Do you enjoy getting off the beaten path? It doesn’t get any more out there than Antarctica. Surreal icy landscapes and modern comfort go hand in hand on a voyage to Antarctica, one of the world’s last true frontiers. Icy crags jut out of mirror-like seawaters, while Zodiac excursions ferry you through otherworldly landscapes to get up close and personal with soaring seabirds and frolicking seals. This once-in-a-lifetime destination puts you in the footsteps of legendary explorers like Cook and Amundsen on an adventure all your ow...
Do you dare to face one of the world’s most legendary bodies of water? The Drake Passage tests even the hardiest seafarer, positioned between the South Shetland Islands and Cape Horn. High winds and unique currents can cause choppy conditions called the Drake Shake, although you may luck out and get the stillness of the Drake Lake! Either way, you could spot incredible wildlife including albatross and whales.
The touring season in Antarctica covers the summer months from November to March. Don’t expect to pull out your sun lounger though - temperatures will still hover around freezing during this time! The best month for you to visit will depend on what you’re keen to see. November brings the penguin courtship rituals and pristine, thick icy landscapes dotted with curious seals. Penguin chicks begin to break out of their shells in late December, bringing the peak travel period in January and February. These are the warmest months, making them perfect for visiting penguin colonies and embarking on whale watching expeditions, while March’s receding ice allows you to venture further south.
A journey to the Antarctic peninsula gives you the chance to see iconic sights like seals, whales, icebergs and penguins. Cruise itineraries often include a stop at the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, where you can visit the grave of Ernest Shackleton. You might get a spooky trip to an abandoned whaling station at Port Foster, and even have the chance to swim in Antarctic waters due to the unique geothermal activity at Deception Island! Cruise through the imposing vertical cliffs of Le Maire Chanel, and visit the working British base at Port Lockroy with its resident Gentoo penguins. From shipwrecks in Wilhelmina Bay to jaw-dropping hanging glaciers, every moment brings new inspiration.
There’s no need for a passport, let alone a visa, when you’re visiting Antarctica! This peaceful continent is jointly managed by the 44 countries involved in the Antarctic Treaty, with its pristine wilderness used only for scientific research and limited tourism. However, you may need a visa for your cruise for the country of departure, so check in with your cruise operator for advice. Antarctica voyages depart from Australia, South Africa, Chile and Argentina, with flyover sightseeing journeys departing from Australia as well.
Antarctica’s climate is cold, windy, and dry – not exactly the ideal conditions for growing fresh produce or experimenting in the kitchen! IAATO regulations prohibit visitors from taking outside food onto the continent. Research and expedition bases have experimented with using hydroponic systems to grow fresh greens, but generally you can expect your cruise ship to carry everything needed for western-style meals. These may carry a regional slant if departing from Argentina or Chile, like empanadas and plenty of freshly caught seafood. And with the fast pace of expedition travel, chances are good that you’ll be working up a hearty appetite.
Sage, Kilcullen, 26 April 14
It was then full steam ahead for our main destination and I must say waking up to the unforgettable scenery of Antarctica the morning we arrived will remain with me always - it was just magical.
Barber, Hindon, 09th March 14
We were greeted by literally thousands of Megallenic Penguins, Skuas and Upland geese - even one lone King Penguin. This was an amazing day to say the least! And we pretty much walked among them.