There are less than two weeks until I set off on my trip to Antarctica. After my last day in the office, I now have to make the final preparations for spending over a year down South.
There are the usual tasks like deciding what to pack, getting my finances in order, and selling my car, but the hardest part is saying goodbye to friends and family.
It's a strange feeling of excitement and nervousness. Excitement because, well, I'm going to Antarctica. Nervousness because I don't know what to expect, this nervousness then feeds back into excitement as I'm keen to find out what it's like.
I'll be flying all the way down to Halley; the first leg to Cape Town where I'll have a few days to explore and wait for good weather for the flight to the Antarctic. In order to get to Halley there are two flights, first to a Russian base called Novolazarevskaya Station (Novo for short) on an Ilyushin aircraft, then from Novo to Halley on a Basler
The Ilyushin Il76 aircraft is a Russian made aircraft, designed to be a heavy lifter to get freight out to the remote depths of the USSR. It has a bit of a specialty for landing on unpaved runways, which is useful in the Antarctic but we'll be using Novo's 1200m runway some 15km south of the station. You can spot a Il75 quite easily by her shoulder wing configuration and glass nose, which I hope I can sit in during the flight and get get some photos or footage.
It'll be on the Ilyushin that we'll cross the Antarctic circle at 66º33'S, I wonder if there will be any sort of “ceremony” similar to when I crossed the Arctic circle 66º33'N during a trip to Norway.
The Basler BT-67 is also a bit unique, from what I've heard it's a converted DC3
As I'm flying down I'll be hand carrying my personal luggage, cold weather gear, and just in case I get grounded in Novo due to bad weather, a sleeping system. All travel in the Antarctic is highly weather dependent so I'm not expecting the trip to go without some sort of delay, but that just adds to the journey.
The next few weeks I'll be trying to make the most of the things I'll miss while away, including trees, fresh milk, and climbing mountains; but most of all, friends and family.