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Lisa | Antarctica and the Dempster Highway (S2-E2)

What is like to travel to Antarctica? What is it like to travel to the Arctic Ocean?  My guest Lisa Marquart of The Hot Flash Packer blog found by traveling to both in 2019. Join me as we discuss how she did it and get tips on how we can travel to one or the other.

  • First taste of the Arctic - a trip to Churchill, Manitoba
  • Second taste was a cruise around Antarctica
  • What is a triple room? Different ways to travel to Antarctica.
  • Going to two polar regions in the same year

The Dalton Highway in Yukon and Northwest Territories, Canada

  • The Dalton Highway vs the Dempster Highway as ways to the Arctic Ocean
  • 500 miles of gravel roads
  • Camping near the Arctic Ocean
  • Stories of odd ways people reach Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk
  • Do you need spare tires to drive the Dempster?
  • Car ferries, ice bridges and why you have to time your travels correctly
  • Places you can eat or sleep
  • There is still a use for CB Radios outside of truckers
  • Wildlife on the Dempster Highway
  • The landscape (Tombstone Territorial Park)
  • Pingos in Tuktoyaktuk
  • Visitor's Center
  • Movie night and getting embedded with the culture
  • The Lost Patrol and Fort MacPherson
  • The cost of gasoline in the Yukon Territory
  • Tips for driving in such a desolate area

Antarctica and South Georgia Island

  • Late October to Mid-March travel time
  • Ways to get to Antarctica
  • Patagonia and Argentina as a launching point
  • Options on top of going to Antarctica
  • Falklands, South Georgia Island, Antarctica itinerary
  • Trips to the Antarctic Circle
  • King penguins, elephant seals, glaciers, icebergs, and Sir Ernest Shackleton
  • How to interact with wildlife at St. Andrew's Bay
  • Antarctica or South Georgia Island for a return trip?
  • Whales, zodiacs, and Antarctica
  • Things to do in Antarctica
  • The South Pole?
  • Whiskey Lore podcast research: 100 year old whiskey at Shackleton's Cape Royds Hut
  • Imagining what Shackleton's team went through stuck in Antarctica
  • Drake Passage - Drake Lake or Drake Shake
  • Things to do on-board
  • Time of the year with midnight sun and long sunsets
  • How much does it cost to go to Antarctica by cruise ship?
  • Antarctica cost vs Dempster Highway
  • Visa requirements
  • What else is included and do you need money?
  • Health insurance and evacuation insurance
  • The geographic North Pole



Lisa (00:00):
Hi, this is Lisa Mark Wet. I write at the hot flash packer.com and this is Travel Fuels Life.

Drew (00:21):
Hello everybody and welcome to Travel Fuel's Life, to show we share stories, tips and inspiration to help you live a travel lifestyle. I'm your host, drew Hamish, and do you enjoy finding very unique places to go and travel? Have you thought about going to Antarctica before? A lot of people want to go to Antarctica because they know it could be their seventh continent if they're trying to conquer all the continents. Some people want to go see the penguins. These are all valid reasons to go. Some are just looking for adventure. Well, I found somebody recently who's not only been to Antarctica this year, but they've also been to the Arctic Ocean, so they've gone both far north and far south. And so I wanted to have a chance to have her on the show and talk a little bit about her adventures and how she handled going to each place some of the logistics so we can work some of these plans out ourselves.

I've always wanted to go to the Ster Highway, so this is very fascinating for me. And my guest's name is Lisa Marwat. She has a blog called the Hot Flash Packer. She's been to 96 countries and when she was younger she got all of those Paris and Romes out of the way. And ever since then she's been traveling to some very unique places and thus the reason that Antarctica and the Arctic Ocean both show up on her radar for this particular year. So I want to get straight into this conversation and start picking her brains for some great information to help you guys figure out how to do your own travels to these two regions. So I start the conversation off by first asking her if she's ever been to either of these two regions before.

