Sunday, March 02, 2008

Cape Town

As with any Antarctic journey, our final trip started early and immediately the waiting game began. With the sun well and truly hidden, the temperature at 4:00am had dropped to -25C and the plane was iced up. It didn't look much, but as the pilot neatly put it - "it's enough to kill us". Frantic scrubbing with meths got the wings clean and an hour later we look off.

The first hop took us to the South Africa station "Sanu" for fuel. Already 2 weeks into their winter, the whole base turned out the greet us and chat while the Basla guzzled Avtur .

The Balsa, ready to leave Halley

Taking off again, we flew for another 3 hours before landing smoothly on the Russian Blue Ice Runway at Novo. Novo is the centre of Antarctic air operations. Think Heathrow on ice, and you're not far wrong. We had no time to look as we rushed straight onto a waiting Soviet era cargo plane. With no window, screeching engines and the feral stench of Antarctica (boots, thermals and canvas, all heated to 25C) the 6 hour journey made easyjet seem like heaven.

Ilyushin IL-76 on the deck, Cape Town (Link)

But we made it. Back on tarmac, back to reality.

The 12 Apostles. Cape of Good Hope

Cape Town's a far better place for rehab than the Falklands. In one day I walked up Table Mountain, ate perfect steak and danced the night away to cheesey live bands. It's kindalike Dar Es Salam meets Cardiff St Mary's street. And I'm off to enjoy it all.