The coolest destination on Earth, literally, Antarctica is the last great wilderness. A place free of anything man-made, this natural beauty must be discovered before it's precious polar ecosystem and wildlife are endangered and lost forever. The 5th largest continent, only about one percent of the total landmass is visible and by far the most unexplored area by mankind. Antarctic encompasses the whole area south of 60°, which is comprised of islands, sea and ice shelves. A journey to the South Pole promises a land of extremes only the most adaptive travelers can handle.
Two of the 17 species of penguins solely reside in the White Continent, the Emperor Penguins and the Adelie Penguins and like their regal name; these tuxedoed gentlemen rule the country with their goofy mating rituals and silly antics. With up to 250,000 of them gathering in one breeding area, there is no shortage of non-feathered friends to observe.
Whether you want to admire the ice formations from afar or scale them, grab your crampons and an ice pick and get mountaineering. Ice in the Arctic and Antarctic is thicker, taller, heavier and older than anywhere else on Earth and the billowing statues change so much you will never encounter the same design twice. But don’t be fooled, even with all the ice and frozen tundra, Antarctica is still classified as a desert climate.
Under the Sea
Often overlooked, Antarctica's undersea is an environment even more amazing than what resides on the surface. Described by oceanographers as a “"riot of life," species exist in the depths of the Antarctic Ocean that exist nowhere else on earth. Researchers discovered new kinds of crabs, an albino octopus, and alien fish species.
At least ten species of whales, six species of seals and three breeds of dolphins have been spotted in the Antarctic Ocean. These whales include humpback (the most common), minke, right, blue, sei, finback, orca, pilot, sperm, and southern bottle-nosed. The largest mammals on the planet, catch these magnificent creatures as they travel alone or in pods.
A mud map is an old Australian saying which means unexplored and uncharted territory. Back in the day, early explorers used to draw directions and compasses in the dirt to provide guidance to other travelers. While you won’t be left to wander on your own, small group guides can take you off-the-beaten-path to discover the secrets of the White continent.
There are few things in the world that measure up to kayaking the frozen scenery of a quiet Antarctic cove. Paddle amongst the fjords and icebergs to come face to face with whales, penguins and seals in their natural habitat.
With no Nordic trails to guide you, experience how skiing was done in the good old days, as a way to get from point A to point B. Navigate the elements as you traipse through pristine snow, inclines and groom-less paths to test your internal compass and sense of direction.
Only 43 species of birds breed south of the Antarctic Convergence, nearly all of them seabirds. Whether you’re a notice birder or a pro, head south to see colors, wings and feathers found nowhere else in the world. While penguins represent half the population of all the birds in Antarctica and rule the land, there are plenty of airborne species like the cormorant, albatross, skua, gull and tern that reign over the skies.
24 Hours of Sun
Antarctica is accessible only in the summer season from November to March wgeb sea ice melts enough to allow access. During this time, temperatures can get up to 57°F and there are twenty-four hours of daylight, as opposed to the twenty-four hours of darkness in the foreboding winter. What would you do at night with a sun that never sets, besides bring a sleep mask?
Up for the ultimate adventure? Camp on the ice to experience true Antarctica day in and day out. Sleep in a tent with a portable toilet so as not to dispose of any waste that may disrupt the delicate ecosystem. Experience ultimate serenity as you get one on one with nature and back to your roots.