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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.
86 Antarctica Tour Reviews - Summary
ANTARCTICA, FALKLANDS & SOUTH GEORGIA July 20175.0
amazing time from start to finish. This holiday was beyond our expectations!
King Penguins and their chicks, so funny! Gentoo chicks laying on my
lapUp close and personal (about 8-10 feet away) from humpback whale swimming
towards us - Awesome !Abundant wildlife behaviour to watch and
photographFantastic scenery, weather and itineraryAmazing icebergsWatching
Adelie penguins stealing stones from other nests, and looking so innocent
when caught, just like on 'Frozen Planet' hilarious!Educational
presentations by the Quark staff were so informative and very
helpful, learnt so much.
Shane was brilliant and did everything he could to get us ashore, and
succeeded as we managed 21 landings and zodiac cruises. At the
briefings he was inspirational in telling us to "put down our cameras
and feel our surroundings, watch the animals, take photos with your
mind", he was so right! Shane even surprised us with a cruise
round Cape Horn (which was unexpected).
If you thought you might like to do this trip, dont think anymore, DO IT! You
will have a life changing experience. Wildlife in abundance, be on the
first zodiac out and the last one back! Don't be tempted to have
your eyes permanently stuck to the camera lens - just sit and watch it all
happen around you ! Take a tri-stool like we did and just sit
and take it all in.
The remainder of the expedition staff were amazing; Jamie, Tony, Mikolaj and
Damien were so informative, their knowledge was immense and nothing was too
much trouble for them. Angela (our shop assistant and newly qualified zodiac
driver) was great, she was our driver around icebergs and she couldn't do
enough to make our experience as enjoyable as possible; her patience,
kindness and consideration were immense. Krystle was great with her
photographic tips and Val and Solan brilliant for the kayakers. Dave and
Karin were brilliant drivers and full of fun. Last but not least, Duncan who
did so much behind the scenes and whose organisational skills
were greatly appreciated.The crew onboard the ship
were professional, friendly and helpful. If we did have a
complaint, then it would be that the food was good, but could have
been a bit warmer.
Operator Exodus Travels
ANTARCTICA, FALKLANDS & SOUTH GEORGIA July 20174.0
sea though - so an interest in sea-birds useful! South Georgia should
be a must for anyone who enjoys photographing wildlife, so the time toget
there is well worthwhile.
Gold Harbour on a sunny day with blue skies and mating elephant seals all
over the place; and Shackleton's grave
Excellent - the best we've had on 4 antarctic trips
Be on the first zodiac going to land, and one the last one back!
And take lots of sea-sickness tablets
I know it's a Quark trip - but an extra day or 2 in the Falklands would
Operator Exodus Travels
ANTARCTIC EXPLORER July 20175.0
has to be seen to be believed.
The Minke whale who decided to investigate 3 of the 5 Zodiacs a few times,
swimming right underneath them all and then surfacing really close to us on
two occasions to inspect what was happening above sea level!
Chellie was incredible. Funny, knowledgeable, obviously well respected
and well loved by her team and the Captain and his crew. She ensured
everything ran smoothly and safely. A star!
Just go - Buenos Aires is probably worth a couple of days at least if you
have the time. The trip was seamless: we went on the Sea Spirit which is a
really lovely ship. Make sure you stay on deck as long as you can, take loads
of photos, take loads of travel sickness pills - you will very probably need
them! We did, and apparently we had a calm crossing on both occasions!
Holiday experience of a lifetime.
Operator Exodus Travels
ANTARCTIC EXPLORER July 20175.0
Any description of Antarctica is always full of 'expletives'.
Quite honestly where do you start? Its awesome, pristine, 'bigger'
than you can imagine. The glaciers and the thickness of the snow cover was
simply mind boggling. Listening to the occasional 'calving' glacier
making a noise like 'gun fire' sometimes startled you as often it
happened some distance away without you actually seeing the event
itself. The clearness and crispness of the air was an absolute tonic.
The penguin colonies ('rookeries') were simply amazing. You read
about how close you can get to the wildlife there but it was quite suprising
actually how close you could get to them. They were seemingly oblivious to
the presence of man and therefore we were able to study their natural
behaviour. It was a very humbling experience indeed and you felt 'at
one' with nature, a part of the whole. Someone said to me back home
before we left 'Why go there won't a photograph of a particular
animal or bird have the same effect? Well you just have to visit a penguin
rookery or a seal haul-out to experience the unforgettable sights sounds and
oh yes -'odour' like no other and the adventure of course of actually
making landfall on the most remote and pristine continent on Earth. You
don't get that experience from photographs! It is such an exciting
feeling when you actually set foot on the continent itself.Describing a
specific inspirational moment is impossible as you have to think about the
whole picture. The landscape, the glaciers, the wildlife, the silence, the
light, the people. There is no experience quite like it on our planet. It was
one 'big adventure' from start to finish!
All the 'One Ocean' guides were good. They were
knowlegable, skillful, caring and considerate at all times. The
expedition team leader was Chad who was exceptional I have to add. His
cool, calm quiet leadership made such a difference to the trip I'm
sure. We all felt very safe in his capable hands. We have nothing but praise
too for the ship's Captain and crew. They worked efficiently,
quietly and discreetly in the background.
