Traveling to the southernmost continent of the planet, the great, impressive, and glorious Antarctica, is the cherished dream of many. Fortunately, those days have sunk into oblivion when visiting this continent was available only to professional polar explorers and members of scientific expeditions. In the modern world, demand creates supply, and when it comes to tourism, this economic principle is doubly true.
The well-established way of life of polar explorers in Antarctica and stable transport links make it possible to successfully receive tourists in the vastness of the icy continent: settle them at polar bases, entertain with excursions on snowmobiles and helicopters, ice diving and ski trips, and even bring them to the holy of holies of the Earth – the damned and the South Pole celebrated by so many travellers. In terms of comfort, travel to Antarctica is practically in no way inferior to “warm” cruises, and in terms of saturation of impressions, they are several times superior.
Antarctica is unique as nowhere else on the planet can you find such landscapes and wildlife as in the land of icebergs and penguins. If you are highly interested in exploring Antarctica. Find out more about unforgettable traveling experiences to the most amazing and rarely visited continent. In terms of comfort, travel to Antarctica is practically in no way inferior to “warm” cruises as wind speeds of 351 kilometers per hour have been recorded on Antarctica, but in terms of saturation of impressions, they are several times superior.
Types of Travel to Antarctica
Travel to Antarctica is very diverse both in the way of travel and in duration. In general, since the continent is surrounded on all sides by the ocean, and there are no buildings on the land itself, apart from polar stations and seasonal camps, the cruise here is everything.
Onboard an expeditionary vessel converted for tourist needs, tourists will have to travel from the extreme southern city of Argentina, Ushuaia, through the Drake Passage to the Falkland and South Shetland Islands and further, skirting the Antarctic Peninsula. The travel program is extremely rich: there is little lazy contemplation of icebergs and glaciers, the main emphasis is on landing on the mainland, excursions on “zodiac” boats and overnight stays under the amazing Antarctic sky.
Travel to Antarctica can be shortened. The Drake Passage, which separates South America from Antarctica, is overcome in this case by air, which reduces travel time by as much as four days. However, this is not the best way to get enough of the Antarctic experience: the roaring strait, named after Her Majesty’s pirate, is able to give many unforgettable moments.
Travel to the hard-to-reach and fantastically picturesque East Antarctica takes place only once or twice a year. Departure point – New Zealand, tour duration – about a month. On the way, tourists are waiting for the majestic landscapes of giant ice shelves, kilometre-long icebergs and ever-troubled, crystal-clear ocean waters.
Seasonality of Travel
When planning a trip to Antarctica, remember that in the southern hemisphere, summer, and winter are the exact opposite of that we have used to. Antarctic tours are conducted in the warm season when the air temperature allows you to spend a lot of time outdoors, and in the absence of capital accommodation for tourists, this is a determining factor here. Among other things, in Antarctica, the polar night lasts for six months, and the polar day for six months, respectively, only the second is available to tourists.
The season for travelling to Antarctica aboard an expedition vessel lasts from November to March when solar activity is at its maximum and temperatures are comfortable. Travels deep into Antarctica take place in December and January, when the air temperature is at its maximum: not lower than -20 ° C in the interior.
Those wishing to conquer the southernmost continent of the Earth are offered a choice of several options for expedition routes. The most popular is an expedition-class cruise with departure from, again, the southernmost city on the planet – the capital of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, Ushuaia. A rich program awaits travellers for 7-14 days.
After crossing the raging Drake Passage between South America and Antarctica, the South Shetland Islands, famous for the richest wildlife and picturesque landscapes, will stand in the way. The route continues along the islands to the Antarctic Peninsula with regular landings filled with photo excursions, kayaking trips, overnight stays in tents under the skies of the Southern Hemisphere and observing fauna.
For those who want to “squeeze” all the most interesting out of Antarctica in a short time, it makes sense to pay attention to the combined expeditions of an airplane plus a ship. The crossing of the Drake Passage in the usual program requires about four days of the hike, while the plane overcomes it in a couple of hours and lands on King George Island. Further, the tourists will have an expeditionary program onboard the ship, which will circle the coast of Antarctica and return to King George for the further departure of travellers “to civilization.”
Well, for well-prepared travellers, both physically and financially, there are routes inland on skis. The endpoint of such travel is usually the South Pole. Depending on the route, ski crossings can range from 20 to 110 km and last from two to ten days.
Any Antarctic cruise must pass through Paradise Bay and Bransfield Strait, unofficially called “Iceberg Alley”. There you can observe slowly floating ice blocks of a wide variety of shapes and colors (up to green – algae give such a shade to the ice), visit some of them that have run aground, admire the bizarre arches and caves washed out of the ice cap tides. The whole of Antarctica is a mountainous area, which allows an unusual combination of landscape and age-old icing to create the most incredible landscapes.
The main animal attraction of Antarctica is, of course, the penguins. The most common black and white Adele babies in these places will catch your eye even on the approach to land as they often sit on drifting icebergs. And there are more of them on earth than in your hometown of sparrows as tourist routes are located near the main paths of penguins, so there is an opportunity to consider all their actions (including rolling down the mountain on your stomach, familiar from childhood, from cartoons). For more rare species of penguins, you will have to make a trip to the Ross Sea, Subantarctic Islands or South Georgia.
So, Antarctica has a unique landscape, distinctive ecosystems and is one of the wildest places in the world. It is also home to cutting edge science, unprecedented international collaboration and a growing number of tourists. Visit Antarctica to find out its characteristics and experience the impressive nature.