Antarctica remained cut off from all other continents for many years, and as such remains one of the last great unconquered regions of the world. Now, thanks to a range of tours and cruise options, the beauty of this fascinating area is more accessible than ever before making this remote land a desirable destination for wildlife lovers, adventure travel fans and holiday-makers alike.
So what is it that makes this remote continent so captivating? From glaciers to penguins and from historical remains to rocky futures, here are five top reasons to pay a visit to this unmissable land, along with some top tips for anyone planning an Antarctica trip.
The landscape in Antarctica offers some of the most adverse yet beautiful scenery in the world, and stretches far above and below sea level. A trip to Antarctica gives visitors an opportunity to sail and walk through a mesmerising wilderness of ice and snow. With its stunning array of icebergs, glaciers, volcanic rock and hot springs, visitors can experience a spectacular range of scenery and landscapes, the likes of which few people are lucky enough to witness.
Despite its stark landscape, Antarctica is home to a huge range of incredible wildlife, which is fascinating when viewed in its home habitat. There are seven species of Antarctic Penguins, including the mighty Emperor penguin and the cute Chinstrap penguin, which wander around the landscape in their hundreds and despite little experience of humans, are not shy around visitors.
For whale lovers there at least eight species of whale that are commonly found in the Antarctic waters, including Blue whales, Sperm whales and Killer whales.
There are also six species of seal and around 45 species of birds, making Antarctica a truly valuable area for wildlife fans of all ages.
A trip to Antarctica gives you the opportunity to experience first-hand the conditions and terrain that was tackled by the first Antarctic explorers. Famous explorers include the likes of Shackleton, Mawson, Amundsen and Scott, just to name a few. Some never made it home from their trips to reach the South Pole, but with comfortable ships, warm clothing and good tour guides, visitors today face a far easier journey than the explorers of the early 1900s. Still, there are many artefacts remaining from previous inhabitants of the island, including abandoned whaling stations and the remains of scientific research centres, which can still be explored by visitors today.
A trip to Antarctica also takes a firm spot on many people’s ‘bucket list’, as a visit here is not only a great opportunity to witness nature at its wildest, but is also a rare and remarkable experience that is guaranteed to create unforgettable experiences for life. You will be able to capture images and memories that can be shared with friends and families for years to come. Also, a trip to this incredible continent gives visitors the opportunity to have set foot on every continent in the world – an experience that very few travellers can claim.
Antarctica’s future is unsure and as a result of threats from environmental issues such as global warming, visitors may not be permitted to witness this beautiful place forever. Take the opportunity to experience this incredible continent while you can and enjoy experiencing Antarctica before it is too radically altered.
Top tips for visiting Antarctica:
· Antarctica is a photographer’s dream, so don’t forget your camera and equipment. This is a once in a lifetime trip, so perhaps consider taking a photography course and investing in a top-end camera before you go – you’ll want to capture each amazing experience
· The best time to visit is between November and March. Birds are nesting early in the season, and penguin chicks start to hatch from December onwards. For travellers in the later months of the season, seal and whales are often spotted as they return to feed
· The areas of Antarctica that can be visited aren’t as cold as the more central regions, but you still need to wrap up warm, so make sure you have all the necessary gear. Take a wind-proof and water-proof jacket, a fleece, waterproof trousers and thermal underwear, gloves and hat
· Prepare for a touch of seasickness – even the most sturdy stomachs can fall prey to the infamous Drake’s Passage, which can take over 24 hours to cross and is a rocky stretch. Consider investing in some seasickness pills or wristbands to save you any discomfort. Don’t worry – things will be much calmer once you’ve reached the continent
· G Adventures offers a range of well-priced Antarctica cruises on their ship MS Expedition, leaving from Ushuaia in Argentina. Their tours to the icy continent include features such as Zodiac excursions, camping and kayaking. See their website www.gadventures.com for more information