Pre-trip briefing

quark employee briefing passengers on embarkation procedures

Tonight we had our briefing with the Quark ground guy here, who explained embarkation procedures. We set sail around 6pm tomorrow night, sailing out of the Beagle Channel, which takes a few hours. We will hit open water (i.e., the Drake Passage) around midnight. He let us know that once we’re on the ship they will tell us “how to prepare your cabin for the night” (not to have things loose, etc.) and he prepped us on when to take seasickness meds. (The patch–apply around the time of embarkation; the pills–take around dinner time.)

I probably will not manage to update this blog while we are on the ship. But I will post again once we are back in Ushuaia at the end of the trip. Ciao for now!

Tierra del Fuego


We made it to Ushuaia with no problems. Landing here was amazing…flying in low over all the gorgeous mountain peaks. Yesterday we spent the day in the Tierra del Fuego National Park hiking.


It is funny that this sign randomly gives the distance to Alaska, because our next big trip after this one happens to be to Alaska.


The bus takes you in to the park and drops you at one of a couple of spots, then picks you up again at one of those spots a few hours later. The busses that pick you up come every two hours. The map we had gotten at the entrance was not the best, and that coupled with the fact that we weren’t actually sure at which spot on the map we were dropped off, we spent an hour or two totally confused as we hiked. We eventually hiked enough that we figured out where we were, and we were able to get to one of the pick-up spots. While we were having lunch, we met two other Americans hiking who asked us, “Do you know where we are on this map?”

The planning is over

suitcases packed for antarcticaWe are outta here! I’m kind of out of my mind with excitement!

Green backpack has my clothes. Black backpack has Jeff’s clothes. Black rolling carry-on has camera gear. Gray tote bag has random carry-on items like book, neck pillow, eye mask for airplane, etc.

I expect to have internet while we’re in Ushuaia, so I’ll probably update from there before we board the ship. Internet on the ship will be spotty so I don’t know if I’ll manage to update anything while we’re actually there, but I will try.

Final preparations

We leave in just a few days.

I’ve been making the final preparations. I’ve paid Argentina’s reciprocity fee. $160 fee per person (for U.S. citizens), paid before you leave, because we charge Argentinians $160 to enter the U.S. So we have to show the receipt at customs when we enter, and then it’s good for entry for 10 years.

I’ve booked airport transfers coming and going. We have to change airports in Buenos Aires from the international to the domestic airport.

We’ve practiced packing to make sure we have everything we think we do.

We are meeting my uncle, who we are traveling with, at the hotel in Ushuaia.

Layers, layers, layers

Final documents from Quark include a “pre-expedition briefing” in PDF form, which opens with a list of six things to remember, like that you must have a passport valid for at least six months after the trip, you must confirm whether you need a visa to enter Argentina, you must book your own flights to/from Ushuaia, and you must bring waterproof pants for wearing in the zodiacs. LOL. Passport, visa, flights, waterproof pants. Check.

Let’s talk about layers. It seems the general advice for clothing in Antarctica is 3 layers on bottom, 4 layers on top. Plus stuff for your extremities. The average daily temperatures are reported to be between 25 and 35F, but it can be very windy. It can also snow/blizzard at any time, and there are the zodiac rides to contend with (splashes as you cruise to/from land). The water there is 28 degrees F, btw. (Did I mention that they offer a polar plunge?)

Staying dry and warm are the two main issues. I want to have as many options for layering as possible. So here’s what I’m bringing. I did buy a lot of new stuff for this trip. I basically used it as an excuse to upgrade all my ski stuff, which was all old and bought with no research (it was before the internet!).

To start with, Quark gives us the jackets. We will all get these big bright yellow jackets, which have a zip-out fleece liner. So the outermost layer is taken care of. They also loan us the waterproof boots for wearing on landings, so we don’t have to worry about that.

clothes for antarcticaLeft to right, top to bottom.

Patagonia nano puff jacket hoody. This was my biggest debate—hood or no? I settled on hood b/c even though it looks goofy (elastic around the face) it’ll go over my hair even if it’s twisted up, something a hat cannot do. And I wear my hair twisted up a lot. This jacket is SO thin and it packs up into its own pocket, yet it is SO WARM. It’s also prima-loft, which is synthetic, so it still keeps you warm even if it gets wet, unlike down. So this can be an outer layer or an insulating layer.

Insulated ski pants, waterproof. I went back and forth about whether to do insulated waterproof pants, or rain pants + fleece pants (plus long underwear with either). In the end, vanity won out, b/c I like the look of the ski pants a lot more than the rain pants that I was willing to pay for. (Note: there were some $450 rain pants—no joke—that were more stylish but hello they cost $450 so no.)

Warm fleece. Crazy soft and makes you want to keep touching yourself. And I mean that in the most wholesome way possible. Also very very warm. Most likely too warm to wear as a layer on land with everything else, but will be nice for hanging out on the ship.

Water-resistant hiking pants. For hanging out on the ship.

Gloves—two pairs of waterproof ski gloves (one of which are photo gloves where you can pull back the index and thumb tips so your fingers can work the camera controls) and a pair of smartwool liners.

Long underwear bottoms, Patagonia capilene. I debated between synthetic and wool when researching, but when I went to the Patagonia store it was an easy decision. The merino wool versions cost twice what the capilene versions cost. These come in 4 different weights, 1 being the lightest, silk-weight, and 4 being expedition-weight. I went with one cap 4 and one cap 3.

Long underwear tops, Patagonia capilene. I originally bought two capilene 3 tops, but after wearing one up at Keystone in single digits and being *plenty* warm, I decided to switch out the second one for a cap 2 weight, to have more options.

Fleece-lined wool hat. I bought this in Iceland the first day there when I was freezing. It’s toasty.

Polar buff. Like they wear on Survivor! Except this is a polar version, which has a fleece part at the neck. This can be worn in lots of configurations as a scarf, hat, balaclava, etc.

UnderArmour sports bra. Hot pink b/c it was the cheapest color on Amazon. Seems comfy, has wicking ability, gives me giant uniboob. But with so many other layers, I don’t even think it will be noticeable.

Fleece. Your basic fleece. Not much else to say about this one.

I just realized I left out the socks…will be bringing one pair of smartwool ski socks, two pairs of smartwool hiking socks, and a pair of sock liners. I’ll also bring a few pairs of regular socks.

I will also bring a couple of long sleeve shirts, a pair of jeans. Pair of sneakers for wearing on the ship. Two pairs of sunglasses.

After we get back, I will post an update about how well this worked out and what I’d do differently.

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