Antarctica is one of the world’s last frontiers, a frozen continent that remains mysterious and impenetrable in equal measures. However, despite the extreme climate and somewhat inhospitable landscape, Antarctica is a truly extraordinary place to visit, for those brave enough to try.
Adventurous travellers who make it to the icy south will find an epic white wilderness, a land of jagged mountain ranges, frozen tundras, massive sheets of ice and a remote alien weirdness that pervades everything. The experience is a genuinely incomparable one, and a visit to this remarkable, wild, bizarre continent will mean joining an incredibly exclusive club of explorers and adventurers.
So what can you expect from a holiday in Antarctica, and how do you even get there? Read on for a few hints and tips on this majestic, magnificent destination.
How to get there
While Chinese airline Hainan Airlines has offered commercial flights to the continent in the past, really the only way to fly to Antarctica is on a charter plane from Punta Arenas in Chile. For those not wanting to head to Southern Chile, or wanting to avoid a stopover in the South Shetland Islands, a cruise to Antarctica is a fantastic option. While the journey time might be a little longer, you are able to relax in comfort and style, and enjoy the on-board luxury while you gaze out over Antarctica’s stunning bleakness.
What to see
Although on the face of it Antarctica might look like a harsh, unforgiving environment (and don’t get us wrong, it certainly is!), there is a remarkable amount of wildlife to see and natural beauty to explore. There are over 235 species of marine wildlife on and around the continent, from enormous whales to tiny worms. Emperor penguins are one of the main draws, but Antarctica’s coast plays host to over 100 million birds every year, including skuas, albatrosses and terns. Elephant seals and New Zealand sea lions are a wonderful sight on land, while ten different species of whales call the southern seas their home.
As well as wildlife, there is an array of historical sights to see, largely old huts or scientific stations left behind by brave explorers. Finally, Antarctica’s real gem is its stunning landscape, filled with imposing mountains and vast sheets of ice. To stand and just watch the horizon in this unbelievably remote place can make you feel very small indeed.
Things to keep in mind
Antarctica is a delicate ecosystem, so care should be taken at all times. Avoid treading on lichen or accidentally introducing non-native species into the environment, and don’t take any souvenirs or leave any trash or waste behind. You should also pack light, and pay close attention to your own personal safety, as the continent is vast (twice the size of Australia) and very sparsely populated, so straying from the tour group can be extremely dangerous! As long as you don’t wander off on your own, however, this will be an experience that you will never forget.