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Antarctica Attractions And Landmarks Guide
Ever since Lars-Eric Lindblad built the first expedition-style cruise ship to take passengers to visit Antarctica in 1969, adventurous travelers have aspired to follow in their wake. Today about 40 vessels – mostly expedition-style vessels but some yachts as well -- make the run to the White Continent, leaving primarily from Argentina or the Falkland Islands, carrying as few as six and as many as 500 passengers.
Most of the Antarctic-bound ships, though, carry fewer than 100 passengers. Visitors go in search of the last real wilderness on earth, whose sole permanent residents are penguins, whales, seals, albatrosses and other abundant marine and bird life.
Besides the stunning array of wildlife, you’ll see glaciers, snow-covered mountains, icebergs, and, on some tours, historic sites (such as early Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton’s huts) and perhaps one of the 20 scientific research stations that have welcomed visitors since 1969.
The most common destinations on sea tours leaving from South America are the Antarctic Peninsula, the South Shetland Islands, South Georgia Island, and the Falkland Islands -- all havens for wildlife. (The latter two are not part of Antarctica.) The primary destination in Antarctica itself is the Antarctic Peninsula, which juts up from the rest of the mainland and is closest to South America.
A few icebreakers challenge the often frozen Weddell Sea in search of emperor penguins to the peninsula’s east. And some ships make the journey from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa to the Ross Sea on the other side of the continent; emperor penguin colonies are accessible from there by helicopter.
While some 100 tourist sites have seen landings in Antarctica over the years, fewer than 10 receive the bulk of the visitors. Port Lockroy, site of the British Antarctic Survey, is the most visited site, drawing more than 10,000 visitors per year. Passengers board Zodiacs (rubberized rafts) to go ashore, with most ships making one to three landings per day on the mainland.
Protecting the Ecosystem
Strict standards Antarctic tour operators must follow strict environmental protection guidelines mandated by the international Antarctic Treaty as well as the voluntary guidelines of the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO); all itineraries must be approved in advance so they don’t harm the wildlife or the fragile ecosystem.
The Antarctic tourist season runs from late October or early November to March or early April, the summer months when the waters off Antarctica are comparatively ice free. The earlier months bring penguin and elephant seal courtship rituals, while the later months see the birth of penguin chicks and seal pups. By March the adult penguins are mostly headed out to sea, but whale and seal sightings increase. December and January bring the most daylight hours, prime time for photographers.
With so many variables in itineraries, vessels, levels of luxury, price, and trip lengths to wrestle with, it makes sense to let Stride help you sort through all the possibilities. And sooner than you may think, you can experience the same wonders that have captivated polar explorers for more than a century.
Travel to Antarctica: Before you go
Warning: obvious statement ahead. It gets cold! So pack very warmly. Consider thermal undergarments, and breathable layers. Some excursions will involve being out on the water among icebergs, so also consider waterproof outer-layers. Cold can be alarmingly disorienting, so if you get cold easily, talk to your doctor about any precautionary measures or tips they recommend.
You may also want to consider any anti seasickness measures. Waters can be unpredictable, and you’ll be spending a lot of time aboard ship. Some tips to keep in mind: eat lot’s of crystallized ginger! Dramamine is also extremely effective for some. Talk with a doctor to figure out what will work best for you.
Antarctica does not have a governing body, and no permanent residents. All visitors, whether business or pleasure, are temporary. For this reason, you only need to ensure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months prior to your trip. No visa is required if you plan to stay less than 90 days.
Safety Considerations When Traveling to Antarctica
Keep in mind is that there are no public hospitals, pharmacies, or doctors offices in Antarctica. If you get sick or hurt, you will be relying on your cruise’s available resources, which while sufficient for normal ailments, will be minimal for anything extreme.
As mentioned above, be prepared for the cold and bring any anti seasick measures.
