Antarctica, the last true wilderness on the planet. A vast, unspoiled continent that has been inspiring adventurers for hundreds of years. Access to parts of the Antarctic have become much easier in recent years and unlike Shackleton’s exploration, it can be done so in relevant comfort. Here’s 5 amazing regions you’re likely to visit on an Antarctic cruise.
Ushuaia & Tierra del Fuego
Ushuaia is referred to as ‘The End of the World’ and though it feels like it, it’s the starting point for almost all expeditions to the white continent. Surrounding the most southerly town in the world are snowcapped mountains and the Beagle Channel. While most people land in the town and head straight off, it’s worth taking some time to explore. Hike along the trails with local guides, go trout fishing in the lakes, horse ride and take cross country skiing tours. The Tierra del Fuego National Park is home to much wildlife and is breathtaking.
Weddell Sea & Snow Hill
The Weddell sea is a truly extraordinary place. To visit, one must travel on board an ice-breaker vessel which cuts through thick ice floes. This is a place where few have been before. Snow Hill is home to one of the only emperor penguin rookeries. Some vessels have helicopters to help you get a bird’s eye view and land nearby to walk among the colony. Here, the male penguins have survived the winter with little food while keeping the eggs of their young warm below their feet. An awesome site. Out at sea, Weddell seals can be seen basking on the chunks of floating ice or diving into the water in search of their next meal.
Many of the Antarctic expeditions visit South Georgia, a place perhaps best known as the resting place or the explorer Shackleton. What fewer know is South Georgia is one of the most awe inspiring places on the planet. Rich with wildlife, thousands of penguins can be found along the Salisbury Plain while many more Gentoo penguins and huge elephant seals take up the beach along Gold Harbour. It’s also an excellent place for seeing wandering albatrosses and fur seals. Though the waters nearby can be rough, it’s sometimes possible to visit Elephant Island where Shackleton’s crew were stranded all those years ago.
Another common stop off point on the way to the Antarctic, and for good reason. The Falkland Islands, located around 300 miles east of South America, is home to much wildlife. Similar to the windswept islands of Scotland, there are more than 200 recorded species of birds on the archipelago. Magellan and Gentoo penguins on Carcass Island, and rockhoppers, blue-eyed shags and black-browed albatrosses nest on West Point. The islands are the perfect breeding ground for elephant and fur seals who crowd the beaches.
Antarctic Peninsula and Circle
One of the most magically moments for most is the first sightings of icebergs during the approach to the Antarctic Peninsula. The huge towering monoliths of all shapes and sizes slowly float past before waterways and mountains surround the vessel from all sides. An expedition is likely to take you down Antarctic Sound (sometimes called Iceberg Alley) and through the stunning Lemaire Channel. Look out for leopard and crabeater seals basking in the soon and humpback and minke whales fluking near the ship.
The next Antarctic expedition season starts in November 2017, but the limited spaces get booked up fast. To start planning your once-in-a-lifetime cruise to the white continent, contact one of our experts at +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or send us a message.