White Wilderness, Antarctica - Photography Expedition
There's little about penguins that can't move you. Their struggle for food, their adorable gait, the way they feed their offspring and flap their flightless flippers. And the sight of them in their vast, frigid and breathtaking habitat can move even mountains, its surreality easily overwhelming the land's unforgiving brutality.
How is it?
Surrounded by the Southern Ocean and located asymmetrically around the South Pole, 98% of Antarctica is covered by the Antarctic ice sheet. And it gets much colder here than in the Arctic.During winter, the temperature reaches a minimum of between -80 °C (-112 °F) and -89.2 °C (-128.6 °F) and a maximum of between 5 °C (41 °F) and 15 °C (59 °F) near the coast in summer.
But the coldest, windiest and driest continent on this planet offers unparalleled beauty, especially when the climate turns kind a few times a year, when a plunge into this wonderland becomes possible. And that's when we make the most of it, to see life that prevails even here: how the ever-endearing penguins, the seemingly calm seals, and seabirds exist like a miracle.
In this icy white scape, the time we will visit Antarctica will have the best light conditions for photography. For natural history as well as landscape photographers, this Tour will prove to be an experience of a lifetime.
Adding some fireworks over and above all this in the winter are the southern lights (aurora australis), a glow that decorates the night sky near the South Pole. A unique spectacle called 'diamond dust' can also be seen here: a ground-level blurry cloud made of minute ice crystals.
In all it wouldn't be exaggeration to say that the general constitution of a traveller on this expedition will be warm with imagination and creative ideas and immense love for nature and its wonder, in stark contrast to the wintriness that persists.
What you will see and photograph:
The main attraction of Antarctica, apart from Antarctica itself, will be penguins — chiefly the Adélie, the chinstrap, the emperor and the gentoo.
Apart from penguins and seals, Antarctic sea life includes blue whales, orcas and colossal squids.
In Antarctica, where the sunrise and sunset hues break the monotony of white-grey landscape, you could watch seabirds flitting about, dotting the immobile frozen background. You could make images of them in flight: freeze a moment as they fly before your hungry vision seeking action.
There is something enviably calm about these seals that lie around on these sheets of ice like it's nobody's business, without a care for the rest of the world. You'll also be charmed by the indolence of the Weddell seal, the agility of the leopard seal, the size of the elephant seal and the paleness of the crabeater seal.
In the flighty bird department, the black-browed albatross is a thing of beauty to be seen and photographed. This gorgeous avian, wearing hues in harmony with its landscape and endearing in all its mythical beauty, has always been the heart-throb that everyone visiting Antarctica wants to see, the petrel being the other skysurfer to watch out for.
How you will get around:
Ferrying you ably in this expedition is the striking and spacious Polar Pioneer. For photographers and exploration enthusiasts, it is the perfect vehicle in which to navigate the waters of Antarctica. Carrying 54 passengers in supreme comfort, she takes you where others cannot. Polar Pioneer will ensure that you seldom have to keep away from the wildlife you wish to take a closer photograph of.
Roy Mangersnes is a Norwegian professional wildlife photographer, trained behaviouralist, and author who travels the world presenting his work as an experienced speaker at various international photo festivals. A Nikon Ambassador, Roy has won numerous international awards including the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010 and 2011.
Roy believes in keeping intact the story that a moment contains in its womb while he sets out to make images. His ideas breathe through his work he has made around the world – from the Arctic to the Antarctic – show his immense love not only for the breathtaking elements of the natural world but also for the process of photography.Read more about Roy here.
Behind Jayanth's awe-inspiring work are a fierce commitment to nail the composition in the field, an assiduous abstinence from digital manipulation, a nearly devotional love for quality, and zero appetite for compromise. Jayanth uses the strengths of his tools to his immense advantage, creating powerful vignettes of optical excellence designed to pamper the aesthetic corner of a nature lover.
Jayanth is one of the co-founders of Toehold and you can have a look at his work on his website www.wildlifetimes.com or keep a tab on him on his Facebook Page.
Read more about Jayanth here.
WHY GO ON A TOEHOLD PHOTO TOUR?At Toehold, we are passionate about photography just as you are, which lets us understand your travails and needs perfectly. And we use this insight to specially design our Photography Tours so they give you a toehold to excel at the art and set you up for success.
The Toehold team at your disposal will keep you tuned and geared, so you come in empty-handed but go out with bagful of images and tales of an experience that is better lived than heard.