Lisa (02:12):
So actually I had been to both the Arctic and the Antarctic before. So the Arctic, I've been up to Churchill, Manitoba a few years ago. <affirmative> I took the train up. Ooh. Which was kind of a fun experience. It's right on the Hudson Bay. Got to see some polar bears saw the Northern lights on that trip and Alu Go whale. So that was kind of my first taste of the Arctic and that actually, that was quite a budget trip going in the summertime. I went up in late August, and as for the Antarctica, I also went on kind of a budget trip. So a few years ago I found a Holland America cruise that spent three days cruising Antarctica. I went all the way around the Horn of South America from Santiago to Buenos and I called up my parents, I said, Hey, do you wanna go on a cruise for Christmas and new? And they said, yeah, sure, where you wanna go? The Caribbean? I said, no, Antarctica, <laugh>. So that was my first taste of Antarctica. I didn't get to step on the continent or anywhere on the land in the Antarctic area. We did get to do shore excursions, obviously in Chile and Falkland Islands and Montevideo, but I kind of wanted to go back so I could actually say I stepped on the continent. And then South Georgia had been on my bucket list as well, so

Drew (03:45):
Very nice. Well, and so you were very familiar, well I won't say very familiar, but you had already gone through a lot of the logistics in trying to plan out a trip like that before doing this one. So you didn't have probably as many questions the second time as you did the first.

Lisa (04:04):
No, but I did quite a bit of research. There's things about Antarctica, you can do shorter trips, you can do longer trips, you can do certain activities on some of the trips. So there was quite a bit of research and I'd been watching the prices for a couple years. So yeah, finally a year and a half ago when they went on sale, I snapped up a triple room cuz those tended to be a better deal so that it's really been a year and a half in the making. But I was watching them for a couple years before that.

Drew (04:39):
Okay, and you said a triple room, what does that mean?

Lisa (04:43):
Two three beds in one room.

Drew (04:46):
Oh, okay. All right. So did you travel with somebody on this trip or did you do this on your own?

Lisa (04:53):
I was on my own. So I had two roommates that were given to me by the cruise company. Oh,

Drew (05:00):
Okay. All right, very good. Well, we'll talk a bit about Antarctica here in just a moment. And that's your most recent experience. You're actually probably still thawing from that trip, I'm guessing.

Lisa (05:10):
Yeah, I just got back about a week ago.

Drew (05:13):
So let's talk a little bit about, first of all, this concept of going to two polls or you didn't go to the polls, but you went to two Arctic regions in the same year. And so have you ever heard of somebody doing that before?

Lisa (05:27):
No. And interesting enough. So as I said, I had booked Antarctica a year and a half ago. The Arctic really wasn't on my radar this year until I had thought Alaska had been on my list. I have a van, I'm able to camp in my van. So I was just looking at, well, where can I go with two months <affirmative> if I'm driving up to Alaska? And I saw the Dalton Highway and the dumpster and I saw you could drive all the way to the Arctic Ocean. So that's when I really started to get excited about that. And it's just kind of a coincidence that they happened in the same year, but <laugh>, it really wasn't really a milestone for thing for me to say, oh, I have to do them both in the same year. It just happened that way.

Drew (06:14):
Yeah. So did you know anybody who had done the Dumpster Highway before?

Lisa (06:19):
Blogs, other blogs that I had read? Yeah, I don't think I know anyone personally that has done it. I've interesting enough, met multiple people since that trip that said, oh, I worked in book, or I worked for the oil company and I was a geologist up there, or I was guiding tours. So on my Antarctica cruise I actually met several people that had lived up there or worked up there. So it's kind of a small world

Drew (06:51):
<laugh>. Well, I guess if you're used to one Arctic region, it's not too hard to head to the other one and feel right at home.

Lisa (06:57):
Yeah, I guess so <laugh>,

Drew (07:00):
I don't know what drew my attention to the Dumpster Highway. I have a feeling there was a day when I was sitting around thinking of all the places that I could travel to going to the extremes and going to a place like the Arctic Ocean would be very interesting. So that's probably what got me looking for it. It's not something that you hear a whole lot about. So kind of describe where it goes to. Do you make it all the way to the Arctic Ocean or do you have to take alternate transportation to get the rest of the way? How does that work?

Lisa (07:35):
So I might mention a little bit about the Dalton and the dumpster and why I chose the dumpster. So I had looked at both of them. Both of them are gravel roads, <affirmative>, you're driving over 500 miles on gravel <laugh>. They both have notorious reputations about eating up your tires and having big trucks rolling by you and that sort of thing. So that kind of added to the adventure. <affirmative> the Dalton I hear has more wildlife. The dumpster has maybe more culture. Both looked like they had some very beautiful parts but it ultimately came down to what you can do at the Arctic when you get to the end. So the Dalton Highway you end in Dead Horse or Proto Bay, which is the oil company. And the oil company owns the last few miles. And so the only way you can dip your toes in the ocean is to pay $70 for a tour where they put you in a bus and they drive you and you dip your toes and you go back <laugh>.

