coastline to Gypsy Cove and shared her knowledge along the way. I learned lot about the complicated history of the Falklands, which I will not discuss in this blog post, but if you watch the video below then you can learn a little about it!

How British Are The Falkland Islands?

Red Telephone Booths? English Speaking? Fish ‘n Chips?

That’s the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) in a nutshell — THEY ARE SHOCKINGLY BRITISH, more so than anywhere I’ve been in Great Britain. I cannot tell you how bizarre it is to be 8,000 miles away from the U.K., and feel this strong of a British influence.

As many of you may know, the history of the Falklands is complicated and bloody… The sovereignty of the islands is part of an ongoing dispute between the U.K. and nearby Argentina, as it was fought out over a brutal 10-week war in 1982, which ultimately led to Argentina surrendering. The conflict still exists today, more than you might imagine.

I made this video to teach you a little about the history of the Falklands, as well as show you some things I’ve discovered and learned over the last 3 days I spent here with Hurtigruten. Have I mentioned that the nature and wildlife in the Falklands is breathtaking?!

Just out of curiosity — did you already know about the British influence of the Falklands? Or is this all news to you?

‘Like’ Drew Binsky on Facebook for more fun travel videos, and join me on Insta/Snap @drewbinsky 🙂

Music: Ben Sound & Kevin MacLeod

Posted by Drew Binsky on Monday, October 30, 2017

Stops #6, #7 & #8 ANTARCTICA (3 days)

Ah – now the real trip has begun! I grouped these 3 days together because Antarctica is best to describe in one place as opposed to several mini-explanations…  When I say ‘describe’ — please note that this is my attempt to describe what I saw… It’s nearly impossible to explain what I saw in any words, photos or videos — but anyways, I will do my best.

We had 2 long days at sea across the rough Drake Passage (which actually wasn’t as bad as I thought because the MS Midnatsol is made to handle rough seas).   I was mostly laying down and I didn’t even get seasick!!

As we progressed, the temperature dropped significantly, and the nature became breathtaking. In other words, everything got freezing cold and turned to ice.  All of the grass/rock from the Falklands turned completely white.

On November 2, 2017, I officially took my first step on continent #7 – and a place I’ve only dreamed of visiting.  ANTARCTICA!

As cliché as it sounds – words just cannot describe Antarctica.   I am not a religious person by any means, but the only word I can use to explain Antarctica is spiritual.   It’s one of those places that you need to experience, feel and witness with your own naked eyes.  The Antarctic Peninsula and surrounding nature is overpowering.

Throughout the 3 days, we made 3 separate landings – twice on nearby islands and once on the actual peninsula itself. Since only 150 people are allowed to be on land at any given time in Antarctica, half of the passengers went cruising in small zodiac boats, while the other half went on land to go trekking, snow shoeing or penguin watching.

I saw several types of penguin species, like the adeile, chinstrap and gentoo, as well as many birds and even a few leopard seals!

Here are a few videos that I made while in Antarctica:

ANTARCTICA VIDEOS:

7 Mind-Blowing Facts About ANTARCTICA

ANTARCTICA IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACE I’VE EVER BEEN! This tops any travel experience or moment in my entire life.

In all honesty, I can’t describe to you how overpowering this scenery is — from the light-blue-colored icebergs sitting on top of crystal-clear sea water, to the the dominating white mountains and the unique wildlife living in between it all. My fingers are shaking as I type this, because I still cannot get over what I have been experiencing. Or am I dreaming right now? Someone come here and pinch me.

In this video, find out 7 interesting facts about Antarctica that I’ve discovered over the last 3 days spent here with Hurtigruten.

Comment below if you have any interest in coming to Antarctica, and I can send you more details!

‘Like’ Drew Binsky on Facebook for more fun travel videos, and join me on Insta/Snap @drewbinsky

Music: Kevin MacLeod

Posted by Drew Binsky on Friday, November 3, 2017

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Is Climate Change Real?

I’ve never realized the effect of climate change until coming to Antarctica — learning about the rapid ice melting, seeing the declining penguin species, and noticing several other negative impacts that higher temperatures bring to this environment and eco system.

The Western Antarctica Peninsula (in particular), where I’ve been the last 3 days, has warmed up more over the last 40 years than any other place on Earth. I sat down with John Chardine – one of the climate change experts & ornithologists on board our Hurtigruten expedition, and I asked him a few questions.

What are your thoughts on climate change? What actions can you take (or are taking) to overcome it?

