Why travel to Antarctica

Lorna Griggs

30 Sep 2016

Antarctica is cold, remote, and about as far from civilisation as you can get. So why should you go? 

You should go because Antarctica is the last great wilderness

Untamed and unruly, with vast expanses of land where nobody has ever stepped foot, Antarctica has always been the final frontier for world travellers. A bucket list destination and seventh continent for most, a trip to the end of the earth comes with bragging rights for life. With towering peaks, swooping down into untouched valleys and bays, you will be in awe of this incredible destination, and as soon as you’ve been once, you’ll probably always want to return. 

You should go to Antarctica for the wildlife

Antarctica is home to seven species of penguin, with many of them breeding on the peninsula, making them easily accessible to visitors. From hours spent sitting on the beaches watching curious penguins strut along the beaches, to Zodiac rides past penguins diving from glaciers, these quirky little characters never fail to disappoint. Seals are another highlight, with six different species calling Antarctica home, from the small, adorable fur seals, to the huge intimidating male elephant seals. Most trips offer the option to kayak among the glaciers, and often, the whales too. With huge numbers of minke, fin and humpback whales, it’s not unusual to see them swimming alongside the kayaks or Zodiacs, leaving you awe struck at the sheer size of these amazing creatures. Let’s not forget the birds who will follow you on your journey, with albatrosses who will soar around the ship, and petrels, cormorants, skuas and terns who will keep your cameras clicking throughout the journey. 

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You should go to Antarctica for the history

Ever since the first known landing in 1821, explorers traversed the hills and valleys. Best known are the expeditions of Scott and Shackleton, but once you arrive in this mystical place, you’ll find history springs to life as the expedition teams teach you about whalers and seal hunters who sailed the waters of Antarctica long before anyone stepped foot on land here. Walking in the footsteps of men whose expeditions arrived on the continent with only the most basic equipment, will make you appreciate just how much travel to Antarctica has evolved over the years. If you’re lucky enough to visit one of the old explorers’ huts, you’ll probably end up with a new appreciation of modern day polar clothing and the comfortable heated ship you’ll return to. 

You should go to Antarctica because it’s a challenge

Travellers who set foot on the icy continent have earned it, usually because they’ve spent two days sailing the roughest and most notorious stretch of open ocean – the Drake Passage. 600 miles wide, even those who are lucky enough to experience the ‘Drake Lake’ (a term used by expedition crews for those days where cutlery isn’t sliding off the tables), will still probably experience the roughest seas they will ever sail through. It’s been said for decades that you have to earn your way to Antarctica, and the drake is seen as your entrance ticket. Ice and weather conditions dictate the itinerary of any trip to Antarctica, so bring a sense of adventure, and learn to travel as the old explorers did – without a fixed schedule. 

You should go to Antarctica because you’ll never be the same

From the crunch of the snow under your boots as you step onto the Antarctic Continent for the first time, to the goosebumps you feel prickling your skin as you sail past icebergs bigger than buildings. For the pale light throwing shades of pink across the horizon, and the absolute silence that takes your breath away. This is wilderness travel in its purest form, raw inspiration, and it’s guaranteed to stay with you forever. 

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