Antarctica

March 09, 2009  •  Leave a Comment
Wow. A photographers paradise! I'm going back one day. Not next year and probably not even in the next 10, but one day I will.After months of deliberation I decided in the end to go and am incredibly glad I did. It was the definitive highlight of a trip which has had many of them. The whole trip was 10 days, departing and returning from Ushuaia in Southern Argentina. It takes 2.5 days to cross the Drake passage (each way) just to get to the Antarctic peninsula. That's 5 days with up to gale force winds and 3-5 meter waves...The ship was the Akademik Shokalskiy, originally a russian research icebreaker. Full capacity of 48 passengers, but we got lucky and only had 38 (which was the reason I got a great last minute deal).Each day we would have two main activities. One was to spend several hours on land, visiting penguins, sea lions, elephant seals and dozens of birds. And the other was to cruise around in small zodiacs, getting up close to whales, sea lions and icebergs.I saw dozens of whales (Humpbacks, Minkes and Orcas), at least a hundred thousand penguins and many, many other animals. One Minke was only a couple of meters from the zodiac and penguins would nibble on my boots as I was taking pictures of others.The surrounding scenery is spectacular with snow and ice covered mountains rocketing out of the seas. The icebergs and glaciers are massive.If you are going to click through and look at only one of my albums, this one should be it. With 11 days at sea there are a lot of pictures so I have created different albums depending on your interest:Best of Antarctica. 34 images, all of them great (if I may say so myself ;-)The full trip. 82 images, many of the additional 48 almost as good as the top picks.Friends and family album. 112 images, having added a few that are photographically not as great, but help tell the story of the trip.And if you haven't tried the full screen slideshow feature yet, the Best of Antarctica one would be a good place to start (use space to pause/play and arrow keys to navigate manually).

Heading south

February 16, 2009  •  Leave a Comment
This post is to rescue a couple of images that I quite like, but which are not part of a larger album. The one above is from Bariloche in Argentina and the one below from Puerto Montt in Chile. Both taken at the end of December.I am now in Ushuaia in Chile, the southernmost city in the world. Which eerily reminds me a lot of places like Narvik and Hammerfest in northern Norway...I had a fantastic time hiking in Torres del Paine, truly spectacular scenery. But my problem is that with the hike, the 4-day boat trip before it and misc other places I now have a backlog of about 2500 pictures I need to work through... And it's about to get a whole lot worse. Tomorrow I head out on an 11-day cruise to Antarctica! I have been back and forth about going there for months (to the great agony of some of my travel companions as I could never make up my mind). But I got a great last minute deal so finally decided to go for it. It still costs an arm and a leg, but hey, it's one of those once in a lifetime things :-)

Pucon & Villarica

January 31, 2009  •  Leave a Comment
After Easter Island we flew back to Santiago and took a nightbus to Pucon in the Chilean Lake District. Where among other things we hiked Villarica. It is an active volcano and continuously "farts" the most obnoxious smelling sulfur gases. And some days you can even see the molten lava at the bottom of the crater. But Villarica has not had a major eruption in decades.But it's the middle of the night here and I have to get up in a couple of hours so that's about all I'm going to say about that. Just finished uploading all the pictures so check out the full album for more.A few days later Maria headed back to San Francisco while I took a bus back down to Puerto Montt and then a 4-day ferry to Puerto Natales in Southern Patagonia (pics later). Heading out on the Torres del Paine hike first thing in the morning.

Easter Island

January 31, 2009  •  Leave a Comment
In between all the running we got to see the island in a more relaxed pace as well. And a peaceful place it is. The scenery is beautiful and the whole island just has a very special ambience to it. It was a great experience and I'm very glad I went there. Definitely one of the (many) highlights of the trip.I got the mandatory set of pictures of moai at sunset and sunrise (to the Norwegians, that's closely related to "elg i solnedgang"). And plenty of other nice shots from around the island.One night we went to a local dance performance. I am normally not a fan of the tourist shows, but this one was done very well. I have to admit I didn't expect much from an island with 3800 inhabitants (and 3000 horses), but the dancers were highly skilled. And for those of you who ever had doubts that pregnant is beautiful, here is proof otherwise:And as usual, a link to the full album.

Running Easter Island

January 22, 2009  •  Leave a Comment
After a couple of days on Easter Island my friend Maria from San Francisco met me there. She was my running buddy in SF and we often did the weekend long runs together. Before I started the trip I left my running gear with her and she brought it all the way down to Easter Island.So after a few weeks of not much but eating and drinking it was time to get back in shape. Maria seems to do half-marathons or triathlons every other weekend while I had not run in 4-5 months so I had some catching up to do... We started with a 9k on Wednesday, did a 12k trail run on Friday and then a half-marathon on Saturday. All at the crack of dawn as it was way too hot during the day to do any physical activity.Running was much harder than I remember it from 6 months ago, but it felt good to be moving again and I certainly need the exercise before my upcoming hiking trips in Patagonia.The photographers among you will notice there is something different about this album. Maria also brought down a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 compact camera that I had ordered over the holidays. It is a very nice little camera, but as one can hardly expect the quality isn't up there with the D700 (which btw I'm just getting more and more impressed with). But as the saying goes, "The best camera in the world is the one you have with you". This one I can bring everywhere and it is quite good for what it is.Click here for the full album. I have many, many more pictures from Easter Island taken with my SLR, but I have yet to process them all so they will have to wait for a future post.
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