Antarctica Q&A

Leanne took a trip to Antarctica in December 2016 and we asked her about her awesome trip!

Q: How did seeing Antarctica change the way you’ll sell it?

A: I have a more detailed understanding of the mechanics of how operators manage an expedition to one of the most remote places on earth and can describe shipboard life and what landings are like, and what camping on the ice is like.

But the most impressive part of being in Antarctica actually can’t be described.  So what I’m talking to clients about now is how you really can’t describe or imagine what it’s like until you’ve been there.  It’s different for everyone, but the sheer scale and beauty of the environment that completely surrounds you can’t be put into words.

Q: What were your expectations and were they met?

A: I was really nervous about the Drake Passage crossing – I was expecting to be violently ill, but we were blessed with a relatively calm crossing both ways and gorgeous weather which was amazing (not that I’d ever promise that to a client!) We were aiming for the Lemaire Channel and didn’t make it due to ice conditions, but what we did instead was spectacular – we got to see emperor penguins which we never would have otherwise so that was an unexpected but sensational bonus.

It really reinforced how the itineraries are guidelines only and it doesn’t matter what you do instead, it will be amazing because it’s Antarctica!  The expedition team works really hard to make sure everyone has the best experience possible.

Q: What were your trip highlight?

A: Polar plunge – nerve-wracking but the best fun – you have to do it!  Camping, walking on fast ice, seeing emperor penguins, taking the first step on the continent, having fun with a leopard seal in our zodiac – the list goes on!

Q: Best insider insights/tips for travel


  • Polarized sunglasses are a must.
  • Take a good moisturiser – the combination of hard water onboard the ship and sanitising your hands every five minutes dries your skin like you wouldn’t believe.
  • Make sure you’ve got a neck buff or something that can cover the bottom half of your face for wind protection when zodiac cruising.
  • If you’re travelling around South America in combination with Antarctica, do it beforehand if possible. You don’t want the rest of your trip to be an anti-climax.

Leanne Flanagan Smith is an Adventure Travel Consultant at Back Track Adventures. She specialises in Antarctica and South America, but has left her footprints in hundreds of locations around the globe!  

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