Going to Antarctica is surely an exciting experience. Most people have a huge issue with packing. You now have help picking items to toss in your luggage for Antarctica travel with this piece. Do not be caught off guard by the sudden shifts in weather conditions.
You must know your personal icy climate threshold level. Some can stand icier climates than others. Think about this if you will take an Antarctica vacation. Those with frigid weather issues will be interested to learn that Antarctica weather is not that fierce. People often think Antarctica is an icy location. But Antarctica is really not that bad.
What you really want to think about on an Antarctica trip is having many layers. There is no sense being warm with a single bulky coat when you can achieve the same result with light layers. Layering clothing keeps you warm by trapping heat within the garments. Silk and wool are better insulators than cotton. Take note of this when on the lookout for travel apparel.
You will need an outer shell that is windproof and waterproof. The body finds it easier to keep you warm if you remain dry and avoid getting wet. This outmost layer is what makes the entire layering system effective.
Put on thermal apparel layers before ending with slickers or jackets. Microfleece works great for this. This is a fact someone who has gone for Antarctica trips cannot deny. People not fond of fleece can keep warm by donning pants and cardigans.
Underclothes must be the heated kind to effectively warm your skin. It would be wrong to take Antarctica trips without them. Intimate thermal clothing is made of wool and polypropylene or silk. Such fabrics allow for greater heat retention near the body.
Turning to stuff people bring to Antarctica cruises. You will not get too cold if you have socks and gloves to keep warm. If it feels like you are freezing you might have heat escaping through your bare toes and fingers. Help your feet stay warm by piling on pairs of socks. Your personal taste dictates whether you pick socks that are thin or thick or a fusion of both.
Fingers that have become too cold leave a lot of people feeling down. Gloves made with fur or polypropylene is fairly popular. Your chosen gloves have to come coated with something waterproof. Misplaced or ruined mittens are easily taken care of if you have spare sets lying around.
Cruises to the Antarctic are best taken with something to cover your head like a hat. An uncovered head fails to keep most of the body heat in. You will need head toppers that provide protection for the ears and brow. Protect your neck and face from gusty Antarctic breezes by wrapping a shawl around yourself.
Think layered clothes when travelling to Antarctica. You have the best chance of staying warm this way. There is none of the putting pieces of destroyed items back together if you brought along extras. Take care of the body heat problem and you will have little to worry about during the trip.
It was the stage for the hit movie March of the Penguins. It’s home to the world-famous Falkland Islands. As the highest, windiest and coldest continent on the planet, Antarctica may seem like nothing more than a frozen wasteland. In fact, early explorers deemed it just that. Although there are no permanent human inhabitants, the wildlife residents of this landmass are nothing short of astonishing.
For those with a love of adventure, the lure of the unknown is quite a temptation. Antarctica is about one and a half times bigger than the USA. Only 2% of this continent is ice-free. From ice shelves six-feet thick to towering mountains, the shimmering landscape is essentially a desert. However, tropical temperatures should not be expected. With average summer temps of -17.5F-27.5C and average wind speeds of 23mph37kmp, trekking through Antarctica is anything but a walk on the beach.
Bundle up and prepare for one of the most outrageous adventures available!
One of the most popular destinations in Antarctica includes Deception Island, a collapsed volcano that evolved into a harbor over time. This area is filled with contradictions including geothermic pools located in an environment where the high is likely a negative temperature. As visitors arrive, they usually don bright orange or red waterproof coats. However, as quickly as they step foot on the beach, they begin to strip down to swimwear as they enter the naturally heated, outdoor pools scattered across the shore.
Lemaire Channel (often called “Kodak Gap”) offers a diverse array of photo ops. Its unique location between the cliffs of the peninsula and Booth Island give way to snow-covered mountains and icebergs of astounding height.
Paradise Harbour offers some exceptional scenery and the adventure of Zodiac Cruising. Zodiac boats take guests zipping in, out and around icebergs for a thrill you won’t soon forget.
When you’ve visited three of the four corners of the earth, it might be time to venture out on a journey to a world where animals rule. Antarctica’s rugged terrain and wide range of wildlife make it a fantastic voyage filled with enough memories to last a lifetime.
There are no mammals or birds that spend all year living on Antarctica. Penguins are the closest to permanent residents, and emperor penguins are the only animal on Earth that can survive temperatures as low as -50 °C.
