Antarctica is a land steeped in mystery and frozen wonder. It’s the home of H.P. Lovecraft stories and the setting for the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. And for most of us, it’s a place that we’ll only visit through the medium of photos and video. But for Matt Ellis, Chugach’s Land Resource Specialist, Antarctica lost some of its mystery. It’s not a distant landscape captured in photos. For Matt, despite the continent’s frozen exterior, Antarctica is actually a warm memory that he got to share with his grandfather.

Just before Thanksgiving in 2017, Matt and his grandfather set sail from Buenos Aires, Argentina aboard the cruise ship Seabourn for a month-long trip that included a visit to the world’s 7th continent. The highlight of the trip was seven stops along the world’s most remote coastline.

For Matt’s grandfather, Antarctica represented the last continent for him to visit. With six continents under his belt, Antarctica was the only continent he had yet to step foot on. Though, by the end of the cruise, he had added continent number seven to his travels. Not only that, he and Matt did it while standing in the middle of a waddle of penguins, which is the term used to describe a group of penguins huddled together on land.

“At any given time, they were literally two feet away from us,” Matt said. “And what really blew me away was the fact that they smelled.”

Matt also had the opportunity to kayak through a raft of penguins, which is the term used to describe a group of swimming penguins. Matt and his grandfather took full advantage of their trip to the world’s least explored place. They made seven trips onto the ice sheets that encase the bottom of the world; they paddled along towering cliffs of ice and through elephant seals, penguins and icebergs; and more importantly, they captured memories together that few people will ever get to enjoy.

“If I had to use one word to describe Antarctica, it would have to be majestic,” Matt said, reflecting back on the trip. “The scale is hard to describe. We think he have glaciers and ice in Alaska, but we really don’t, at least nothing compared to what my grandfather and I experienced.”

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