In a location that belongs to nobody and everybody simultaneously, Antarctica is home to some of the most jaw-dropping, astonishing, and unforeseen sights on Earth. With the most pristine oceans on Earth and an enormous variety of marine life, every sight of unspoiled beauty continues to inspire travelers from across the globe. The best time to visit Antarctica is from November to March, where wildlife is most active, and the days are longer. If you are interested in visiting or learning more about Antarctica, there are several actions you can take to help conserve the Antarctic as a natural reserve, dedicated to peace and science.
BREAKING THE ICE ABOUT CONSERVATION
Antarctica is the last and largest unspoiled wilderness area on Earth. For this reason, Antarctica is a continent for science, crucial in helping us understand the effects of environmental concerns such as global warming. A fragile location, vulnerable to the worst effects of climate change and fishing, Antarctica is one of the world’s most important natural laboratories.
Located 980km from the southern tip of Argentina, Antarctica is the world’s highest, driest, windiest, and coldest continent, with a record low temperature of -94°C. The Antarctic is so dry that it is classified and referred to as a polar desert. Although it may not seem like it on the map, it is much bigger than Europe, and in the Summer, it remains 62 times the size of the United Kingdom – full of wildlife, like penguins and seabird colonies.
Since 1961, all plants and animals in Antarctica have been protected and there are measures in place to prevent pollution of the world’s most pristine environment. Additionally, a variety of areas in the Antarctic have also been afforded special protection because of their ecological, scientific, historic, or other values. Signed in 1998, The Environmental Protocol of the Antarctic Treaty, sometimes called the “Madrid Protocol”, protects Antarctica by only allowing visitors to Antarctica by member nations if they are given a permit to do so – making it important to check your country’s compliance with Antarctic law and regulations.
Although there have been special efforts and laws put in place, the Antarctic has increasingly become vulnerable to the influence of industrialization, waste, and more.
LEARN & EXPLORE
There are many adventurous activities and lessons to be learned in Antarctica. Primarily offering small-scale, bespoke experiences, different organizations and facilities initiate gentle treks through electric blue ice tunnels, glacier picnics, and visits to scientific research bases. Other highlights include mountaineering, kite-skiing, and abseiling, or a personal tour through the frozen landmass around the South Pole. Antarctica is reachable by boat via the infamous Drake Passage, a 1,000-kilometer body of water that separates South America from the Antarctic Peninsula, which often takes a day and a half at sea. Alternatively, voyagers who prefer to skip the Drake Passage may fly out of Punta Arenas, Chile to an island adjacent to the Antarctic Peninsula.
The best way to immerse yourself in the Antarctic experience is aboard an authentic expedition ship – be able to watch the Antarctic wildlife and icebergs pass by on a Zodiac cruise. Aurora Expeditions offers small, low-impact, ship-based expeditions and cruises for individuals across the globe who are passionate about adventure. Offering a full itinerary of knowledge-growing experiences and breathtaking sights, voyagers will be able to see the unique wildlife and walk upon the land of the Antarctic Peninsula. Expedition trips to Antarctica also provide daily opportunities to get off the ship and into the environment. Silversea, another Antarctic Luxury Cruise, boasts all-inclusive packages on small luxury ships, getting close to wildlife in small group adventures by day, and sharing experiences with newfound friends at night. Fine dining, personalized service, and luxury ocean-view suites equipped with unique activity packages create a welcoming experience for voyagers of all backgrounds. Numerous expedition cruise lines and camps offer a host of additional activities to make your trip to Antarctica even more unforgettable, boasting activities such as cross-country skiing, mountaineering, or sea kayaking as you experience wildlife swimming in the clear polar waters.
On a personal tour, see and learn about conservation issues firsthand, taking away lessons about different species or ice sheets. For example, although it is not predicted that the massive Antarctic ice sheets are likely to melt completely, even small-scale melting would raise global sea levels, and cause flooding around the world. In fact, almost 28,000 km2 of glaciers in the Antarctic have retreated since the 1960s, bringing to light the concerns of melting ice sheets. Championing positive change in the near future, there are plenty of lessons to be learned and life to been seen in Antarctica.
If you are looking for a luxury hotel in a place with no permanent settlements, you will discover there are no hotels in Antarctica; rather, other stay alternatives range from luxury lodges to comfortable and convenient campsites – expedition cruises and camps for wildlife observation and outdoor adventure make for an eco-friendly and rewarding experience.
Every location for lodging must have been assessed as having a less than a minor or transitory impact through Initial Environmental Evaluation, a report that reviews the operational environmental measures (e.g., greenhouse gas reduction) and geographic specific environmental measures. With an ENDS environmental award, carbon neutral since 2007, the first luxury lodge on the continent of Antarctica, White Desert Antarctica’s Whichaway Camp, is set upon the ice-clad interior of the land. Working to improve the ways in which we can experience luxurious accommodations in an incredible environment, there are a multitude of luxurious camps that create a perfect setting for guests to relax and share experiences after a day on the ice. Consisting of private, domed pods and spacious communal domes that serve as a lounge, library, and dining room, Whichaway manages to bring luxury experiences to your time abroad featuring amenities such as unique dining options and an on-site sauna. One of the most remote camps in existence, the Gould Bay Camp offers the closest proximity to the Emperor Penguin colony and adventure activities in the Weddell Sea. The Union Glacier Tented Camp is another Antarctica luxury hotel alternative that shows off high-tech nylon clam shell tents that combat below freezing climate and offers unique activities such as walking tours, fat tire biking, guest lectures in the evening, and regular visits to the Polar Library.
There is a lot to know about safety before departure and during your travel experience; furthermore, the rules and regulations of the land are made to ensure that voyagers can explore and learn without the fear of danger.
It is important to remember that the Antarctic environment is inhospitable, unpredictable, and potentially dangerous: Know your capabilities, keep a safe distance from all wildlife (both on land and at sea), do not walk onto glaciers or large snow fields without the proper equipment and experience, and be sure to act upon the advice and instructions from your expedition leaders.
Be prepared for severe and changeable weather and ensure that your equipment and clothing meet Antarctic standards.
The season for leisure travel to Antarctica is available late October through early March; lodges and camps in Antarctica are closed for the shoulder months (April through September), providing a once-in-a-lifetime and unforgettable experience.
It is important to remember that every expedition is unique and will not be the same for everyone. While booking, be sure to consider the activities that you are interested in – photography, mountaineering, kayaking – as each location highlights a different perspective of the Antarctic tundra. Most expedition groups will have an expert team of Travel Advisers that are made to connect you with your perfect bespoke travel experience.
Antarctica is a challenging but fascinating place, made from otherworldly and beautiful images beyond imagination. Your care, from wherever you are in the world, helps maintain the ecosystem on the continent and conserve it as much as possible.
See also: 17 Wellness Trends for 2022