So that was kind of the negative for me there. Whereas in the Dumpster Highway, you drive up to a village called Tuk. It's a village of about 700 people. You can drive right out to the peninsula, you can swim if you felt you wanted to. You can spend as much time up there as you want to. Just this year you used to be able to camp for free. But just this year the city has incorporated camping fees if you wanna camp up there. And so there's a few spots you can camp right on the Arctic Ocean if you chose to do so.

Drew (09:35):
Are there a lot of people up when you were there? A lot of travelers up there. And when I say a lot, I'm guessing we're talking tens, not hundreds,

Lisa (09:45):
Tens is a good way to put it. <laugh>. Yeah. But I would guess there's probably, I was up there in August probably maybe 25 to 50 people get up there a day would be my guess based on what I saw.

Drew (10:03):
Did you talk to anybody and get any stories of odd ways that they chose to get up there like walking or biking or anything?

Lisa (10:13):
Actually, so in a book is a town of over 3000 people that's the largest town up in that region. And that used to be where the road ended up until 2017 and they connected the road. So that's kind of one of the reasons a lot of people are heading up the dumpster now, cuz that road is relatively new. I met the more unusual travelers in a book and they had made it that far but weren't necessarily getting to Cuz one had taken canoe, had canoed, the McKenzie River all the way to and he had an interesting story about a real close run in with a grizzly which sounded quite scary. And then the other was a woman from Germany who had ridden bicycle from White Horse to in a book and she had decided she just had enough. And the road really wasn't very good especially, wasn't very good on that last bit up to Toto took, especially after rain, which it, August is actually quite a rainy season up there. So she was hoping to catch a ride with somebody. If I had met her a day earlier, she could have gotten a ride with me. But yeah, she had decided she wasn't gonna bicycle that last bit. So those were two of the more interesting stories. But you see a lot of these monster trucks these huge, they look like tanks, but they're RVs. I saw a number of those up on there as well.

Drew (11:50):
So somebody had told me that you need to take spare tires with you when you go. Is that true?

Lisa (11:58):
So I was a lucky one that had no flats. <affirmative> actually when I was traveling, the road was wet. I actually think there might be a difference between if you go when it's dry versus wet <affirmative>. So I think if you go when it's dry, the roads are nice and hard and you're not slipping and sliding. But I think flats are more frequent in those times. And then I traveled when it was a bit wetter and yes, I was slipping and sliding and I had a couple scary moments where my anti-lock brakes were going off. And actually two, both a bus and an RV had gone into the ditch on one of the days I was up there. But I saw nobody with a flat tire on the side of the road the whole time up and down over a six day period. But I did have a full size spare and I had a repair kit as well just in case something did happen.

Drew (12:58):
And then aren't there fairies that you have to deal with up there as well?

Lisa (13:02):
Yes. So there's only certain times of the year you can make the trip. It is a sort of a year round trip, but the fairies, there's two rivers that are quite wide and they're too wide and too expensive to build a bridge. So you can travel in summer and go by ferry or winter and they just have an ice bridge. And then there's maybe a month on either end where it's freezing up and it's too thin and or it's breaking up in the spring so you can't go in those periods as well.

Drew (13:39):
And then you've got your own van so you're able to stock up on all the stuff that you need. Cuz I'm assuming, I mean I know Fort McPherson is somewhere in the middle of that drive, but there's really not anything else along there. Is there?

Lisa (13:55):
Yeah, so you do have some facilities there. Eagle Planes is the first place to get gas and there's a small motel, even if a person weren't camping, it is possible to do the dumpster by driving because there are a couple hotels in strategic spots, <affirmative>. So like I said, Eagle Plains is a gas station restaurant and hotel. There's Fort McPherson, which is about two thirds of the way up and then in aok and Toyak took, so there's basically four places along the way where you can eat and sleep if you don't have your own sleeping facilities.

Drew (14:39):
So what do you do for cell phones? Do you have any service up there whatsoever?

Lisa (14:46):
Nope, I did not. I actually bought a CB radio and I didn't use it

Drew (14:51):
<laugh>. Wow, okay, that's good.

Lisa (14:54):
<laugh>. I didn't really have a reason that I had to use it, that knock on wood

Drew (14:59):
Breaker breaker, one night breaker breaker one night. Yeah, <laugh>. That's cool. It's good to know there's still a use for that. The outside of truckers, <laugh>

Lisa (15:10):
I suppose, wasn't a lot of traffic. There were a few trucks on it. I imagine the Dalton maybe has more trucks. I saw a handful of trucks each day, <affirmative>. There were times where I would wake up early in the morning and get on the road or drive in the evening and not see another car for an hour. So it's not a widely travel road by any means.

