A Tourist’s Guide To Antarctica

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This article is a Tourist’s Guide To Antarctica, the fifth-largest continent in the world. If you are an adventure tourist do read.

Introduction

However, the majority of cruises and tour guides will focus on the Antarctic Peninsula (the pointy bit). This is a far safer option than venturing too far inland.

The Peninsula is home to a host of different landmarks, named after hundreds of different polar explorers who tried to conquer this land before realizing that it was inhospitable, even more so in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Icebergs landscape view - Tourists guide to Antarctica
Icebergs landscape view

Adventure Tourist’s Guide To Antarctica

When Is The Best Time To Travel To Antarctica

During the Autumn and winter, the majority of Antarctica’s coastline is impenetrable due to
the thick ice and extreme temperatures that can drop below minus 60 degrees. Yes, you read that right, minus 60 degrees! Not to mention that for the 6 months of winter, the continent gets plugged into 24-hour darkness. So if you would prefer not to freeze then the best time to go is during the Antarctic summer which is from November to March. This is when you will see the wildlife at its busiest and will get to enjoy the 24-hour daylight.

One thing I would say is that the demand for cruise ships during this season is very high. There are limited numbers of them. So if you want any chance of securing a spot, you will need to book at least 12 months in advance. But, for the more popular ships such as the fly and cruise ships booking 18 months in advance wouldn’t hurt.

Recommendations – Tourist’s Guide To Antarctica

Get A Smaller Ship

When it comes to Australia, bigger does not necessarily mean better. Larger boats (over 100 people) will reduce sea sickness. So if this is something you suffer from then you may prefer one. However, a smaller boat gives you a much more personalized feeling.

You will also get the chance to have one-on-one time with the scientists and lecturers along
with access to shallower harbours. Another downside with a bigger boat is that only 100 passengers are allowed to step a foot ashore at one time so you will have to take it in turns.

On Board Lecturers

When you sign up for an outdoor adventure in a wild landscape, a lecture program may sound slightly dull. However, I assure you that the scientists share some very interesting insights about the land and creatures around you. With their help, you will be able to identify species on your own. Having some knowledge will mean you are even more amazed by the scenery and creatures.

New Zealand Subantarctic Islands

If Antarctica is considered the forgotten continent then I’m unsure how to describe these specs of land as they are the least explored part of it. The New Zealand Subantarctic Islands nurture strange megaherbs. They are a very popular spot for sea birds to rest as it is the only land for thousands of miles. Slightly further south you have Macquarie Island which shelters huge numbers of seal and penguin colonies. If you are interested in wildlife you will not be disappointed.

Zodiac Trips

The beauty of Antarctica is taken in most by the lucky individuals who are able to go on a Zodiac trip. This is when you go out on a tiny boat and are able to get up close and personal with the water, wildlife, and land. Your schedule for this will be dictated by the weather and ocean. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is simply thrilling.

Tourists on expedition in Antarctica
Tourists on expedition in Antarctica
Lemaire Channel

Cruising through the Lemaire Channel was a highlight of the trip for me. If you look up you will see the glaciers, Icebergs, and cliffs. Then if you look below you will see the giants of the sea (Humpback whales) along with Orcas. The channel can get as thin as 1600m along with loose icebergs hovering around. So, it can be dangerous to take this route. The beauty and mirror-like waters are a photographer’s paradise which earns it the nickname “Kodak Gap”.

Do read: Antarctica Travel on a Climate Change Expedition

Overrated Activities

Polar Bears

If you are interested in seeing these incredible creatures, I don’t blame you. However, you quite literally couldn’t be further away from them. They stay on the opposite side of the planet at the north pole. I know it sounds obvious, but the number of people I heard on my trip asking where all the polar bears were astounded me.

South Pole Fly-Ins

The long and treacherous journey to the South Pole, which has taken the lives of many, in our modern day this journey can be done in just a few hours. That is, for £30,000 of course. However, this expensive activity is also dangerous. This is a specially managed area which makes you think about how these flights are allowed along with flightseeing tours that take place during the day.

Warm Temperatures

Over the past few years, Antarctica has been in the news for its rising temperatures as it’s where scientists found a hole in the ozone layer. To this day Antarctica is one of the fastest warming places on earth. However, do not get confused, just because it is quickly warming does not mean it is warm. This was another thing I was astounded at when I went. It was the number of people who said to me they thought it was going to be warm because of what they saw on the news. Make no mistake people, Antarctica is freezing!

Journey To Arrive In Antarctica

Antarctica may be challenging to reach. However, the most common way to get there is to start in a small town in the southernmost part of Argentina called Ushuaia. This is the city that I flew out from and it was such a lovely place.

The easiest way to get here is to fly into Buenos Aires, which is the capital city and has an international airport that takes flights from all over the world no matter what country you live in. I flew out from London and it was a very long flight however there is no quick way to get here. Then you can fly from the capital down to Ushuaia.

