While a trip to the Antarctic sits high in most travellers’ bucket lists, there is more to do than look at icebergs and spot penguins. Leave from Ushuaia, in southern Argentina, on an adventurous cruise. There are many extra things to do, from sea kayaking to helicopter rides. You can’t expect to do all these on one cruise. If any take your fancy, be sure to ask your Antarctic expert what is available before you book.
Sea kayaking through Antarctic waterways
Imagine boarding sea kayaks and floating along the waterways in the Antarctic peninsula. Paddle calm waters, beside icebergs, from which little Gentoo penguins jump off as you pass. You may also spot leopard seals basking on little ice floes. Most vessels have a limited number of kayaks, so it’s worth booking ahead to take part in this activity.
Brave the polar plunge
Dine out for months with tales of swimming in the sub-zero waters of the Antarctic. It might sound insane to throw yourself into cold ocean, it is safe and very refreshing with the help of expert guides. Are you brave enough to take the polar plunge? If not, wait until you visit a place where volcanic activity warms up the water (see Deception Island below).
Camp on the white continent
Become one of the few brave explorers to camp on the ice shelf of the Antarctic. Not every cruise offers this, so check before booking. You’ll leave from the boat onto the ice in the late afternoon. Reach a campsite which will have already been set up for you. Whilst you enjoy a hot drink in your cosy tent, you’ll enjoy complete silence broken only by the call of penguins.
Board zodiacs to spot wildlife
All expedition tour activities involve inflatable zodiac tours. Speed around the icy bays, whilst the guide spots seals, waddling penguins and magnificent whales. You’ll often be able to disembark on the white continent to get up close to some of the fascinating wildlife. Sometimes whales or orcas arrive to take a look at you.
Send a letter from Port Lockroy
Did you know that you can send a letter or postcard from the Antarctic? If you visit Port Lockroy, you can get stamps and postmarked envelopes. The resident staff are on hand to explain about the British research. There is a small historical museum to browse. Other nationalities bases also sell stamps, like the Ukrainian one.
Take a helicopter to an emperor penguin rookery
Those with (very) deep pockets can join one of the exclusive helicopter flights to Snow Hill to see the huge rookery of emperor penguins. The 4,000-strong colony of breeding penguins are a magnificent sight, as are the aerial views of the icy wilderness from the helicopter. This is only available from one of our expedition cruises, so get in touch to book a place!
Cruise through the Lemaire Channel
One of the most beautiful places in the Antarctic Peninsula is the Lemaire Channel. It’s one of the top places for photographers who line up on deck. Characterized by steep cliffs flanking the iceberg-filled waterway, it’s truly spectacular. If the weather is calm the reflections are stunning. Not to be missed.
Cross the Drake Passage
To reach the white continent involves a 48-hour crossing of the Drake Passage. It can often be choppy, or calm as a lake. The excitement builds as you spot your first iceberg as the Antarctic approaches. For some passengers it is the most exciting part. You can watch the many seabirds from the deck, or listen to the fascinating lectures presented by expert polar guides. There are cruises which fly over this stretch of ocean from Chile, but these are for those short on time and deep of pocket.
Watch fluking whales
There are few places in the world quite as magical as the Antarctic when you see a huge whale gently fluke out of the water. Many species can be seen in these waters both baleen and toothed whales. You are likely to have several sightings during an expedition cruise, though nothing beats seeing one close from the zodiac boats.
Soak in Deception Island’s hot springs
Believe it or not, Deception Island in the Antarctic has natural hot springs. Strip down and jump into the steamy waters which looks over the calm bay around the island. Most people just swim right out into the sea, but it’s also possible to dig down into the soil and create your own natural jacuzzi pool. The perfect way to finish your Antarctic expedition.
To start planning your cruise in the Antarctic, call one of our travel experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here.