Have you ever thought about traveling to Antarctica? If the answer is yes, then continue reading and you will learn more about the White Continent. But, if you aren’t sure, if it’s worth doing, and why would someone do that, then this is for you as well. Because in this article, which is written by our fellow Latvian blogger and traveler Zane Enina (her blog in Latvian), you will also find and answer to this question – why go to Antarctica?
Can you visit Antarctica like a tourist? Yes.
To be honest, before 2015 I didn’t even know, that it’s relatively easy to go there. I had heard about some people going there on a trip, but I thought, that it costs tens of thousands of dollars and you need some permits. Then I read about Zane’s experience, and it opened my eyes. While it still is a costly adventure, it isn’t that crazy expensive. Ok, enough from me. Enter Zane!
Traveling to Antarctica: Practical Information
Let’s start with a little bit of practical information about traveling to Antarctica.
How to get to Antarctica? There are several options how you can get to the white continent – Antarctica. Probably, the most common choice is to get on one of the ships which leaves from Ushuaia, Southernmost city of Argentina and South America.
It’s not a cheap ride.
Even an 11 day trip costs around 7000 USD . But there are always some last minute deals out there. So if you will get to Ushuaia first and you have a little bit of patience, you will definitely find one. Or, search for the deals online to be 100% sure, that you are going to Antarctica.
It is possible to reach Antarctica only at summer time. In the southern hemisphere it lasts from September till April. During the winter Antarctica is surrounded by ice completely and then it becomes a place “where no ships go”.
All you need (besides money) is some warm cloth – gloves, scarf, hat and waterproof pants. A warm jacket and boots will be provided on the ship, so no worries about that. It is also not as cold as you might think. Most of the days the temperature is about 5 – 10 degrees Celsius below zero, but of course it depends on the month you go.
There is also no need for physical training – since all activities are adjusted to different difficulty level and you can choose the ones you feel most comfortable with.
I went to Antarctica in 2015. Here I must say big thanks to my amazing blog readers, who sponsored this trip to Antarctica. Until now it has been the most impressive travel experience I have ever had. Now let’s speak about why you should go to Antarctica. So, here are 10 good reasons to visit the White continent.
Why Go to Antarctica?
1) Because You Can Go to Antarctica!
“Are you a scientist? “, people sometimes ask me after getting to know I’ve been in Antarctica. No! And you don’t have to be a polar scientist or explorer to go there nowadays. Every person can do it.
2) To Experience Incredible Whiteness and Vastness
You know that Antarctica is a place mostly made of ice, you kind of understand it. But when you see these ice hills huge as skyscrapers, stare at numerous glaciers and when you “walk those fields of snow”, emotions are indescribable.
3) To Touch an Iceberg
It is nice to touch a small iceberg, passing by it in a small rubber boat called zodiac, or with your lips when it melts in your glass of whiskey. And it is a bit scary to touch it with a hull of the ship when it’s struggling going through an area, where there are a lot of those ice creatures.
If you are lucky enough to sail through the Lemaire Channel, iceberg-filled passage, you can observe icebergs floating only few meters from the ship. And their colors, shapes, ornaments,… all of it gives you an impression that they have passed a serious competition to be chosen to participate at the world’s most beautiful sculpture exhibition.
4) To Interact with Penguins and Other Birds
Wildlife is one of the top reasons to visit this remote part of the world.
I came for the penguins; they are very special creatures for me. And I’m not the only one. There is some magic hidden into those curios, a bit funny and very beautiful SEA BIRDS.
During our Antarctica cruise we met 7 species of them: Gentoo, Macaroni, Adeli, Chinstrap, Rockhopers, Magelanic and Kings. Our trip included also a visit of South Georgia island where the biggest colonies of King Penguins can be found. It’s kind of magic to see those majestic birds at the sunrise. And you can never imagine what kind choir it can be, a colony consisting of a 150 000 pairs of a king’s (there is a smell as well, don’t forget about that!).
I’m not a “bird person” (penguins are exception), but if you are, there are many flying objects to observe. You can see nesting albatrosses really close and flying albatrosses as well. When someone with a wing spread over 3 meters passes over your head, it is something special.
5) To Run Away from a Seal
Those lovely, cute animals, with wildly open, naive eyes – when you see a picture of a seal, you want to pet it. When you meet him in real life you want to run away. And you should!
They are called sea dogs and there is a good reason behind. Most of them will try to scare you and some will even attack if you will passing by in a distance, that makes them feel endangered. So don’t go where the seals are, you would say.
Ok! But in the most of the places it’s impossible – they are everywhere in Antarctica! Time after time you can spot seals also on icebergs, and in the water, coming and playing around the boat (and biting it as well). And sometimes there are so many of them in the water, that you feel like in a seal soup.
6) To See a Whale’s Tale
And sometimes a little bit more than only a tale.
There is just so much life in the water! After some time you learn to distinguish wales by the form of their blow or tale. You see killer whales or orcas (orca whales) competing with your ship, to see who is faster – the boat or a whale. Dolphins are jumping around. It’s hard to describe, how magical it is.
Though, the best sights can be experienced when kayaking. Going silently on the surface of water, and watching everything from even closer distance. That’s an additional service you can choose, when taking a ship to Antarctica.
7) To Learn About the History of This Special Place, by Seeing It and Learning from the Mistakes of the Past
Despite of the remoteness, Antarctica has many stories to tell about the ones who were first trying to get to know this White place. Some of them end with success and some with a silence. But all of them are full of incredible courage, struggle for the survival and for the next step ahead. And sometimes about the patience – when all you can do is wait for a rescue, that can come or maybe not.
Elephant Island. Remains of Swedish explorer’s Larsen hut – you can stand next to it and imagine for a while, how it would feel, if there would not be a ship waiting for you few hundred meters from the coastline.
Abandoned or turned into museum whaling stations on South Georgia island tell the stories about the time mankind made a lot of mistakes, which whales still remember. And because of that never swim at the bays of this island.
8) To Take a Polar Plunge in Antarctica
Yes, if you are brave enough, you can take a polar plunge.
Water temperature in Antarctica is close to 0 degrees Celsius (32 F). But doctor of the ship will give you 40-degree Vodka after the swim. To try to compensate the cold, haha. Of course, safety first – to avoid the risk of drowning, you will be secured with a rope.
9) To Meet Incredibly Professional and Experienced Expedition Staff and to Hear Their Stories
On the expedition ships there are bird, sea mammal, geology, history and other experts ready to share their knowledge with you.
We were lucky to be on the last trip of legendary Laury Dexter, who has crossed Arctic on the skies, run world’s hardest marathons, climbed highest peaks and done lots of other incredible things! And it’s not just about him. All of them, with whom we met, are amazing personalities with really lots of stories to tell.
10) Meet Other Crazy Fellow Travelers and Have a Lot of Fun on the Ship As Well!
Last but not least – your fellow travelers.
If you are on this ship it almost automatically means you are a bit crazy. Ok, special. No, better – interesting! You really can’t make friends with all 100 passengers but you wish you could – everyone here is so special. The ones you manage to establish friendship with – it doesn’t end on the ship. It’s forever.
Let’s go to Antarctica?
Author: Kaspars Misins
Kaspars is a long term traveler and a travel blogger from Latvia. He loves going on long walks, reading non fiction books and spending time outdoors. Together with his girlfriend Una they have been traveling – volunteering – working abroad since 2013. On We Are From Latvia they share their experience and things learned along the way.