Penguins are believed to have evolved from flying birds more than 40 million years ago. To live in the marine environment, they became more streamlined, developing waterproof feathers, short strong legs and webbed feet. Penguins walk upright because their legs are closer to their backs than their stomachs, which assist streamlining. Their flippers are wings that have become flat and broad, with the elbow joint and wrist nearly fused to make strong paddles.
To keep warm in the extreme cold, penguins have adapted in two ways; their physical appearance, and the way their bodies process energy.
Like all animals that live in very cold climates, penguins have large bodies and small appendages (feet, wings or flippers). By keeping feet and flippers close to the body, it is easier to keep warm. They have an amazing number of feathers (approximately ten per square centimetre), which are packed tightly together.
The physiology of a penguin has also adapted to the extreme cold. When it consumes food in winter, in converts most of the energy into keeping itself warm. However, when a penguin is a chick, it is kept warm by its parent’s body, and instead uses its energy to grow as fast as it can. As it grows older, it relies on its energy less for growing and more for warmth.
The colouration of penguins provides the perfect camouflage while they’re in the water. From above the water, predators find the penguins hard to see because they blend in with the dark depths of the ocean, and from below, predators see the penguin’s white stomach, which blends in with the surface of the sea and underside of icebergs.
Out of the water however, penguins are very conspicuous. Luckily for them, their only land predator is the leopard seal, which is deadly in the water but heavy and slow on the ice.
It is this lack of land predators that has made penguins the most successful animal species in Antarctica. There are around 24 million penguins in Antarctica and the sub Antarctic islands.
The idea of a large southern continent first appeared in the Greek writings of both Pythagoras and Aristotle. It was believed the earth would topple if a sizable landmass did not exist to balance out the northern continents. Today, we refer to that region as Antarctica.
Although Captain James Cook was the first recorded explorer to cross the Antarctic Circle in 1773, he was not the first to see Antarctica’s landmass. That acclaim would go to Russian Fabian van Bellinshausen fifty years later. Cook’s accounts of the large seal and whale populations, however, helped influence further exploration of the Southern Ocean from sealers in search of the mammals’ valued skins. In the 19th century over one thousand sealing ships traveled to the Antarctic regions and its shoreline.
In the early 20th century, reaching the South Pole became a top priority for explorers. The first expeditions to actually declare the South Pole as their primary purpose were led by Robert F. Scott in 1902, and Irishman Ernest Shackleton in 1908. Neither would reach their desired destination, but Shackleton came frustratingly close, just 97 miles from the Pole before terminating his crusade. Norwegian Roald Amundsen would be the first man to reach the South Pole in 1911.
Shackleton had failed in his quest for the South Pole, but he returned to the continent in 1914 to claim a new prize: the first crossing on foot of the Antarctic continent. With a crew of 27, they set sail in early December. A month into the expedition, their ship, Endurance, was trapped and slowly crushed by pack ice. Salvaging what supplies they could, the crew was forced to abandon the ship, and struggle to stay alive in one of the most inhospitable environments in the world. The men would endure sub-zero temperatures and starvation for nearly 20 months, with no communication to the outside world. Incredibly, not a single man would be lost. Shackleton’s journey of survival would become one of the most noted in Antarctica’s history.
Interest in Antarctica continued through the World Wars and into the Cold War. At that time, an American training facility was created to give US troops experience in polar conditions. In early spring of 1954, the first permanent scientific station was established by the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions.
No single nation controls Antarctica, nor does the continent have any nations of its own. The Antarctic Treaty governs Antarctica. Originally signed in 1961 by 12 nations (Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, French Republic, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Union of South Africa, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and United States of America) it now contains the signature of 44 countries. The treaty recognizes Antarctica’s unique position on the planet as a shared environment to be used for peaceful purposes, and international cooperative scientific research. Together, Antarctica would be used in the interests of all human progress and to better humankind.
The treaty still holds strong today. Nations from all over the world have established research stations throughout the continent, many times working together on coordinated projects. This essentially untouched and undisturbed region offers scientists many advantages over anywhere else on earth. Fields of study currently being researched include aeronomy, biology, the Greenhouse Effect, oceanography, and terrestrial life. Exploration of the continent has also inspired researchers to look toward the stars; astronomy and meteorology are two of the major disciplines currently studied.
