Drake Passage Travel Blog

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There is not much to say about today. Mum and I had Filipino breakfast, “tapsalog” which is tapa, rice and egg. So yummy :D there was plenty of lectures to listen to. We got our expedition jacket and book about Antarctica. It was a nice jacket. There are selling it at the boat shop for $150. On the boat the prices are on NOK, Norwegian currency.  We were all hoping the Drake Passage will be smooth. It is one of the roughest crossing .


The Drake passage is a body of water. It lies between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. To the north is Cape Horn (and the South American continent, to the south of it are the South Shetland Islands which are part of Antarctica.
It is part of the Southern Ocean. It is named after the English privateer Sir Francis Drake. He never sailed the passage, because sailing the Straight of Magellan was less dangerous.


The drake passage is also the shortest route from Antarctica to the rest of the world. The only islands in the passage are the Diego Ramirez Islands, about 60 km south of Cape Horn.


The passage is also known for very rough seas. Waves of 10 m are not uncommon here.


The passage is also good for seeing Whales, Dolphins, seabirds, and penguins.


In older texts, the passage is called Drake Strait.



Biographies Expedition Team & Lecturers

Anja Erdmann �" Expedition Leader

Anja studied Tourism Management in Germany and went to Greenland for the first time in 2000.
Here she worked in Ilulissat but lived in a small village with 40 inhabitants and 200 dogs. Since then she has been employed as an Expedition Leader in the High Arctic and joined the Expedition Team in Antarctica four years ago. Anja spent also a year working as a Product Coordinator for Norway, but missed the icebergs, scenery and the fresh breeze too much so she is back on board.

Privately, she loves Simon’s English accent, extensive traveling (mainly backpacking in South and Central America) and has lived in Athens, San Francisco, and London in the past 5 years alone.


Andrew Wenzel �" Assistant Expedition Leader /Lecturer: Biology

Andrew is Canadian and resides in Vancouver British Columbia “the most beautiful city in the world” according to him. His varied naturalist, guiding and photography experience includes; nine years with the ORES Centre for Coastal Field Studies as a field director conducting whale research and photographing whales, underwater stills photographer on the T.
V. shows The Last Frontier and Danger in the Sea, tour leader in Ecuador and the Galapagos, eight seasons on small ships in Antarctica and the Arctic as a lecturer and expedition leader. Four seasons as a naturalist for Holland America in Alaska. Naturalist at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre. His photographs are sold regularly all over the world for all manner of purposes. Andrew has lots of stories about encounters with wildlife. Ask him about the time a wild whale grabbed his hand.


Steffen Biersack �" Trip Co-ordinator / Lecturer: Geology

German geologist, born and raised in Berlin, where he obtained both a Master degree in Administration Management and - later on - in Geology. Before joining Hurtigruten, he has gained a long experience as a field trip guide in many European countries, Northern America and Southern Africa.
In his opinion, geology and the complex "System Earth" is a most intriguing and important subject. So his particular aim is to convey this fascination of geology to a wider public. For this reason he is also president of the German Association for the Active Promotion of Geology (GeoLogica).


Simon Cook- Lecturer: Ornithology

Simon shares the same family name as the illustrious 18th century explorer, Captain James Cook. In addition to seeing many of the places visited by Cook, Simon has travelled extensively to all four corners of the globe. With particular interests in photography, whales and ornithology he has been to over 100 countries, been mesmerized by three-quarters of the world’s species of whales and dolphins and has seen well over 1000 species of birds from ships and boats. A passion for polar regions has taken him on ships to high northern latitudes in several different countries (Russia, Canada, Greenland and Svalbard) as well as many voyages to the icy continent of Antarctica.

He has also had numerous photographs reproduced over the years and has recently had articles published about whales in the North Atlantic and birding around the world from ships and boats. A former manager with an international bank, Simon now spends so much time at sea that he can almost be classified as a marine mammal. A great sense of adventure combined with a great deal of enthusiasm means that Simon is frequently on the lookout for wildlife. Which he is only too pleased to point out to and discuss with others!


Christian Walther �" Lecturer: Geosciences

Dr. Christian H. E. Walther was born in Berlin (Germany). He studied geophysics with geology, oceanography, meteorology, and computer science as subsidiary subjects.

His scientific career began in 1984 at an institute for polar research.
He was member of a wintering-over team at the German polar base in Antarctica and responsible for the geophysical observatory. Later he participated in one of the most extensive German land expeditions to interior Antarctica.

Back home Dr. Walther worked as a scientific employee at several institutes. He took part in expeditions to Greenland, Central and South America. Private journeys took him to Africa, North America, the Pacific region, and to Iceland. The summits of Kilimandscharo in Tanzania, Popocatépetl in Mexico, Cotopaxi and Chimborazo in Equador lay on his way.

In the mid-nineties, he started to work as a lecturer and naturalist on cruise ships. He is author of a German book about Antarctica, now 6th edition.


Rudolf Thomann - Lecturer: Botany

Was born in Santiago de Chile where he went to school.
In 1975 he left to Germany to study biology. After being in Hamburg for seven years, he wrote a thesis in applied botany studying the impact of the grazing of alpacas and lamas in the natural distribution of the native flora of the Chilean highland in Lauca National Park. With his masters degree, he returned to Chile, moved into the city of Arica and worked in the agricultural institute for almost seven years. There he began to study the highest lake of the world (Chungara) describing speciation processes in freshwater fishes belonging to the genus Orestias, the same ones of the Titicaca Lake in the Bolivian and Peruvian highland. After two years of field work, he returned to Germany to finish his PhD on this matter. Since 1990 he has been living in Santiago where he teaches ecology at two private universities and also works as consultant for environmental impact assessments.
He also runs a small hatchery of trout in the lake district of southern Chile at Lake Panguipulli. Rudolf is happily married and has two daughters.


Heiko Kuehr- Lecturer

He was born in 1968. After his study in the military in Germany he was always very close to nature. He has been hiking almost his entire live and came in contact with arctic regions in 2002 for the first time. In those days he was looking for a good possibility to do the next adventure with his dog Hondo (Siberian Husky). Finally he ended up on Svalbard as employee of a Norwegian company (Spitzbergen Travel) leading hiking tours in Spitzbergen. Those activities became more and more serious and since being certified as a Svalbard Guide he works 9 months a year in Svalbard during the summer season as Expedition Leader on MV Nordstjernen, Assistant Expedition Leader on MV Polar Star. He also leads tourists on hiking trips in Spitzbergen. During the winter season he works as a snowmobile guide going out in the field with guests on day trips and longer expeditions to discover the arctic as close as possible. With particular interests in photography he collected until now a library of more then 120GB of pictures. He sells photographs for catalogues, writes articles for dog journals and has produced a DVD with a slide show about Svalbard.

He wrote a book about hiking with dogs that is published in german (Trekking mit Hund).


Christoph Höllger �" Lecturer / History

Born in Germany, he was raised in New Zealand and Germany. He conducted his studies at different international universities, reading History, History of Art, and Theology. During that time he did research in Antarctica, doing an inventory of Scott’s Hut. Since he graduated from Oxford, Christoph has been working in tourism as a tour-guide for educational tours and occasionally as a lecturer on board cruise vessels.

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Drake Passage
photo by: xander_van_hoof