Drew (15:36):
So talk about wildlife. Did you see any during the entire drive?

Lisa (15:41):
Yeah, that was probably my bigger disappointment. I love wildlife. I saw a porcupine <laugh> and a couple boxes and I actually had a weird encounter with three owls one night when I was camping. But other than that I didn't see any wildlife.

Drew (16:04):
See I drove up to Newfoundland and I went all the way up to St. Anthony's. So that was a big long drive of 450 kilometers and they say there's more moose in Newfoundland than there are people. So I drove that entire drive expecting to see moose. I did not see a single one. Interesting. And then when I drove back, they were everywhere and part of me thought was it just they were blending in and I wasn't really paying close enough attention or who knows, maybe they were hiding. But talk about the landscape a little bit. I mean is it mountainous? How would you describe that area up there?

Lisa (16:47):
Yeah, sure. So the southern bit is probably the most scenic. You drive up through an area called Tombstone Territorial Park. It's one of Yukon's premier territorial parks and it's just beautiful. There's some hikes and such that a person could do there. But yeah, it's gorgeous. Further than that, you're still in deep in the trees and kind of rolling hills. Then you get up to those two rivers that you cross by ferry and you're in pretty much the flats there. So it's pretty much mostly flat and trees. And then as you get to in Avo and farther, then you're almost above the tree line. There's very few trees north of Inuk and Tuuk took it's flat with exception of, there's these hills that are called pingos, which are actually permafrost spots under the earth that create these hills. And I think it's the second largest pingo in the world is just outside of Toto took.

Drew (17:57):
Did you get to dip your toe in the water?

Lisa (18:00):
Yes, of course. <laugh>. I did not swim but I definitely dip my toes.

Drew (18:06):
How cold would you say that water is? It's pretty close to freezing

Lisa (18:10):
Probably a couple degrees above freezing <laugh>.

Drew (18:12):
Wow. And I had heard a long time ago because this trip was a little more rare, I think before this travel people now so much into travel, but in a book had a guestbook that you would sign to show that you'd made it that far. Do they still do that or is that something that, because now the road goes further, they've kind of lost a luster on that?

Lisa (18:39):
Well, there's actually a couple visitor centers up there that are one specifically in a book that I recommend. It's called the Western Arctic Visitor Center. You can actually have a certificate printed there, <affirmative> that says you've gone above the Arctic Circle and they take your name and make you a certificate. So it was quite nice.

Drew (19:02):
Nice. You needed to find somebody who had a certificate that said, I went to both arctic circles. <laugh>. Yeah. You mentioned about a little bit more culture. Did you do any excursion there or something where you got a little bit more embedded with the natives in the area or,

Lisa (19:25):
Yeah, so Avo has actually some great programs up there that they don't have a lot of sight seeing things to do per se, but those couple visitor centers in town have some programs and since I was hanging around for, I got there and I had a partial day and the day I was to head south, it had rained all night and I just knew that roads were gonna be slop. So I stuck around for another day. But they had one night, they had a movie night in the park <affirmative>. And so I watched both a documentary and a fictional film shot in Northwest Territories up actually up in Fort McPherson. So that was really interesting to see a locally made film. And then the next day they had an arts and craft thing at the visitor center and I showed up and they were making small dream catchers. So there were a couple of local people there. One teaching the class, a couple girls working and a couple people that just showed up to do free cla crafts. So it was kind of cool to talk to them and kind of learn some more about the cultures and the celebrations and just was asking a bunch of questions and so that was quite cool too.

Drew (20:50):
Very nice. Did you go down to where the grave site is for the loss patrol in Fort McPherson?

Lisa (20:58):
Yep. You

Drew (20:58):
Did? Yep.

Lisa (20:59):
I didn't do that.

Drew (21:00):
<laugh>, there's so few things along that drive probably that the same things get visited quite often.

Lisa (21:07):
Yeah, yep.

Drew (21:08):
Doing this by Van then your costs are probably quite a bit less than if you were trying to rent a van and do all of that. Did you consider that at all?

Lisa (21:22):
No, I didn't. Was on a larger two month trip up to Alaska in general, I would say the whole trip cost less than I thought it was going to <affirmative> by far. Gas is the most expensive in Yukon of anywhere. I'd traveled on that trip, but it still wasn't crazy. I wanna say it was a dollar. The most expensive was a dollar 70 Canadian for a liter. So I think that's maybe gonna come in about $5 a gallon of gas.

Drew (21:55):
So any tips for somebody who's gonna be driving that far, pack plenty of snacks and always keep the gas tank full.

