Photographic Feature

Making Tracks to the Ends of the World

Passionate adventure traveller and photographer, Carolina Mantella, is also an experienced Expedition Operator for highly acclaimed Ice Tracks Expeditions, taking tourists to the ends of the world.

|inline||landscape|c|jpeg|caro 3.jpg||center|Where are you from originally?

I was born and brought up in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Travel and work have taken me to all seven continents, but Patagonia has become my home.

Passionate adventure traveller and photographer, Carolina Mantella, is also an experienced Expedition Operator for highly acclaimed Ice Tracks Expeditions, taking tourists to the ends of the world.

How did your interest in photographing the polar regions begin?

I was blessed to join one of the best expedition teams in my early 20s. It was only a matter of time before I got hooked on photographing the magnificent wildlife of the Arctic and Antarctic. I had the pleasure of travelling and working with brilliant wildlife photographers who inspired, taught and shared their personal experiences and knowledge with me.

What are some of the challenges and triumphs of photographing these parts of the world?

In the Arctic or Antarctic you can turn 360 degrees and find that the possibilities are endless on any given day. Getting up close and personal with wildlife is easy, effortless and safe, and the landscapes offer unlimited photographic opportunities. I am constantly inspired by the unspoiled environment.

The challenges are also great – the weather, the cold, the lack of sleep as you shoot during the midnight sun, carrying your equipment. But these are all challenges that are easily overcome. My greatest challenge is still to transmit the feeling I have when capturing an image. But I’ve also learnt that it’s equally as important to put your camera down and just soak it up for yourself sometimes.

What personal qualities do you need to cope in such extreme conditions?

If you are a passionate wildlife and outdoor lover you will have all the qualities required to travel to the polar regions. Nevertheless, preparing for extreme weather is important; not only does the equipment need protection but the photographer too. Furthermore, you need to be prepared to get there as motion sickness can be a problem for some. But, like me, when you know what awaits you on the other side then the effort to get there is well worth it!

What can one expect from a tour of these icy climes?

Nothing can really prepare you for a journey of this magnitude. Expectations are usually well exceeded and every voyage is different. The wildlife is overwhelming, not in diversity but in numbers, presence and closeness. Landscapes are just out of this world – the icebergs, snow blanketed mountains, endless sunsets turning into eternal sunrises. Expect to be taken to a different world all together – to a frozen planet – and expect to find unexpected moments of pure joy. Expect to have a soul changing journey. This is not just a photographic destination, it’s a life changing one!

Why do you think travelling to these parts of the world have increased in popularity over the years?

The polar regions have become more accessible to travellers; you don’t need to spend a huge amount of money or prepare for years to get there. More and more well-travelled people, and of course photographers, are in search of something different and special. The climate change arguments may have also added a sense of urgency, to get there before it melts forever.

What are some of the dangers of navigating these parts of the world?

The biggest danger is not paying attention to who you are booking your expedition with, what vessel is taking you there, and the level of experience and knowledge of the team looking after you when there. It’s important to do research and look for companies with good reviews that offer a personal service. The right expedition company is key – make sure it’s not just some company selling you another holiday.

What is the nature of the animals you photograph?

These animals are well adapted to an extreme environment. They are relaxed, friendly, and curious. They are fun to photograph, but you need to be patient with the wildlife and they will deliver in the most unexpected moment. We all want to photograph the ‘King of the Arctic’ (the polar bear) and we are constantly reminded who is boss. On land you wouldn’t stand a chance to get close to a polar bear but being in the water offers great opportunities to photograph this endangered animal in its icy environment.

When it comes to travel, what have you crossed off and what still remains on your personal bucket list?

Anyone with a travel bug as bad as mine knows that the bucket list never gets shorter after a journey, it just gets longer! I have personally had over 200 voyages to the polar regions in the past 13 years and I have still not crossed it off my list. My bucket list is ultimately made up of places of unspoiled wilderness – places where nature wins over development. Africa is high on my list.

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