It’s an understandable mistake if you think the so-called “great white continent” of Antarctica is white. True, the mountains blanketed with snow and vast icy plateaus are white – so blindingly white you squint even with Ray-Bans.
But the icebergs? Those are blue.
In “Iceberg Alley” in the Weddell Sea, colossal tabular icebergs bigger than downtown buildings are luminescent in their blueness.
There are smaller ice sculptures too, in every imaginable shape and limitless blue hues. Baby blue mushrooms and royal blue lotus flowers and popsicle blue mermaids.
Even when day turns to dusk and everything else is grey and silver, the bergs still glow with blue light.
Antarctica is often the last continent adventurous travelers visit. They go to see not only these amazing icebergs but also peppy penguins galore, breaching whales, seals and the vast, vast icy wilderness.
It requires a commitment in terms of time and stoicism. Most expedition cruises journey at least 11 nights. It takes four days from the tip of Argentina just to get to the Antarctic peninsula and back; while crossing the infamously rough Drake Passage, we popped Dramamine like candy.
But once close to the Antarctic Circle, the ice-choked waters are calm and the magic unfolds.
Roald Amundsen, Norwegian leader of the first expedition to reach the South Pole, got it right when he wrote in his diary in 1911:
“Glittering white, shining blue, raven black, in the light of the sun, the land looks like a fairy tale.”
One with many shades of blue…