Signboard of Ushuaia town in Argentina
Signboard of Ushuaia town in Argentina

Do read: Pangong Lake – Am adventure day trip from Leh

Differences In Time Of Year

Earlier I talked about the best months to visit Antarctica are November to March. However, there are micro seasons that you should be aware of.

October and November

Early summer is the awakening of this utopia. The snow and ice are plentiful. Millions of penguins return to begin their breeding season. If you are coming to Antarctica for wildlife then this is the best time of year to visit.

December and January

High summer delivers the warmest weather along with continuous daylight which leaves lot more time for exploring. This is the best time to observe fluffy penguin chicks in their nests. This is also the time that a large number of whales arrive to begin feeding along with King Penguins.

February and March

Late summer is the perfect time to visit Antarctica to see maturing penguins and seal pups. There are a lot of young animals around in this season. That is when predators are most prominent. This is also the best time for whale encounters of all kinds.

Seal image from Antarctica
Seal image

How To Choose An Antarctic Expedition – Tourist’s Guide To Antarctica

Choosing an expedition can be a hard decision. There are many different choices. Here are some important things to take into consideration before booking your trip:

Itinerary

Have a look through the itinerary of each trip beforehand. Different ones focus on different aspects of the South Pole. For example, some will focus more on wildlife. Others will focus more on the landscape. It all depends on what you are most interested in seeing.

Size and Passenger Count

It is very important to know that cruise ships are not allowed to make stops in Antarctica. In fact, any boat with over 500 people on it is not allowed to make landings. So if you want to set foot on the ice then you will need to keep this in mind.

A polar ship with 50-200 people on it can navigate through the ice much easier and make landings in a wider variety of areas. So if possible I would recommend going on a smaller boat.

Accommodation

Have a look at what level of accommodation you are wanting. For example, there are more luxurious cabins. Then there are much more basic ones. Do be aware that as in most places, the increase in comfort often correlates with an increase in price.

Reputation

It is very important that the captain and crew you choose to go with are experienced and competent. Although this place is beautiful it can be dangerous with inexperienced staff. So before you book, have a look at reviews from previous travelers to see if the company is reliable or not.

Environmental Impact

Antarctica is amazing and it is our job to protect it. So when choosing a tour company have a look to make sure they follow strict environmental guidelines. All the best cruises follow guidelines. So if a company doesn’t it could be a sign that they are untrustworthy.

Flexibility

Take into consideration how much flexibility. For example, some people like to explore on their own without someone instructing them. So if you are interested in a more hands-off approach then there are options for that.

What Company Did I Go With And Would I Recommend Them?

When I went on my trip I decided to go with Poseidon Expeditions. I couldn’t recommend them enough. Before I went I did lots of research into them beforehand and found lots of positive reviews along with many repeat passengers which was a very promising sign.

There are many different options within the company. However, I decided to go to the Antarctica Peninsula – the “realm of penguins and icebergs”. This was an incredible experience that I will never forget. Although it can be pricey, it is worth every penny.

Landscape view of Antarctica from a tourist ship - Tourist’s Guide To Antarctica
Landscape view of Antarctica from a tourist ship

Conclusion – Tourist’s Guide To Antarctica

Overall, Antarctica is like no other. If you have the finances, I would highly recommend a trip. As long as you go with the right company and pick the right style of trip you will have an amazing time. Hope this Tourist’s Guide To Antarctica helps in your planning.

The Author

My name is Jake. I am a keen traveler running my website with my brother where you can read shoe reviews. I have been traveling for the past few years. One of the most memorable places I have ever gone to is Antarctica. This was the trip of a lifetime. I hope everyone has the same experience I did.

Images provided by the author.

3 COMMENTS

  1. India, with one of the oldest cultures in the world, is a land of diverse culture, heritage, religion, caste, and creed. Its more than one billion people have descended from a variety of races, resulting in a vibrant array of fairs and festivals celebrated throughout the year. Among these, the Kumbh Mela or the Kumbh Fair stands out as one of the most important Hindu religious occasions. “Kumbh” means pitcher.

  2. Choosing an Antarctic expedition is indeed a monumental decision, and your guide offers invaluable insights for anyone considering this adventure of a lifetime. From prioritizing itinerary details that match personal interests to the importance of vessel size for better access and environmental considerations, your advice covers all critical aspects. Highlighting the significance of a reputable company like Poseidon Expeditions underscores the need for safety and experience in navigating this awe-inspiring but potentially hazardous environment. Your personal endorsement adds credibility and assurance, making it clear that the investment, both in terms of cost and experience, is worthwhile. Overall, your blog serves as an indispensable resource for anyone dreaming of exploring the breathtaking landscapes and wildlife of Antarctica responsibly and memorably.

  3. Thank you for the comprehensive guide to visiting Antarctica! Your detailed tips on the best time to travel, choosing the right expedition, and recommended activities are incredibly helpful. Highlighting the importance of smaller ships, on-board lectures, and Zodiac trips provides valuable insights for a memorable experience. Your personal experiences and practical advice make this guide an excellent resource for anyone planning an Antarctic adventure.

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