Lisa (22:03):
Yeah. Know where the gas stations are fill when you can know that not everything is open at certain times. So I tried to time it so I would be getting there when I could fill up gas and have fun

Drew (22:19):
<laugh>. Okay. And there's no issues with of course if you were traveling in the winter time and trying to do this, then you gotta worry about your car freezing up and all that sort of stuff. But your temperatures were probably somewhat reasonable I would guess.

Lisa (22:34):
Yeah, I mean it got a little bit cool at night, maybe down to 40 degrees or so. <affirmative> I imagine if even if you're going in September, you can start having, well actually, now that you say that, it did snow the one the first night I went up, so I think that was August 10th. There was a light dusting of snow in the past between Yukon and Northwest Territories. So those are things to be prepared for. But for me that at the timing, the biggest challenge was the fact that it had rained and some of the times I was driving in four inches of clay, basically. Yeah. Oh wow. That's what that road is made out. <laugh> in some areas, <laugh>.

Drew (23:23):
So let's head to the south and we're going, wow. Right. So how far apart, you said you went in August to one and you went, of course you're trying to hit the, what do they call it, summertime down there? I guess trying to hit this the summer in what we call wintertime.

Lisa (23:42):
Yes. So most trips visit Antarctica between late October and I was in the Antarctica right over Thanksgiving, so late November.

Drew (23:57):
How did you go about getting down there? Cuz you can't drive your van. Well you probably could, but that's a heck of a long drive all the way through South America <laugh>.

Lisa (24:06):
Yeah so I flew the company gave me a choice though. I went with a company called Cork <affirmative> Expeditions. It's one of about a dozen or 20 companies that do trips down to Antarctica. Almost all of them go by boat. There's a couple flight options, but they're very, very expensive. So to go to the Antarctic Peninsula, most of those trips leave from UAA, Argentina, which is kind of the southernmost city of Argentina's and it's on the island of Fugo. so I actually spent about 11 days in Southern Patagonia before I did the Antarctica bit of the trip. So I flew to a town called El Kalifa. I did some things in Argentina and Chile, Torres del Pa, and then I caught the bus to oi from there.

Drew (25:05):
Well, Patagonia, that's a nice little, I would say.

Lisa (25:08):
Yeah. Yep. I've been down to South America multiple times and I hadn't seen the pictures of Torres Pay and the mountains are so jagged and beautiful down there, it's really good.

Drew (25:21):
So there are a lot of different options When doing a trip to Antarctica, which did you choose? I I always thought you just went to Antarctica. You probably went out to the little peninsula that comes out go hang around a fort for a little while and then head back home. But you actually did a little bit more of an extended trip.

Lisa (25:46):
So as I'd mentioned, I'd cruised around Antarctica before I found that was beautiful. But I had decided if I ever went back to Antarctica, I wanted to do it proper step on land. And then the other one I knew I absolutely had to do was to visit South Georgia. So the particular cruise that I did was started in uaa, spent two days in Falkland Islands, then cruised to South Georgia, spent four days there, cruised to Antarctica three and a half days, and then back to uaa. The other way you can do it is most people just do Antarctica. So they knew usua to Antarctica, spend four or five days and then go back. Additionally, there's some trips that go down to the Antarctic circle. Those are typically later in the season because of ice coverage. I did not unfortunately make it to the circle because that would've been extra days, but an extra cost obviously. So I only got to I think 64 degrees in change. I didn't make it to 66 <laugh>

Drew (26:58):

Lisa (26:58):
Yeah. So those are the main variations. So do they include South Georgia and Falin Islands or do they do the circle crossing or are they just one that does the peninsula and back?

Drew (27:11):
And so did you hear about South Georgia and what was the draw to get you there?

Lisa (27:16):
King penguins <laugh>. Ah,

Drew (27:18):

Lisa (27:19):
That was the, and then more recently, I think just the history in Shackleton is quite interesting that I think I learned so much on the cruise itself. I really had even more appreciation for the fact I did South Georgia. But South Georgia is home of many, many king penguins. If your penguin emperors are the largest, kings are just a little bit shorter than them. And in my opinion, more beautiful. They have these really sleek necks with the beautiful yellow coloring. And then all the other penguins you see are quite a bit smaller than the kings. So then you've got your gen two and chin strap and imagine and all of that.

