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Antarctica

Antarctica is a land of extremes: it is the coldest and driest continent on Earth and has the highest average elevation. As the fifth largest continent in the world, Antarctica is also the most Southern, overlying the South Pole.

Scarcely touched by humans, the frozen land boasts breathtaking scenery, broken by only a handful of scientific bases and a "permanent" population of scientists numbering only a few thousand. Visitors to Antarctica generally must brave rough sea crossings aboard ice-strengthened vessels, but those who do are rewarded with amazing scenery and tremendous and unique wildlife.

Regions

Note: All dots on the map represent inhabited research stations.

Also see Islands of the Southern Ocean

Destinations

The primary destinations for those visiting Antarctica will either be a research base (for those working on the frozen continent) or the Antarctic Peninsula or Ross Sea area (for those visiting by ship). Other destinations are reachable only by those blessed with extreme motivation and (most importantly) funding.

  • South Pole — needs no introduction
  • Southern pole of inaccessibility — the furthest place in Antarctica from the Southern Sea (in other words the hardest place to get to in the world), home to an abandoned Soviet station, which although covered by snow, still bears a visible gold Lenin bust sprouting from the snow and facing Moscow (if you can find a way inside the building, then there's a golden visitor book to sign)
  • Mount Erebus — world's southernmost active volcano, on Ross Island right next to ~Mount Terror!~
  • Anver Island / Anvord Bay — if any part of Antarctica is "touristy," this is it, home to Palmer Station (U.S.), the museum at Port Lockroy, Cuverville Island, and the only two cruise ship stops on the continent: Paradise Bay and Neko Harbor
  • South Shetland Islands — another set of major attractions on the Antarctic Peninsula cruise ship circuit, including: penguins and hot springs at Deception Island, Hannah Point, Half Moon Island, Aitcho Islands, Artigas Base (Uruguay), and the ever friendly Polish researchers at Arctowski Station
  • McMurdo Sound — McMurdo Station (USA) and Scott Base (New Zealand) on the mainland near Ross Island
  • Mawson's Huts — the small encampment of Sir Douglas Mawson's ill-fated Australian Antarctic Expedition, of which he was the sole survivor, at Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay

Understand

Although several countries have laid claim to various portions of Antarctica, it is governed by the 1958 Antarctic Treaty, which establishes the continent as a peaceful and cooperative international research zone. As the Antarctic treaty prohibits its signatories from making any new claims to territory and claims to antarctic territory already made have little to no effect as long as the treaty stands, there are overlapping claims and a rather large swath that is technically not claimed by anybody, no matter how you slice it. The only other significant piece of dry land with that characteristic is Bir Tawil between Sudan and Egypt. There are no cities per se, just some two dozen research stations with a total population ranging from 1,000–4,000 depending on the time of year (more in the November–March summer than in the June–September winter). These are maintained for scientific purposes only, and do not provide any official support for tourism. The laws of the nation operating each research station apply there.

Private travel to Antarctica generally takes one of three forms:

  1. commercial sea voyages with shore visits (by far the most popular)
  2. specially mounted land expeditions, or
  3. sightseeing by air.

Approximately 80 companies belong to the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), a membership organization which regulates non-research travel to the region. According to the organization 34,316 visitors traveled to Antarctica in the season of 2012-'13, while in the record season of 2007-'08 the number of visitors was 45,213.

History

Antarctica was the last continent to be discovered by humans. While explorers earlier reported sightings of the "unknown land in the south", the earliest certain sightings of land south of the 60° latitude are by either Russian, British or American ship crews in January 1820 (there's no reliable information of which sighting was first). The first person to have set foot on the Antarctic mainland was an American sealer named John Davis in 1821.

The rough waters and the coast were explored throughout the 19th century. In 1897 a Belgian expedition overwintered on Antarctica and this was the start of the "Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration", culminating in the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and his crew setting foot on the South Pole 14 years later. The scientific research station at the pole, Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, is jointly named after him and the British explorer Robert Scott who arrived at the pole about a month later, but never made it back to the coast.