‘Like’ Drew Binsky on Facebook for more travel videos, and join me on Insta/Snap @drewbinsky

Music: Kevin MacLeod

Posted by Drew Binsky on Saturday, November 4, 2017

Stop #9. Cape Horn, Chile

Chilean Fjords (2 days) 

After Antarctica, we headed 1.5 days back over the Drake Passage (which was VERY calm this time around) until we reached the southernmost point of the South American continent – Cape Horn, Chile.

This was my very first time in Chile (country #118!), and it’s safe to say that it’s not how I expected it! Well, that’s probably because Chile is the longest country (vertically) in the world. It starts as a desert in the North, and then turns into a magical wonderland of fjords in the south.

Cape Horn is notorious for being a “sailors graveyard” in that it’s the dangerous place for sailors to cross beacuse of the year-round hazardous weather.   It’s normal to have strong ocean currents, gale force winds and massive waves… not to mention, the remoteness of these islands, far away from any civilization, make it very difficult to escape or call for help in an emergency situation.

Most attempted landings to Cape Horn fail because of the wind & rain, but on this day, we got EXTREMELY lucky with sunshine and moderate winds. I was told that this day is 1 in 100 by some of our crew members who have been to Cape Horn dozens of times.   What a day it was!

VIDEO FROM CAPE HORN:

Too Dangerous to Sail? A Look Inside CAPE HORN, CHILE

HELLO FROM THE END OF THE WORLD & my 118th country… Cape Horn, Chile!

Cape Horn is the second-to-last stop on our Hurtigruten Expedition (I really don’t want this trip to end!). It’s the Southernmost point in South America, and the place where the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans meet.

Cape Horn is widely considered to have the most dangerous seas for sailors to cross, as thousands of lives have been taken since it was first discovered in 1616 by Dutch explorers. The hazardous year-round weather produces strong ocean currents, gale force winds and massive waves… Not to mention, the remoteness of these islands, far away from any civilization, make it very difficult to escape or call for help in an emergency situation.

Most attempted landings to Cape Horn fail because of the wind & rain, but today we got EXTREMELY lucky with sunshine and moderate winds. I was told that this day is 1 in 100 by some of our crew members who have been to Cape Horn dozens of times.

Have you ever heard about Cape Horn? It’s a very interesting place to add to your bucket list!

‘Like’ Drew Binsky on Facebook for more fun travel videos, and join me on Insta/Snap @drewbinsky

Special Thanks to my friend & photographer Andreas Anderson for some of these shots. Check out his awesome Instagram @fotografkalvig

Music: Kevin MacLeod

Posted by Drew Binsky on Monday, November 6, 2017

After Cape Horn, we progressed upwards through the lovely Chilean Fjords.  We didn’t make a stop on land, which wasn’t really necessary because we could enjoy the beautiful fjords from the outside decks.  They bring back memories from when I saw the fjords in Western Norway and South Island, New Zealand.

That pretty much summarizes the last 18 days of my life.  I hope you enjoyed reading and watching about my experience on board this Hurtigruten MS Midnatsol expedition!! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly, and if you are interested in booking an expedition with Hurtigruten, please email [email protected] with the subject title: DREW IN ANTARCTICA and they will give you a special price 🙂

Disclaimer: This trip was sponsored by Hurtigruten and I received compensation from them.   As always, all thoughts, opinions and feelings in this article are 100% honest and from my own personal experiences.  I always maintain complete creative control of my social media posts, videos and articles. 

Drew Binsky

A graduate from The University of Wisconsin-Madison, Drew Binsky has visited 120+ Countries since 2012.He first caught the travel bug while studying abroad in Prague, then taught English in Korea, and now he's on a mission to visit every country on earth.Follow his journey on Facebook & Instagram @drewbinsky 🙂

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12 thoughts on “An 18-Day Expedition of a Lifetime to Antarctica with Hurtigruten

  1. Very nice information about Antractica, from where would you recommend to leave for Anatrctica? If someone is living in Thailand

  2. Hi Kristen,
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  3. I would love to visit Antartica some day soon…it’s on my bucket list for a long time however it’s very difficult to find a reliable agency who can do it…
    Your article will come handy thanks

  4. Omg you travel and make videos and play golf … marry me lol I’ve been caddying for 5 years now and I love golf … every time the season ends I travel. 🙂 8 months of work … 4 months of travel. I’m from Chicago, IL and San Salvador, SV

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