Drew (28:08):
Well, and I've never wandered around penguins before. I mean, do you just see them from afar or do you get fairly close to

Lisa (28:16):
Them? Yeah, so we were told we are supposed to, if possible stay five meters from wildlife <affirmative>, but it's impossible <laugh>. So you get to a beach, especially in south Georgia and we went to, it's called St. Andrews Bay. There are literally half a million king penguins that live in this bay on the speech. And then add to that a few hundred elephant seals and a few hundred fur seals. So imagine you're walking around this place the while life just goes where they want to. And all three of those species just live in harmony. And so it's like because humans don't hurt them anymore. <affirmative>, they live in harmony with humans. So <laugh> you just walk around, you're walking around, they're walking around, you're not supposed to touch, like I said, supposed to stay different distance away. So if two penguins are crossing in front of you, you should stop and just wait for them to cross and then you can continue on. For example,

Drew (29:32):
If you had the chance to go back again, would you go to Antarctica or would you go to South George Island?

Lisa (29:39):
I think if I went back and could only go to one, probably I would pick South Georgia.

Drew (29:44):
Would you? Okay. Yeah. Interesting. Yeah,

Lisa (29:47):
So Antarctica by far has the big glaciers and the scene, the scenery, but the penguins are much smaller. I would say one thing that Antarctica does have for it though is whales. So if you're really into whales, Antarctica, the girl straight one evening, we were just zooming around in Zodiacs and the whales were just kind of having fun and flipping their tails. And that's the thing. So if you're really into whales, but if you really wanna see beautiful penguins the elephant seals are quite amazing. They're just huge. They're really big some really nice glaciers and really nice icebergs in South Georgia, actually the South Georgia icebergs, most of them have come from the Antarctica and they just kind of sail up there and then they get grounded and so they stay so <laugh>, you actually can see Antarctica icebergs in South Georgia.

Drew (30:52):
Wow. What other kinda activities did you do while you were in Antarctica?

Lisa (30:58):
So there were a bunch of options, but they were all starting at about $300 and up for a one or two hour experience. <affirmative> I chose not to do any of them because we were kept busy as it was. So if you don't do activities, the extra activities, you still are constantly doing something. You're either on land or you're in a zodiac driving around and looking for wildlife and zipping around and looking at scenery and that sort of thing. So they did have options. They included kayaking, standup, paddle boarding cross country skiing, mountaineering. So there were some different choices, but I personally chose not to do any of those extras.

Drew (31:47):
I take it you don't get an excursion to the South Pole?

Lisa (31:52):
No <laugh>,

Drew (31:53):

Lisa (31:54):
Are actually trips that go to the South Pole and I met somebody on the boat that had done that about a year ago ago. But yeah, that's the really big bucks

Drew (32:07):
<laugh>. Yeah. Oh well what's interesting is that I didn't know anything about sir as Shackleton and I was doing my whiskey lore podcast and trying to get some stories about some whiskey that had been buried in the ice there for a hundred years that they discovered under his cape's hut. And it got me into starting to read some of his backstory and his journey that he took where they spent 18 months on floating on ice <laugh>. Can you imagine that in any way, shape or form after being there?

Lisa (32:44):
Yeah, we saw it on some really nice, sunny, beautiful days when it was probably 35 degrees out. But yeah, we had one day that it rained a little bit <laugh> and I can't even imagine how miserable <laugh> and I was cold and my mittens were wet and I just wanted to get back on the boat and thinking about them

Drew (33:08):
<laugh>. Yeah, well

Lisa (33:10):
And I can't imagine, and this is way back in days way before there were all kinds of nice waterproof jackets and waterproof pants and nice Oh yeahs. And they maybe had wool socks and that was about it.

Drew (33:22):
<laugh>. Well and then those are some of the roughest seas in the world. So yeah. Did you experience any really rough, luckily you weren't in a 22 foot boat like he was, but no. Did you have any nights on that trip where you're like, Dramamine is just not gonna do it for me?

Lisa (33:41):
No. Once again we were really lucky we had pretty good weather and we had pretty calm sea, so we had a couple days with swells out of South Georgia but when we crossed the Drake passage there, <affirmative>, you can either have the Drake shake meaning really crazy waves or you can have the Drake Lake, which means calm. And we had the Drake Lake, so we had just basically two days of breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner and speakers all day long. We'd have about five different speakers throughout the day that the cruise ship had historians and a bird guy and a marine mammal guy. And so they had had lots of entertainment to keep us busy.

Drew (34:30):
Nice. Well did you see the Aurora Australias? Is that how it's pronounced?

Lisa (34:37):
No, because it didn't really get dark on, well it got dark in South Georgia, but once we made it to Antarctica it didn't get completely dark at night.

