When you think of Antarctica, it may seem long stretches of snow and ice and water and monotony. It may seem to most people that there is no point in visiting the white lands of the sole continent in the world devoid of human interference (almost). But that is not the case at all. This southernmost continent archipelago is as interesting as any other continent in the world in its own way. Today, we are going to talk about some of the places in the continent you have to visit if a chance to visit Antarctica ever comes your way (do not ever think of missing out on the opportunity!).
The land of snow at the southernmost part of the world is a polar desert which is twice the size of Australia. If you set sail from South America, the closest land with human population and the starting point of journey for Antarctica you have to pass through the treacherous waters of Drake Passage. Generally it takes two days to wade through the windy and uneven sea and cruises make a stop at some island in the middle of the journey. Though nowadays, people prefer to reach Antarctica in a fly-cruise to avoid the physical excursion of the sea ride.
Plunged in darkness for the entire winter and with almost constant sunlight for the entirety of summer months, Antarctica is the most untouched as well as formidable beauty lying on the face of this earth. Delight your heart by witnessing the soft first light of the sunrise from behind the icy cliffs and large glaciers. Entertain yourself when you see a penguin comically waddling through the ice towards you and circling your feet. You can also scoop one up in your hands if you’re quick enough. Warm your heart by watching the seals flapping about the shore of the ocean or albatrosses launching themselves off cliffs.
The best time to visit the isolated continent is from November to March. In other times the humongous size of icebergs in the ocean makes passing of a ship absolutely impossible. The 20-hour sunshine during December-January is a welcome relief for the few residents as well as visitors as it brings much-needed warmth in the valley of frost. It is also the time right after the mating season, so you get to see penguin chicks and seal pups. During this time you get to see adult seals going to hunt and bringing food for their newborns and those chasing after the parents for food.
Places you must go While in Antarctica
- For anyone visiting Antarctica with a fly-cruise the South Shetland Islands is the first place to visit. This group of islands which resides around 75 miles from the Antarctica peninsula is the base to a number of national research institutions. Explorers have known about the place since the 17-th century, there is even evidence of native South American people having been on the island on occasions. Though weather is unpredictable in this section of the continent even in temperate summer months, but the stark nature of the terrain with number of penguins and seals visible over the stretch of the island is Mother Nature offering pure bliss.
- The Drake Passage Tour is one of the most treacherous water roads there is around the world. Because of its position on the globe rough seas with waves as high as 30 feet is not uncommon in this area. This passage is the reason people while visiting Antarctica prefers to choose a fly-cruise than face the deep rolling in the sea and fall sick.
- The South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands are not common destinations you will find on the itineraries of every tourist. This is a predominantly secluded place and the only passage to this island is through the seas where some cruise ships as well as private yachts can be seen. Navigation through these plains is not an easy task and should only be done with someone who is familiar with the terrain.
- Though it comes with a foreboding name, but Deception Island is one of the safest harbors in Antarctica which was previously used by whalers and seal hunters and now has gained popularity as a tourist destination. While there, you can go up to the lookout point on the beach known as Neptune’s Bellows and if you’re a good swimmer then by all means jump into the lukewarm waters for the badge of honor known as the ultimate cold-water swim.
- When you reach the Port Lockroy Tours you have to send yourself a stamped post card from Antarctica first thing. The island has been a military base in the 1990s and presently serves as a base of research in the continent including the affects of human visitation in the continent.
Some of the other important areas where you must go while you’re in Antarctica are Falkland Islands which, at first sight, will look strange to you with its very British red telephone booths and chip shops in the middle of a snow desert; when you reach Ross Sea you’ll witness a cluster of wild life with elephant seals and rock hopper penguins roaming about while sea birds nesting in the towering cliffs manning the island.
It’s not only about roaming around in the ice covered islands; there are a lot of options for water and ice sports as well. You can go for kayaking, diving, snowshoeing across the frozen lands and for those who likes to live on the edge camping on the tip of the continent.
P.S- Always go for inflatable zodiac boats whenever you go around. It is the safest option with unpredictable size and amount of icebergs strewn all over the ocean.