I knew for sure that it was going to be one hell of a journey. But I still did not visualise it because I had no reference pictures in my mind that would trigger the white icy landscapes of Antarctica. I had been to Tibet and Nepal but this was another experience. Not to mention, it was my first experience of luxury travel from India. The entire trip lasting 13 days cost me 11 lakh rupees. Yes, but it was all first class. A luxury cruise from Ushuaia to Antarctica through the famous Drake Passage. But before one could reach the last town and human civilisation before the icy desert arrives, one had to get to Argentina. I booked KLM all the way from Delhi to Amsterdam to Sao Paulo to Buenos Aires. These were 15 hour plus long flights. By the time I reached my luxury room in the port town of Ushuaia, I was dead as a beast. In all the cities, I was a transit passenger. I managed to sleep for some time in a transit hotel room in Brazil but that was as far as I got in that country. We took an internal flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and was to meet at the airport with people from Q Travels, our luxury tour and travel company, who had also brought a group of about 40 more people from India. So, need I say more? I was in good company of the elites amongst Indian society.
Our accommodation in Ushuaia was five-star. It was a lodge overlooking a mountain and we were on the edge. You could see the sea from the top and there was an amazing sunset amongst the misty hills that evening. There were all sorts of people – doctors, eye surgeons, traders and, of course, humble travel bloggers like me. There were couples with families, older single men and young new-age couples; we had a great mix of people. I, amongst them, must be the most casually dressed. Next morning, we did a town and park tour of Ushuaia. This was the best time to take photographs and capture the beauty of the place. But, by the evening, it had started to rain and a chilly wind started blowing all over the place. It was time to take the jackets and gloves out. Yes, sir, this was the first chill, the first feel of what the weather would be like as we headed closer to the magical white continent of Antarctica. The temperate was minus 3 that night and it was getting cold.
There was a touch of Indian food in the dinner that was served at the lounge. Indeed, there was a very special touch from Q Travels. In fact, we always had a choice of an Indian meal throughout our journey even on the cruise. We were all very well taken care of and guided. Most of the things happened on time. Yes, it had started to sink in that I was finally there. I was very close to a land that only a few can aspire to reach and explore.