Drew (34:47):
Okay, yeah, cuz of the time of the year you're there and then if you'd have gone in December or January, you probably wouldn't have seen even semi dusk by that time.

Lisa (34:58):
We actually had a couple really nice sunsets and the sunsets last, I don't know how long it lasted because I didn't stay up, but it was three hours of just gorgeous pink orange skies, <laugh>.

Drew (35:13):
These are the things we just don't really think of until you get to these areas where they have to deal with darkness for such a long period of time. And then just constant light for the other part of the year. So when you're trying to budget for something like this, I've seen prices up to $16,000 to do that kind of a trip.

Lisa (35:40):
Actually think more than that really potentially. So the least expensive options typically are you're gonna be in a quad or a triple room. So a lot of the ships have those. So if you're looking at a quirk or a G adventures or there's a couple other kind of more discounting lower end you could maybe look at doing just Antarctica, maybe six or $7,000. And if you're including the South Georgia, around $12,000. I will say Quirk had a special this year where they had some leftover cabins in October and so they sold for half price. Oh nice. So if a few people went for less than that but that's not every year. That was kind of an unusual special. And if you start looking at your companies like Lin Linblad national Geographic they're looking at over $20,000 for these trips. And like I said, I'm talking the low end. So once you start talking about you're in a double room, expect to spend 40 or 50% more than the triple or the quads.

Drew (37:01):
Dumpster a little bit less expensive.

Lisa (37:05):
That whole trip I spent about a little over $3,000 in two months for everything and 1300 of that was gas <laugh>. Okay.

Drew (37:16):

Lisa (37:16):
Now was over, I put 10,700 miles on my van, so yeah. Wasn't so bad.

Drew (37:23):
So when you're traveling down to Antarctica, do you need to have any kind of special visa or just a passport good enough to get in? How does that work?

Lisa (37:35):
So Argentina, that would be your only Visa requirement. Beyond that, I don't believe any Visa requirements and it's part of it is you're going to Falkland Islands, which is part of uk, but I think they have some kind of deal where if you're staying for less than some certain period of time that you don't need a visa there either.

Drew (37:59):
And are your cruises pretty much all inclusive other than the shore excursions that you're doing? You don't have to go get food elsewhere when you're doing your shore excursions and all that, or when you're on the land?

Lisa (38:12):
Yeah, one thing I liked about Cork is it was quite all inclusive. So even when we went to Falin Islands, they gave us a choice. They said, Hey, we're providing these tours to you <affirmative>, these shore excursions were all included. And then like I said, we have on the ship every day, breakfast, lunch, dinner and it was lots and lots of food so you really didn't need snacks. They did have a 24 hour kind of coffee, hot chocolate tea station <affirmative>, and sometimes they had some little pastries set out there. But yeah, I think unless you were having a bar bill at the end of the cruise, there was no additional costs that I had involved with my grip.

Drew (39:00):
Okay. And then do you have to deal with having specific health insurance coverage and that sort of stuff for a trip like that?

Lisa (39:09):
So one important thing is to have evacuation insurance and Quirk actually includes that in the price. Okay. So they require that you have travel medical for I think 50 thou, 50,000 or more. It's kind of up to you how much more you want <affirmative> but they have an included evacuation insurance that is with that. And in hindsight that was pretty important cuz we actually did have a medical evacuation on our trip. So a woman fell and had broken an ankle in a couple spots and they had to fly a plane down to Antarctica to get her.

Drew (39:50):
Okay. Yep. All right. So then the other thing is money do, if you're gonna buy your drinks and you're gonna do that, do you just take a credit card with you or what kind of currency do they take down there?

Lisa (40:05):
So again, I think it depends on the ship. My ship, you added it to your onboard account and you paid it all by credit card at the end.

Drew (40:13):
Okay. So when you landed in, or

Lisa (40:16):
You could have paid by cash at the end? US dollars.

Drew (40:18):
Okay. So when you were in Antarctica and you were off the ship and maybe you wanted to stop off and get something to eat extra after all that other food that you'd eaten what would you spend there? How would you spend money there?

Lisa (40:34):
I don't think it would've been possible <laugh>.

Drew (40:36):

Lisa (40:36):
I mean when you get into Antarctica, there's nowhere to spend your money. So only place. So the whole trip there were gift shops in Falkland Islands and there were gift shops in South Georgia at GR. And there, you know, could buy things with credit card or they preferred cash actually. But other than that, Antarctica, there's nowhere you can even spend money, period. The ship did have a shop and so you could buy Antarctica souvenirs and cold weather gear if you had forgotten something at home. But yeah, I don't think most people spent much more money other than the price of their crews.

