This is not a normal trip but an adventure…
H. V., Namibia
Penguins, icebergs and the adventure of a lifetime
Many people think that Antarctica is the impossible destination – impossible to get to, impossible to afford, impossible to understand. They are mistaken. Antarctica has always been about possibilities – exciting, breathtaking possibilities.
Antarctica is so vast that only a small portion of it can be explored during a two week period. The Antarctic Peninsula, that part of the continent that points toward the tip of South America, is so long that it spans 12 degrees of latitude, approximately 1200 km or 800 miles.
Humans never inhabited Antarctica and exploration of the continent is relatively recent. New discoveries continue to be made. In 2007, for example, our vessels, while exploring the Antarctic Peninsula, sailed uncharted waters.
For many, perhaps, the most appealing aspect of Antarctica is its wildlife. Although there are only a few native species, those that have adapted to the harsh environment thrive in large numbers. Penguin populations are counted in the tens of thousands in some rookeries.
Antarctica is devoid of power lines, billboards, and highways. There are no designer coffee shops or cellular networks. When the engines are turned off, the only sounds you hear are natural – wildlife, water and the occasional boom of icebergs calving. If you listen closely, you can hear your heart beating with excitement!
Most visitors to Antarctica arrive by ship, from the closest port, Ushuaia, in the province of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Longer expeditions depart (or disembark in) from New Zealand, Australia, and Stanley in the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas).
Getting to Antarctica is as much a part of the experience as exploring it. The body of water that separates Antarctica from South America is the Drake Passage. The Drake acts like a funnel, concentrating the energy produced by the winds and currents of the Southern Ocean. The result can be rough water, some of the roughest in the world. Yet some crossings are relatively quiet, providing extraordinary opportunities for birding and whale watching. The unpredictability of the Drake Passage is intoxicating. A crossing is the perfect introduction to expedition-style travel, where unpredictability is the only thing you can truly count on.
Expeditions to Antarctica are diverse in style and cost. Three elements affect the cost of a voyage: the duration of the expedition, the passenger capacity of the vessel, and the activities included.
Antarctica does not lend itself to “bare bones” travel. You cannot upgrade hotels or cut your expedition short if you find you have chosen the wrong itinerary or ship.
Invest wisely, choose an expedition operated by a company with a solid reputation, and ships that are purpose-built for polar waters. Choose an icebreaker expedition if you want the ultimate Antarctic experience. Nimble adventure ships are for active adventures. Expedition ships offer adventures in comfort.