Eventually countries started setting up stations and claiming parts of the continent, with some claims overlapping. This was ended by the Antarctic Treaty, signed in 1959. The treaty makes the continent a scientific preserve, "doesn't recognize, dispute, nor establish territorial sovereignty claims" and prohibits any military activity there. Today most of the few thousand "inhabitants" are indeed transient researchers, given the remoteness and inhospitable environment it's no surprise. They are joined by some 40,000 tourists visiting each year, though most of them only make cruises to the Antarctic Peninsula and adjacient islands.

Flora and fauna

Antarctica is notable for being the only continent with no significant land plant life and no native land mammals, reptiles, or amphibians. (There are no polar bears; they are only at the North Pole.) However, its shoreline serves as nesting grounds for many species of migratory birds and penguins (several species of which stay in Antarctica regardless of the season), and the Southern Ocean surrounding it is home to many fish and marine mammals, including whales.

Landscape

Don't be fooled by all the ice: Antarctica is a desert. The region's moisture is all tied up in frigid seawater and the huge sheets, shelves, and packs of ice which cover nearly all of the continent plus surrounding waters. There is little snowfall here, and even less rain.

Climate

For tourists, Antarctica is accessible only during the austral summer season from November to March, during which sea ice melts enough to allow access, coastal temperatures can rise up to highs of 14°C (57°F) and there are twenty-four hours of daylight. During the winter the sea is impassable. Temperatures can fall to -40°C/F and there are twenty-four hours of darkness.

The above temperatures apply to the islands and coastal regions that tourists ordinarily visit. Temperatures in the interior, such as the South Pole, are far harsher, with summer highs of around -15°C (5°F) and winter lows plummeting to -80°C (-112°F).

Within the Antarctic Circle, the midnight sun can be seen during part of the summer.

Read

For most people, reading about Antarctica is the only affordable means of experiencing the continent. Books range from wild works of fiction to non-fiction accounts of the extraordinary early missions of adventurers looking to conquer Earth's last land frontier.

  • At the Mountains of Madness — the earliest science fiction/horror story to take place on the continent, written by H.P. Lovecraft, detailing the adventures of a geological expedition to Antarctic Mountains, where the researchers discover something so inconceivable that they lose their minds
  • Antarctica, by Kim Stanley Robinson — science fiction account of 21st century Antarctica and the impact of global warming.
  • Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage, by Alfred Lansing
  • Endurance, by Caroline Alexander
  • A First-Rate Tragedy: Robert Falcon Scott & the Race to the South Pole, by Diana Preston
  • Mawson's Will, by Lennard Bickel
  • North Pole, South Pole: Journeys to the Ends of the Earth, by Bertrand Imbert
  • Scott's Last Expedition: The Journals, by Robert F. Scott and Beryl Bainbridge
  • Shackleton, by Roland Huntford
  • South Pole: 900 Miles on Foot, by Gareth Wood and Eric Jamieson
  • The Worst Journey in the World, by Apsley Cherry-Garrard
  • Terra Incognita, by Sara Wheeler
  • South, by Ernest Shackleton

Talk

The native languages of the nations' operating bases are used. English is the lingua franca used between different stations. As there is no indigenous antarctic population and only a handful of people were ever born here, there is no official or indigenous native language for the continent whatsoever.

Get in

By plane

Aircraft and pilots need to be capable of landing on ice, snow, or gravel runways, as there are no paved runways; see general aviation. There are 28 airport landing facilities in Antarctica and all 37 Antarctic stations have helipads. Landings are generally restricted to the daylight season (Summer months from October to March). Winter landings have been performed at Williams Field but low temperatures mean that aircraft cannot stay on the ice longer than an hour or so as their skis may freeze to the ice runway. Travel is often by military aircraft, as part of the cargo. In this situation passengers should anticipate carrying all their own luggage and may need to assist with freight as well. Commercial flights to Antarctica are rare, but available. Aerovías DAP and Adventure Network International offer commercial flights to Frei Station on King George Island and the ANI Union Glacier Camp, respectively. If taking the Aerovías DAP flight as part of a tour with Antarctica XXI, the tour company transfers all checked luggage to your lodging.