- A clinically organized tour with utmost attention to your comfort and needs
- An open, informal environment that promotes interactive learning
- A team that will strategize and work to a plan to optimize opportunities and ensure a great tour
- Practical, hands-on assistance in photography from the tour Skippers both in the field and off it
- A wealth of subject matter knowledge
- Individual interaction with the Skippers over general or specific issues
- First-hand learning from the masters in the art and craft of photography
These exclusive, informative and interactive sessions are -
TESTIMONIALS BY OUR PREVIOUS TOUR PARTICIPANTSPhotography enthusiasts who were a part of a similar Tour previously said:
I had a great time on the Toehold tour. They took care of all the logistics so all I had to do was enjoy myself! The evening sessions were great fun and I got to interact with a lot of like-minded people. I'm already planning for my next trip with Toehold!
- Ritwick Sharma, Mumbai
I had never been on a photography trip before and so was apprehensive that I would feel out of place among photographers but I was proven totally wrong. The 'Skippers' made me totally comfortable and helped me with the most basic of my camera settings with a lot of patience, and the sightings made the experience even better and totally worth it!
- Sonali Sinha, Delhi
Going on this Toehold tour has been the most enriching experience in recent times. The amount of learning about photography that's possible just being around these guys is amazing. The best part was getting assistance from the Skippers in the field, to make the most of the opportunities we had. I'd greatly recommend Toehold tours to someone looking for a productive way to spend a few days!
- Dr. Ramesh Bhat, Bangalore
I went on a tour with Toehold to a destination I was so familiar with but ended up learning a lot more things than I already knew. Great bunch of young pros.
- Gopal Basu, Kolkatta
My young boys learnt so much about photography and wildlife that the dining table is full of stories and technical jargons of photography.
- Suchitra K, Kolkatta
Toehold injects a lot of interest in youngsters about photography and natural history. Wish them all the best!
- Pradeep Kenchappa, Bengaluru
Please click on any thumbnail and use the left and right arrow keys to navigate between photos in the gallery.
- DAY 1 14 November 2017, Tuesday: Departure from Puerto Williams
We assemble at a designated point, and after everyone has arrived and completed the initial formalities and introduction, we discuss the strategy for the rest of the days. We will then be sailing out on the Beagle channel.
- DAY 2 15 November, Wednesday: Heading toward Antarctica
We excitedly look forward to knowing Antarctica even more intimately than just being acquainted with the place. We will be at sea, sailing on towards this gorgeous, quiet place at one edge of the planet. The Skipper will use this time to orient you to the natural history basics and refresh some photography fundamentals to hold you in a state of eager readiness.
- DAY 3 16 November, Thursday: Landing at the South Shetland Islands
While our hearts are racing for the Tour to kick off, we take it one day at a time. We will first be landing at the South Shetland islands. Even as the weather is cloudy and humid, you will have an an opportunity to make warm memories for a lifetime when the strong westerly winds blow and embrace you.
- DAYS 4 to 12 17 to 25 November, Friday to (next) Saturday
This phase of the Tour will be even more exciting as we will be visiting some of the best areas in Antarctica for both wildlife and landscape photography, including Antarctic Sound and Deception Island.
Antarctic Sound is a water body that separates the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, the Trinity Peninsula, from the cluster of islands — Joinville Island group. Here, Hope Bay is known as an important bird area. The gentoo penguin, the brown skua, the Antarctic tern, the Wilson's storm petrel, the kelp gull and the snowy sheathbill are known to breed here.
The area is also home to one of the largest breeding colonies of Adélie penguin in Antarctica. Gentoo and Adélie penguins breed also at the Trepassey Bay, so do Cape petrels, snow petrels, skuas and kelp gulls. Weddell seals are very often found idling out on the beach and leopard seals are known to hunt offshore.
Deception Island is one of the safest harbours in Antarctica, which is now a tourist destination and scientific station, with Argentine and Spanish research bases. Here, a prominent headland called Baily Head is recognised as an important bird area as it supports a massive breeding colony of chinstrap penguins (about one lakh pairs). It also houses brown skuas, Cape petrels and snowy sheathbills.
We will then move south, towards the Lemaire Channel, which is a strait off Antarctica, located between Kiev Peninsula in Graham Land and Booth Island. The Channel is a significant part of cruising itinerary in Antarctica. It consists of steep cliffs that border the 11-km-long iceberg-filled passage.
At this time of the year, we expect areas like the Weddell sea, Lemaire Channel, Neko etc to be covered in ice, but there will be several other areas for us to explore and photograph.
The chef will serve you an exciting and varied menu every day, but flexibility with timing will be exercised if existing photo opportunities dictate that the food can wait.
Amid all this, the Skipper will strive to identify and help you capitalise on the best photo opportunities.