The Antarctic Peninsula stretches out from the continent toward South America and is said to be one of the most unforgettable places on earth. The peninsula is outlined by jagged mountain tops and commanding glaciers. A favourite breeding ground for millions of seabirds, penguins and seals, it offers some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities on the continent. There are a number of places to visit on the peninsula including the Lemaire Channel, Hope Bay, Paradise Bay, and Wiencke Island, each uniquely beautiful.
Giant cliffs that drop into the sea make up the boundaries of the Lemaire Channel. Such dramatic landscape has led to the nickname “Kodak Gap,” referring to the number of photographs that have attempted to capture its beauty. Just 1600m-wide, Lemaire Channel is tightly squeezed between the mountains of Booth Island and the peninsula. Unfortunately, because it is so narrow, ice sometimes blocks the passage, forcing ships to find an alternative route. At the northern end of the channel are two, often snow-capped peaks, at Cape Renard. To the south is a scattered community of ice-covered islands.
At the northern tip of the peninsula is Hope Bay, also known as Iceberg Alley. Esperanza station was established on the bay in the 1950s by Argentina and is now the year-round home to many families, and boasts the first Antarctica-born child. The community consists of a small school, church, post office, and infirmary. A number of historic sites and museums for you to visit during your Antarctica travel, including a stone hut where members of Nordenskjold’s Swedish expedition survived a frightful Antarctic winter in 1903. The Swedish team would later give the bay its name. Over 124,000 pairs of Adelie penguins can be found at Hope Bay.
Paradise Bay is a favourite location for exploration in Zodiac crafts. Visitors weave in and out of the continent’s icebergs and glaciers that reflect in the icy waters creating a truly beautiful and unusual landscape. Seals and penguins can be found resting on the pieces of floating ice. Whales have also been spotted in the area, sometimes approaching within feet of the Zodiacs. Landings are not very common, but for many unnecessary; the tranquillity of their surroundings is more than enough for most visitors.
Along Wiencke’s west coast is Port Lockroy. The 800m-long harbor is the most popular tourist stop during Antarctica travel; nearly 6000 people visit during the summer months. An old British base has been renovated into a museum, giving visitors the opportunity to experience what life used to be like in 1950s Antarctica. There is also a gift shop and post office onsite to send a letter back home, or a photograph of the gentoo penguin that live nearby. Evidence of the whaling industry, which prevailed until the 1930s, is also found on the island. Displayed is a large fin whale skeleton. It is reassembled each summer, after the winds of the winter months blow it apart.
All cruises and journeys are different which is why sometimes it can be a little daunting to decide where to go and who to book with. This post will give you a little insight into what to expect on your Antarctic cruise whether it be a large or small ship.
Ship is the most common method of visiting the Antarctic. In the Antarctic summer, several companies offer excursions on ice strengthened vessels to the Antarctic Peninsula and Islands ranging on length and quality. The views are phenomenal, the penguins are friendly and the experience is one that is unparalleled!
When travelling by boat, be aware that smaller ships (typically carrying 50-100 passengers) can go where the big ships can’t, get you up closer to Antarctica’s nature and wildlife. Larger vessels (carrying as many as 1200 people) are less prone to rough seas but have more limited landing options. Many vessels include naturalist guided hikes, zodiac excursions and sea kayaking right from the ship, perfect for active, casual travellers.
It must also be remembered that cruise operators typically only allow 100 people on land at any one time in order to
comply with IAATO agreements. Consequently if you are in a boat with more than 200 people the chances are you will only spend a couple of hours at most per day off ship. Generally the smaller ships will try to ensure 2 different locations per day around Antarctica, although this is of course dependent on the weather.
For more information or to book your Antarctic experience, contact our Antarctic experts today!
Thinking of heading to Antarctica but wondering where to go from? This post will give you a brief destination guide to the most popular departure points within Argentina, Chile, Australia and New Zealand.
Ushuaia in Argentina is the southernmost city in the world. It is located on the shore of the Beagle Channel and
surrounded by the Martial Mounts. It is the capital of the Province of Tierra del Fuego, and Island of the South Atlantic. Its exceptional position allows one to enjoy mountains, sea and forest all in the one spot. You can fully enjoy this wonderful city all year round. In summer there is the adventure tourism: trekking, horse riding, mountain bike riding, fishing and the most incredible rides along Beagle Channel, Cape Horn and Argentine Antarctica. While in winter the snowy scenery changes Ushuaia’s appearance completely. Tierra del Fuego National Park is another great attraction in order to discover Escondido and Fagnano Lakes, and Martial Glacier.