As highlighted by the CDC, you will be traveling with people from all over the world, in close quarters, and for an extended period of time. The risk of influenza, measles, and mumps is increased because of this, so especially for older travelers and children it will be important to ensure you are up to date on all these vaccines.
97 Antarctica Tour Reviews - Summary
Antarctica via Buenos Aires October 20185.0
So many highlights but getting to see penguins, seals and whales at close
quarters was unforgettable
The expedition leader and all the staff in the team were really helpful,
knowledgeable and friendly
Spend time in Argentina before or after your trip. I wish I had tagged a few
extra days on to do hhis
Operator Exodus Travels
Antarctica, Falklands and South Georgia February 20185.0
Falklands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula with landings by Zodiac
in remote bays where we experienced close encounters with the wildlife,
especially penguins and seals and whales swimming alongside the boats. The
scenery was stunning especially sailing close to the icebergs. We were
superbly looked after on the ship and the cabins and public areas were warm
and welcoming and the staff couldn't have been more helpful. The food was
excellent and plentiful and they catered well for my gluten free requirements
as I am Coeliac. The expedition staff were knowledgeable as we had experts on
penguins, ornithology, geology, whales, history, microbiology and
photography. Praise goes to the captain as a mega storm was forecast as we
were in the Falklands and we had to alter the itinerary to avoid it and
though we hit some rough seas we missed the hurricane in the Falklands where
the next 3 ships after us were stuck in the harbour there for 3 days. Ecology
was a big concern and we had to have our clothing, rucksacks examined before
each trip ashore to check there were no seeds and have them vacuumed, and
boots and trousers were hosed down after each trip ashore then we walked
There were so many, landing on a beach to be welcomed by King Penguins and 55
thousand more up the hillside as far as you could see and then they approach
you without fear, Minke whales coming under and beside the Zodiacs, Humbacks
spouting and fluking and the glorious colours and shapes of the icebergs.
Excellent, very knowledgeable and concerned for our health safety at all
times, though it was mostly a combined effort of the expedition team working
Do take some sea sickness pills, though the doctor on board always came to
the public areas and gave them out if anyone wanted them and I was not aware
of anyone suffering with sea sickness as a result. The cabins were rather
creaky and noisy at times, so light sleepers might consider ear plugs.
A fantastic trip, expensive, but worth every penny and everyone we spoke to
was full of praise for all aspects of the trip.
Operator Exodus Travels
Absolutely incredible February 20185.0
that the most is gained from the trip and no time is wasted. We cannot
recommend this experience highly enough, and would do it all again in a
The sheer majesty of the place and the overwhelming abundance of the
wildlife. Being able to get so close to penguins and seals who have no fear
of humans is a real privilege.
Inspirational and a human Duracell Bunny!
Book well in advance and as soon as possible. You won't be disappointed!
Operator Exodus Travels
Antarctica with Paul and Chris February 20185.0
Everyday you launched into zodiacs and approached the shore inspirations
Be prepared for a hard time keeping up with his energy and enthusiasm. With
Chris Packham they make a great team.
If you want a nice cosy cruise this is not for you!
Needs a warming notice. Ice and cold can get under your skin. You will want
Operator Exodus Travels
Antarctica, Falklands & South Georgia July 20175.0
world. Sheer excitement.
There was more than one inspirational moment and I couldn't choose between
standing amongst thousands and thousands of penguins and/or seals, or the
sheer beauty of the Antarctica's ice bergs floating by.
The expedition leader of this cruise - as well as his crew - was absolutely
fantastic, knowledgeable, helpful, and I couldn't imagine having a better
Just relax and enjoy and see a part of the world you have never seen before.
It was the most unique experience of all my travels. Simply unforgettable
and worth every single penny. A trip of a lifetime.
Operator Exodus Travels
- Antarctica's Weather Overview: Live Weather, Forecasts, and Averages
- There are currently no travel advisory alerts about Antarctica
- Additional Information About Antarctica
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