Most trips to the Antarctic Peninsula start at Ushuaia in Southern Patagonia.
They call it 'The end of the World' but don't be put off by
that rather deceiving descriptive! Its a city with a population of
70,000 to 80,000 people so its quite substantial. It is very much a
'frontier' town much like Jenneau in Alaska if you have been there.
It is quite vibrant and I would suggest spending a few days there before (or
even after) your cruise to explore the area such as taking a boat
trip into the Beagle Channel or a trip to the Tierra Del Fuego National Park.
Maybe the best way to do this might be to hire a car but our trips were
organised. What clothing to take with you will probably take up
much of your time in planning beforehand! But make sure you take enough base
layers with you and warm and 'waterproof' gloves. The expedition ship
we went on namely the 'Akademic Ioffe' provided waterproofs and gum
boots which you keep for the duration of the voyage and 'wash down'
after each shore visit. Do wear good footwear on deck ie- 'hiking
boots' as it can get slippy and you don't want to
be breaking any limbs when you are out there! Its even more
important to wear good footwear if you hit foul weather in the Drake Passage
and a unexpected wave can cause a sudden jolt which may cause you
to lose your balance. The golden rule then of course is 'keep one hand
for the ship'! We took warm quilted coats with us which were not
waterproof. They are fine but bulky to pack. If you have taken sufficient
base layers with you then the kit the ship supplies may be sufficient for
you. We went in January and it wasn't incredibly cold out there in fact
it was colder in the UK when we got back! Don't forget the 'sun
block' and UV protection sunglasses. Make sure you take 'plenty'
of memory cards for your cameras!
You may have thought about a trip to Antarctica for a long time. Of course
its expensive getting there and there is no getting away from that but a
voyage to this pristine white continent can be simply life changing. Savour
every moment. A trip to Antarctica will give you a better understanding of
the fragile planet upon which we all live.Remember it when you return
home and be an ambassador for this remote and fascinating continent.
Operator Exodus Travels
ANTARCTIC EXPLORER July 20174.0
the beginning. Antarctica is a very special place. Cannot be
compared to any other travel experience. So glad I went.
Would have given 5 stars but for my experiences prior to and at the beginning
of the trip.
The Penguins. Waking up after a night in the snow to see a Penguin
looking at me. Seeing a Whales head surface near our Zodiac. The
sheer pristine beauty of the place. The "blue icebergs" and
the stillness. Nature at its purest and most unspoilt. The
wonderful staff. The professional photographers and the interesting
lectures. The memory stick of the trip, including photos was
a great momento.
Kim Christie. I did not know she was on the trip until a few days
into the trip despite exchanging emails prior to the trip. Could have done
with her help in Ushuaia (see "Anything you want to add").
Wish I'd taken a hat with ear flaps and an inbetween coat.
Sometimes my triple goose down parka was a bit too warm (it can get quite
warm in the sun when worn together with the waterproof outer gear) and
my thin jacket (for the BA sun) was not warm enough for Ushuaia. The
thin inner finger gloves are very useful when taking photos. Thermals
are a must. Layers of thin polo necks best. Tee shirt OK in ship
but need warm coat for deck. No special shoes/boots required.
Rent wellington boots, waterproof jacket and trousers on ship.
Travel light. Take lots of film and extra batteries.Worst airport (BA to
Ushuaia) experience I've ever had (and I've done a lot of
travelling). Long queues. Very few of the staff speak
English. Chaos. So nearly missed flight. Met quite a few
other people who had a similar experience. Get to the airport
early. Coming back was better. Nice little airport at Ushuaia.
Did not get my final travel documents until a week before my departure
date. I had to call and ask where they were. Even then, they were
not complete. There was no separate document re "Ushuaia
joining instructions". I sent an email and got an apology and
some instructions Also, why was I not booked in at the Hotel Albatross
(the meeting point for departure to the ship) as Kim and her companion
were? I have no complaints about Hotel Las Lengas. They were very
helpful but it is a good 10-15 minutes walk to the Albatross Hotel.
Also, I was told by Kim that I could leave my bags at the Albatross
Hotel until our departure to the ship in late afternoon. Check out
at the Hotel Las Lengas was 1000. When I got to the
Albatross Hotel (around 1030) they would not let me store my luggage
there. They said they only stored luggage for people staying at
the hotel. They said they had had this problem before and had informed
the various companies before. They gave me the name of a place in the
town where I could leave my luggage. I could not find it
and ended up leaving my luggage at the Tourist Office (who were very
helpful). One more thing - I was booked into a triple cabin but
there were other single people on the ship who did not book a single cabin
but ended up in a cabin on their own. Kim was aware of this and said
she would look into it.
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
|US||N (excpetion may exist for transit countries)||Visas to Antarctica for United States citizens|
|UK||N (excpetion may exist for transit countries)||Visas to Antarctica for United Kingdom citizens|
|CA||N (excpetion may exist for transit countries)||Visas to Antarctica for Canadian citizens|
|AU||N (excpetion may exist for transit countries)||Visas to Antarctica for Australian citizens|
|NZ||N (excpetion may exist for transit countries)||Visas to Antarctica for New Zealand citizens|
|IN||Visas to Antarctica for Indian citizens|