- DAY 13 26 November, Sunday: At Sea, Sailing towards South America, Chile
After a long adventure in the islands and exploring the glaciers and the straits in Antarctica, we will be heading back towards Chile for the unwelcome but inevitable conclusion of the Tour.
- DAY 14 27 November, Monday: Return to Puerto Williams
After hopefully having enjoyed a highly productive time on the enchanting cruise, we return to Puerto Williams. Bidding farewell to the fantastic travel and photography experience, we will be transferred to the airport, whence we fly home with experiences to cherish.
Exclusive of service tax
Exclusive of service tax
Exclusive of service tax
Frequently Asked Questions
- Who should participate in this Tour? Are there any eligibility criteria?
Anybody interested in Antarctica or general wildlife and/or wildlife, landscape or bird photography and is above the age of 18 (unless accompanied by an adult) can participate in this Tour. There are no eligibility criteria.
- I am a newbie in nature photography. Am I eligible?
Absolutely! This Tour is meant for fledgling as well as experienced photographers. Beginners get all the advantages of learning on and off the field from Toehold's eminent Skippers. In fact, if you are a newbie, you should jump on this terrific learning opportunity and sign up right away! However, in order to make the most of the Tour, we recommend that you be familiar with at least the basics of photography. Please talk to us for more details.
- I am not into photography. Would you still recommend this Tour?
Most certainly! While photographers will probably derive maximum value from this Tour, non-photographers will enjoy the expedition equally.
- How cold will it be?
The weather is variable, but the average hovers between minus five and minus fifteen during the Tour. There will be considerable wind chill. You are advised to carry requisite medication.
- What fitness level is required?
Although this is not a very physically intensive Tour, some basic amount of physical fitness is required, chiefly to withstand the cold, and to undertake short walks exploring the islets on foot. If you suffer from known illnesses, please consult your physician before signing up for the Tour.
- By what mode will photography be done on this Tour?
Photography will be done from the cruise ship and on foot when we occasionally alight on land.
- How safe is this cruise?
Your safety is of paramount importance to us and every aspect of this expedition has been designed to the highest safety standards. Our cruise ship exceeds all the SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) requirements and features state-of-the-art navigation and communication equipment. There are comfortably excess life vests, high-grade immersion suits, lifejackets and lifeboats on board the cruise. You are in very capable hands as the Tour Skipper will ensure that the group is well assisted by an expert crew who are consummate with local conditions. They will help you with the necessary instructions while you are on the Tour. Together they will constantly monitor weather conditions and take suitable decisions to ensure a safe and enjoyable Tour for everyone.
- Will you provide visa assistance?
Yes. While the Tour cost does not include visa expenses, all the assistance you require in procuring a visa will be duly provided.
- How sure are you about photographing wildlife on this Tour?
Considering the meticulous attention to timing we pay while scheduling Tours and the local expertise we leverage, we believe that it would be extremely unfortunate if our sightings and photography were unsatisfactory. However, since we will be in an uncontrolled environment, we do not claim that sightings of specific species are guaranteed.
- What equipment do you suggest on this Tour?
Antarctica is a land of beautiful landscapes, so a wide-angle lens is a must, with a fisheye lens being most welcome. For wildlife, a lens with a focal length of at least 400mm is considered necessary, with longer focal lengths being welcome. Telephoto zooms such as 70-200mm lenses can allow you to include your subject's habitat in your frame. Please talk to us for more specific advice on equipment.
- I do not own appropriate equipment. What do I do?
If you do not own adequate photography gear, there is no need to fret. Toehold offers an exhaustive array of cameras and lenses for hire, so you can always hire what you need. Click here to see what we offer. What's better, you enjoy a 10% discount on all equipment hired on our Photo Tours!
- How different are your Photo Tours from ordinary tours?
Unlike travel agents who plan your holiday from a remote destination to places they sometimes haven't experienced themselves, Toehold Photo Tours offer a comprehensive toehold to experience a place through the guidance of a professional photographer. The common ingredients in all our Photo Tours are fun and a lot of learning and knowledge sharing. Besides, most or all of our Tour participants are photography enthusiasts, which keeps the group in harmony and helps make your experience focussed.
© - All Text, Photographs, Videos and Narrations are properties of Toehold Travel & Photography Private Limited.
- Date: 14 to 27 November 2017
- Tour Cost
Twin Cabin, Shared WC-Shower:
Per person exclusive of service tax
Twin Cabin, Private WC-ShowerFULL
Per person exclusive of service tax
Triple Cabin, Shared WC-ShowerFULL
Per person exclusive of service tax
All costs excluding flights.
- Skipper: Roy Mangersnes