Punta Arenas (literally in Spanish: “Sandy Point” ) is the most prominent settlement on the Strait of Magellan. The best spot to gain an introduction to Punta Arenas is the Cerro La Cruz promontory, which provides breathtaking views of the city’s orderly streets, colourful tin roofs, and the strait beyond. Among the city’s most interesting attractions are the Museo Salesiano de Mayonino Borgatello, started by an order of Italian missionaries, and the Centro Cultural Braun-Menendèz, housed in the mansion of one of the city’s most prosperous families. From Punta Arenas, it is an easy day trip to the pinguineros, the nearby penguin settlements and
the Parque Nacional Torres Del Paine, which provides the perfect introduction to Chilean Antarctica.
Bluff is a town and seaport on the southern coast of the South Island of New Zealand. The port of Bluff is the home of Bluff oysters – reputed to be the best in the world. While in Bluff you can catch a ferry to Stewart Island and Rakiura National Park, tour the aluminium smelter and get some exercise on the local walkways. One of which follows the shoreline to Green point, providing panoramic views across Bluff Harbour. At the Green point picnic area, a viewing platform overlooks the ship graveyard and identifies some of Bluff Harbour’s historic landmarks.
Visit Hobart and wander through Salamanca Place, home to artist studios, galleries and excellent restaurants. Discover the rich maritime heritage of this waterfront city or venture out of town to world-renowned destinations including Port Arthur Historic Site.
The new Antarctic season 2010/11 for taking tourists to Antarctica will begin in November, but it is not necessarily going to be the last season for big cruise ships.
Last year, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) passed a new rule banning the use or the carrying of heavy fuel oils, the type of fuel normally burned by big Antarctic cruisers, as a safeguard against fuel spillage. This new rule, aimed at protecting Antarctica’s fragile ecosystem, taking effect on 21st August, 2011, making the future of big cruise ships in Antarctica uncertain, forcing many lines either juggling how they use their fuel, or downsizing, in order to continue the lucrative business. But it might also be thar the forthcoming Antarctic summer will be the last time some lines are likely to visit the region.
According to the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) the number of passengers on “seaborne” cruises, voyages on big ships that cruise the region but don’t land anywhere, could plummet from 14,350 in 2010 to just 6,400 in 2011.
The new rule not only bans ships from using heavy fuel oil, but also from carrying it. It is often the strategy for cruise ships to burn more economical, heavy oil for long sea passages and switch to a more expensive but less polluting fuel when nearer shorelines. This will now no longer be possible.
Steve Wellmeier, executive director of IAATO, said “This will mostly affect the large vessels that we put into the ‘cruise-only’ category, the vessels carrying more tha 500 passengers where no landings are offered to those aboard. This means that companies like Holland America, Princess, Celebrity, Crystal and Regent Seven Seas will be impacted, although some of these are looking at using the lighter grade distillate fuels and complying with the ban.”
Many believe an Antarctic experience on a big cruise ship pales in comparison to what you can experience on a smaller ship. For example, the big cruise liners generally have strict boundaries to where they can and cannot cruise to. This means views of the great white continent and restricted to binoculars. However, ice strengthened small expedition ships carrying 50-100 passengers can navigate right into the channels of Antarctica and get up close and person with the wildlife and the icebergs. Daily landings on to the Antarctic Peninsula itself are also possible with the small ships but practically impossible with the larger ones making it a much richer Antarctic journey.
Whether on route to the Antarctic Peninsula or on a separate discovery cruise, you will generally pass by various islands. Some of the most famous are the Falkland Islands. These Islands are composed of an archipelago off the coast of Argentina in the Atlantic Ocean, 280 miles northeast of the Tierra del Fuego. West Falkland and East Falkland are the two main islands, bisected by the Falkland Sound, and there are a staggering 766 smaller islands that make up the territory. The total land area is relatively small, but travellers will be excited to find that the Falklands have a combined coastline that measures nearly 800 miles. Beautiful sandy white beaches reaching to the edge of clear blue waters are around almost every corner. Although there are more than 700 islands, East and west Falkland are the larger and most visited of the Islands.
