Antarctica, the coldest area on the planet, is the least explored and least understood. Thus, tourism is still developing in this region, which is mainly looked upon as a site for science and conservation. There are about five thousand peopleliving in Antarctica during summers and one thousand during the winters, with most of them being climatologists, glaciologists and ecologists.
Reaching the southernmost tip of the Earth is challenging because of the harsh climate and extreme weather conditions. However, Antarctica has lately been experiencing a steady trickle of tourists who brave lengthy flights and stormy seas to reach this region that boasts of true wildernesses. Only those with an adventurous spirit take these tours to Antarctica in order to enjoy and explore the unique wildlife and those awe-inspiring icebergs in the pristine landscapes.
Being in Antarctica is a life-changing experience as it is a unique sensation to be on a vast continent with no proper human habitation and surrounded by ice, mountains, rocks and wildlife. While there could be countless reasons to visit Antarctica, let us a look at the most compelling ones that will motivate you to visit this remote and relatively untouched part of Earth.
Extreme conditions and extraordinary landscapes
Antarctica, as the coldest, driest, and windiest place on the planet, is indeed extreme, and coming here is sure to leave you with some unforgettable memories. You can feel the complete sense of aloneness here, which can be exciting as well as challenging. Antarctica is well known for its unspoiled natural beauty and whether it is the snowy peaks of Mount Parry or the pyramid of snow and ice rising as Mount William, you will immediately feel an ethereal connection with nature and the harsh conditions here.
It is an extraordinary experience to see the ice floes that make a staggering sight and allow you to take in the vast scale of Antarctica. As you approach the continent, you will remain mesmerized by the huge icebergs and gaze down to take in those sheer sides plunging deep below the water. Keep your camera ready to capture the variety and beauty of the huge hanging glaciers and icebergs. Just listen to the cracking and popping sounds made by the creeping ice all around you.
Plenty of wildlife
With such a range of wildlife that has adapted well to extreme conditions, animal spotting is a major draw. The chances are good that, amidst the backdrop of towering icebergs and glaciers, you’ll spot seals, whales and various seabirds that thrive in this icy paradise.
Penguins are always associated with Antarctica, and these remarkable birds are quite intelligent and well-adapted to the cold climate of Antarctic regions. With their dapper appearance from a very distinctive black and white plumage, it is beautiful sight to watch them in the wild.
It is an incredibly exciting experience to spot your first whale, and in Antarctica, you can watch these marine mammals for hours, especially in February and March. This is the time when whales migrate to Antarctica to feed, and one is likely to spot Humpbacks in the sea, breaching, tail slapping and popping out of the water. If your trip takes you towards the dramatic Schollaert Channel and Paradise Bay, those are great areas to spot whales. Some other species to look out for include black-and-white orcas, the bulbous-headed sperm whales and the enormous blue whale, which is the biggest creature ever to live on the planet.
Your journey in Antarctica will most likely begin in Patagonia, and as you acclimatize to your Antarctic expedition, you are in for the most enthralling experience. Spend the days hiking and trekking along the southern side as you explore Tierra del Fuego, its forested islands and fjords, and Ushuaia, under the endless Patagonian skies and vast landscape. Take a ride on the steam-hauled train, Tren del Fin del Mundo, and enjoy delicious meals at toasty cafés and steakhouses.
Follow the greatest explorers
When in Antarctica, do not miss the chance to follow the footsteps of some of the greatest explorers of the early 20th-century expeditions, such as Robert Falcon Scott, Ernest Shackleton, Edmund Hillary and Roald Amundsen. Just imagine how they must have felt centuries ago, knowing they are among the first few to step here with no surety of returning home. The Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration boasts of daring missions and major expeditions that were not without tragedy. Those outlandish journeys demonstrate the sheer strength of the human spirit and are a true inspiration.
Aurora Australis, or the Southern Lights, are looked upon as the world’s greatest wonders, and tourists come from afar to be in Antarctica to witness the spectacular display. When compared to the Northern counterpart, Aurora Borealis, the Southern lights are much more elusive because of fewer viewing spots due to less accessible land mass. However, the Southern Lights are extremely impressive because of the breathtaking color palette of bright greens and blues as well as purples, oranges and pinks. If you’re lucky enough to witness the awe-inspiring spectacle, those memories will remain with you for a lifetime.
It’s vital, on such a trip, to carry a really good camera in order to capture the endless experiences in this majestic region. You will surely get unparalleled opportunities here in surreal landscapes dotted with unique wildlife. The reflections of the bizarrely shaped icebergs in the glassy water, the contrast of wildlife against the pristine backdrop and wind-sculpted ice floes are not to be missed. Capture the play of light on ice or record the birds skimming the waves or shoot the ice calving off a glacier – there are photographic opportunities everywhere you look.
Antarctica provides the ultimate adventure for its visitors, with its frozen raw wilderness and extreme conditions that cannot be matched. Tourists feel challenged and motivated by the extraordinary environment and of course, feel a sense of accomplishment once they make a deep connection with the icy continent.
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