Antarctica – terra Australis Incognita, “the unknown land of the south” – is the surreal seventh continent at the bottom of the world, a place of ethereal beauty and unequivocal grandeur that inspired the great explores of old and captures the hearts of adventures today. The limitless landscape of ice, sea, and sky comes in a million shades of blue, and jagged, snowy mountains peaks and glistening glaciers dwarf anything ever made by man. It is the ultimate, end-of-the-earth expedition, the world’s most inaccessible continent.
The nearly total absence of humans means you might be the first to leave footprints in a centuries-old snowbank, while the peaceable wildlife welcomes you into its habitat with childlike curiosity. Orca, humpback, fin, and right whales – even the giant blue whale – are known to swim right up to passing ships, while Weddell and leopard seals may stare at you from their lazy perch on floating icebergs.
But it’s penguins that draw so many travelers; to stand inside a wild, thriving rookery of tuxedoed Adelies or much larger, iconic emperors, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience: You will be outnumbered by 10,000 to one.
Trips to the warmer, animal-rich Antarctic Peninsula are the most popular; they sometimes include ports of call in the Falklands and South Georgia Island. Zodiac launches allow for quick landings on remote islands, including Deception Island, a collapsed but still active caldera where visitors take a dip in Pendulum Cove’s volcano-heated water so they can tell the folks back home that they went swimming in the Antarctic. Despite the chill, nature’s never ending show keeps you out on deck, mesmerized by this year-round winter wonderland. If you travel during December and January, the sun shines for nearly 24 hours.
Sign up for tour that offers a high number of shore landings to optimize wildlife encounter and choose a line whose ships have reinforced hulls to break through the ice. A veteran crew that includes geologists, zoologists, polar explorers, historians, ecologists, and oceanographers will help make the incredible real.
WHERE: Hobart, Tasmania (Australia) and Ushuaia, Argentina, are the most common points of embarkation.
BEST TIME: Nov – Feb (austral summer), when temperatures are a balmy 28F, late Nov – Dec for nesting penguins; Jun – Feb for baby fur seals and baby penguins.
EXPERIENCE: this through Experiential Travel Journeys. Please Call us or Email us..