East Falkland is an excellent place to begin a Falklands cruise. It boasts the highest point on the islands; Mount Usborne reaches to 2,313 feet, and is the peak in Wickham Heights, one of the two mountain ranges on the islands. The rest of the countryside on East Falkland is made up of rolling meadows and bogs, with sandstone slopes showing through. There are two deep fjords cutting through the island, leaving Lafonia in the south, which is connected by a neck of land less than a mile wide.
East Falkland is also home to the capital city of Stanley, which is also capital of the Falkland Islands. It resembles an English village, and has only about 2,000 inhabitants. Stanley used to be a busy port town, as well as rehabilitation for boats and ships that had just rounded the treacherous Cape Horn. There is an excellent Maritime History Trail around the Stanley, and a cruise to the Falklands may provide the opportunity to search some of the most astonishing shipwrecks in the world.
West Falkland is hillier than its neighbour, with the mountain range hills running through its middle. Most of the meadows on this island are dedicated to sheep pasture. In fact, there are no native trees on the islands; shrubs and grasses dominate the landscape. The picturesque rivers Warrah and Charles make their way through West Falkland. A cruise through the Falklands will reveal the gorgeous inlets and numerous bays that characterize both large islands.
Other islands worth visiting are Carcass Island, known for the gardens in Port Patterson; Beaver Island with the impressive wreckage of a French yacht; Barren and George Islands for their penguin colonies; and New and Keppel Islands for their nature reserves. The Falklands are dotted with numerous other islands for travellers looking for a quiet getaway.
When visiting Antarctica, you may pass by various points of interest on your journey. This post will give you a small guide to things to see and do whilst on your trip of a lifetime.
Long ago, volcanic pressure on Deception Island resulted in a tremendous eruption that caused the island’s peak to explode. The resulting caldera flooded with seawater, creating the unique landmass that you may visit today. Thousands of Chinstrap Penguins inhabit the volcanic slopes of the island, along with nesting Pintado Petrels and Antarctic Terns.
Nestled among the South Shetland Islands, Deception Island is easily recognized on a map by its horseshoe shape. Its collapsed volcanic caldera is breached at Neptune’s Bellows and makes for one of the world’s safest natural harbours, despite the volcano’s periodic eruptions. Ships enter the relatively calm waters of Port Forster through the caldera’s breach that is surrounded by snow-covered hills that reach 580m.
Part of what brings the tourist ships here is that the volcanic activity thermally heats the waters of Pendulum Cove and you can take a dip. It’s not deep enough for swimming and most tourists don the togs more for the photograph and the story afterwards than for breast stroking.
The Lemaire Channel is a spectacular sight with enormous sheer cliffs falling straight into the sea. This narrow waterway flows between the 3,000-foot peaks of Booth Island and the peninsula. It’s only once you’re well within it that a way through is visible. Orcas and humpback whales often accompany ships as they make their way through some of the most spectacular scenery on Earth. Unfortunately, ice can sometimes obscure the path and ships need to retreat and sail around Booth Island. At the northern end of Lemaire Channel are a pair of tall, rounded and often snow-capped peaks that are also popular with holiday snappers.
Paradise Bay, on the Antarctic Peninsula, is perhaps the most aptly named place in the world. Heavily glaciated mountains and ice cliffs surround a protected harbor. It is one of Antarctica’s most visited areas and ‘zodiac cruising’ (aboard small inflatable boats) among the icebergs that calve off the glacier at the harbor’s head has become very popular. Home to abundant populations of terns, petrels, cormorants, seals, penguins, and whales. No landings are made on these cruises, but the glaciers and mountains reflect beautifully in the water and the serene scene is a highlight for many visitors.
Passing between the soaring cliffs of the breathtaking Neumayer Channel, is one of Antarctica’s most exciting anchorages: Port Lockroy. During World War II, the British set up base here, to protect interests in the Southern Ocean and though abandoned, the base has recently been restored. Nearby you can visit a gentoo rookery and also see blue-eyed shags (cormorants) and witness sad reminders of past whaling activities.
Port Lockroy is home to the recently restored buildings of Britain’s Base A. The site is now part of the British Antarctic Heritage Trust, which maintains the station as a museum. Some visitors have the opportunity to post letters from the base.
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