Drew (41:20):
Okay. Well good. So when do you go back <laugh>?

Lisa (41:26):
Yeah, I don't know. <laugh>. Yeah, work does give 5% off to returning guests and they gave us an extra little coupon if we book something in the next nine months. So <laugh>, there actually is a really interesting trip that they do that goes to the geographic North Pole, but that is a very pricey trip, so

Drew (41:52):
Very good. So where's your next trip to?

Lisa (41:55):
Surprisingly, I have nothing planned yet for this year. I certainly will do something, I don't know what yet. I am thinking about driving across, so I've done Canada from south to north and I'm thinking about now doing Canada from west to east. So I am signed up for the TBE conference in Lafayette as well. Okay. So yeah I probably will for sure do some band trips and I may get an international trip in as well.

Drew (42:28):
It, it's kind of pricey, but I actually was looking at taking the train across Canada. That would be a interesting way to travel, I think. But yeah, it can get a little pricey to try to price out a cabin, but I mean to take that train ride between Vancouver and Calgary I would think would be absolutely beautiful.

Lisa (42:53):
Yeah. Yeah. I actually just took the train last week from Seattle to Minnesota, so I like those long train trips, but I don't do the cabins. It adds quite a bit to the cost.

Drew (43:07):
Yeah. So when you drove up there, this was the one thing we really talk about with the dumpster was did you take the Alaskan Highway and how did you get to the Alaskan highway from Seattle? Cuz that's where you drove up from, correct?

Lisa (43:21):
Yeah so there's two ways to really get up to Alaska. One is kind of the Western more so it's kind of up the western side of British Columbia and that's called the Chaser. And then the Alaska Highway is sort of the traditional, the historic highway. And that comes from Fairbanks and drives down through Yukon and it kind of cuts through the northeast side of British Columbia and then ends in Dawson Creek. Yeah, I think that's the name. So I took that one back down. And then from Dawson Creek I just cut through British Columbia. I actually went over to Mount Robson in the Canadian Rockies and then down the it's that, is it the Okinawa Valley where they have all of the wineries in orchards and such?

Drew (44:16):
Yeah, I don't know. <laugh>, I need to travel in that part of Canada a little bit more I think.

Lisa (44:22):

Drew (44:23):
Tell everybody where they can. I imagine you took lots of pictures while you were on this trip and I'm not sure you've had time to post them up there yet and get your whole stories out there. But if somebody wants to follow, see all those places that you've been and see some of your Antarctic experiences and Arctic experiences, where can they follow you?

Lisa (44:44):
Yeah, so on Instagram I amt Flash packer, it's just the letter T F L A S H P A C K E R, no spaces, no hyphens, anything. And then my blog is the hot flash packer.com. And again, no spaces, underscores anything. And I have all of the information on the Dumpster Highway on my blog already and I'll be putting Antarctica there soon.

Drew (45:14):
All right, excellent. Well, I thank you so much for taking the time today and you're in Minnesota, which normally I would think Minnesota at this time of year, you'd be pretty chilly, but after where you've been, I'm guessing that it's pretty standard fair at this point.

Lisa (45:31):
It's colder today than it was in any of the days in Antarctica. Was

Drew (45:35):
It really? Say that <laugh>. Nice. All right, well thanks so much for coming on the show and it's been a pleasure speaking with you.

Lisa (45:43):
Yeah, thank you.

Drew (45:46):
Well, I hope you enjoyed today's episode, and if you want to get those show notes, go out to travel fuels life.com/podcasts. Look for episode number two in season two. And if you can't get enough of Antarctica, then head out to Whiskey Lore on your podcast app and look for episode number seven, which is available right now. And episode number eight will be coming just after Christmas. This is all about Sir Ernest Shackleton and his journeys to Antarctica. And I have an episode that is completely dedicated to the harrowing trip that he took through the Drake passage, the same one that Lisa mentioned, except he wasn't having any kind of Lake Drake, he was having Shake Drake for sure. So check that out and we'll talk about his 18 months when he was stranded on an ice flow with his crew in the Antarctic. And it's an incredible story of leadership and sheer human will to survive, and I think you're really gonna enjoy that. So look for whiskey lore on your podcast app to hear that story. And coming up in two weeks, we're gonna start the new year off the calendar New year with some more travel inspiration for you. So I'm looking forward to bringing that to you and hope you have a safe and happy new year. And until next time, safe travels and thanks for listening to Travel Fuels Live.


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