Major landing fields include:

  • Teniente Rodolfo Marsh Martin Aerodrome (IATA: TNM) - Serves Frei Base, Bellingshausen Station, Great Wall Base, General Artigas Station, King Sejong Station, Jubany Base, Commandante Ferraz Base, Henryk Arctowski Base, and Machu Picchu Base. It's distinguished by being the only place in the whole continent of Antarctica with an IATA code.
  • Williams Field - Serves McMurdo Station and Scott Base.
  • Pegasus Blue-Ice Runway - Serves McMurdo Station and Scott Base.
  • Annual Sea-Ice Runway - Serves McMurdo Station and Scott Base.
  • Union Glacier Blue-Ice Runway - Operated by Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions LLC

Commercial overflights to Antarctica are limited - a handful of operators offer flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart and Punta Arenas. These flights typically visit Antarctica and spend several hours flying over the ice. Passengers in most seating classes rotate their position in the row halfway into the flight, to give everyone a window or one-over-from-window seat for half of the time. Rates range from USD5200 for first class, to USD1400 for partially-obstructed-view economy class, or USD900 for non-rotating centre-section seats with window access depending on the courtesy of better-seated travellers.

By cruise ship

Boat is the most common method of visiting the Antarctic. In the Antarctic summer, several companies offer excursions on ice strengthened vessels to Antarctica. Ice-strengthened (not quite as tough as icebreakers) boats are preferred since icebreakers are round on the bottom — a configuration that amplifies the already massive wave action in the Drake passage. The ships typically offer a couple of excursions to the continent (usually the Antarctic peninsula) or Antarctic islands (e.g., Deception Island, Aitcho Island) each day over the course of a week. The views are phenomenal, the penguins are friendly (well, some of them are), and the experience is one that is unparalleled!

When traveling by boat, be aware that smaller ships (typically carrying 50–100 passengers) can go where the big ships can't, getting you up closer to Antarctica's nature and wildlife. Larger vessels (carrying as many as 1,200 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 travelers.

You'll need warm clothing: boots, hoods, glove, water repellent pants, parka and warm underwear. Most of these items can be bought or hired in Ushuaia, but sometimes — in the high season — it is not always easy to get the right sizes. So bring whatever you can from your own stock.

It must also be remembered that cruise operators typically only allow 100 people on land at any one time 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 and you may expect a 60% success rate on landing people for any given visit.

Many shipping companies are now offering fly/cruise options, which entails a one-way or round-trip flight from either Santiago or Punta Arenas to King George Island. These are often pricier than typically cruises that cross the Drake Passage both ways, but cut 1–3 days off the total travel time.

Companies offering cruises to Antarctica include:

  • Abercrombie & Kent, USA. Full member of IAATO with 20 years of Antarctica operating experience, providing enrichment and educational programs.
  • Antarctic Shipping. Full member of IAATO, Antarctic Shipping operates the 78 passenger M/V Antarctic Dream, an expedition vessel with ice strengthened hull built specifically for Antarctica exploration and totally refurbished to add the comfort of a small cruise ship. The size of the vessel allows for several landings in Antarctica and opportunities to do camping and kayaking.
  • Antarctic Unbound. Traveling aboard Ocean Nova, full member of IAATO, Antarctic Unbound offers 11 and 22 day itineraries. These trips do get off on the continent and offer opportunities to hike, walk and kayak.
  • Antarpply Expeditions. Members of IAATO, Antarpply Expeditions is a leading operator of small ship expedition cruises to Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic islands. Antarpply is based in Ushuaia and specializes in taking small groups and individual passengers to some of the most spectacular, remote and pristine parts of the world on board the USHUAIA.
  • Aurora Expeditions. Aurora Expeditions are the pioneers of ship-based adventures, and are committed to small, low-impact groups keen to experience the Antarctica. They take a maximum of 54 passengers, departing Australia, New Zealand and South America and also offer a range of activities including sea kayaking, camping, photography, climbing and scuba diving.
  • Bark Europa. A square rigged sailing ship offering 22 day trips to Antarctica and other Sub Antarctic destinations like South Georgia and Tristan da Cunha.
  • Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris. Offers in-depth itineraries that stress maximum time ashore and Zodiac cruising with a large staff of Antarctic veterans. They offer various itineraries on different years, including The Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and Falkland Islands; Extended South Georgia and Falkland Islands only; and Extended Antarctic Peninsula and Continent only. They charter the entire ship that is the best fit for the expedition and always take less than 100 people so all can land at once to provide more time ashore.
  • Compagnie du Ponant. Offers multiple itineraries on luxury vessels, as well French and German speaking departures.
  • Expedition Cruise Specialists. Offering a selection of small group Antarctica expedition cruises from both South America and New Zealand.
  • G Adventures. Operates trips on their ship, the M/S Expedition. The maximum number of passengers is 120 and the there are by lectures by staff and naturalists on board.
  • Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. Members of IAATO, their small expedition ships have the highest ice class ranking for cruise ships, and each vessel offers 4-5 cruises to Antarctica between December and March every year, including Antarctic peninsula, South Shetland Islands, Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and the Weddell Sea.
  • Heritage Expeditions. New Zealand's award winning expedition travel company. They specialise in worldwide natural history small group expeditions and their expertise and experience of the Subantarctic Islands, the Ross Sea and East Antarctica is unsurpassed. They operate their own ice-strengthened polar research vessel the Spirit of Enderby with trips to the Ross Sea and Commonwealth Bay (famous for Sir Douglas Mawson's historic hut) several times a year.
  • Intrepid Travel. Their ship is a tough icebreaker allowing for freedom of movement even in polar regions. The ship's small size (max. 100 persons) gives you the opportunity to go where many others can't. To get you even closer, they have a fleet of 10 sturdy inflatable motorized boats (Zodiacs) to provide access to small or shallow areas and landings.
  • Lindblad Expeditions. Lindblad pioneered travel to Antarctica in 1966 and offers multiple trips to the Antarctic Peninsula, and longer trips which also include the Falklands and South Georgia aboard the new 148-guest National Geographic Explorer.
  • Oceanwide Expeditions. Oceanwide Expeditions, for many years elected the "World's Leading Polar Expedition Operator" at the World Travel Market in London, has been organizing expedition cruises for almost two decades. Areas of operation include Antarctica, South Georgia, Spitsbergen and Greenland. The fleet consists of several comfortable ice-strengthened ships including Plancius, Ortelius, Rembrandt van Rijn and Noorderlicht. Because of its long tradition of pioneering the polar regions the expedition staff has gained in-depth knowledge of Antarctica and the Arctic.
  • Orion Expedition Cruises. The Orion is a purpose built vessel designed to access remote locations in 5-star luxury. Orion Expedition Cruises operate a number of summer-time cruises to Antarctica, departing from Australia and New Zealand.
  • Quark Expeditions. The leader in Polar adventures since 1991, operates multiple vessels and itineraries each season to various parts of the Antarctic peninsula.
  • Rockjumper Birding tours. Operates out of South Africa and is aimed at those interested in birding.

Most cruise ships depart from the following ports:

By sailboat

About a dozen charter sailboats, many of them members of IAATO, offer three to six week voyages to the Antarctic Peninsula from South America. Most offer "expedition style" trips where guests are invited to help out, although usually no prior sailing experience is required. Yachts take individuals on a "by the bunk" basis and also support private expeditions such as scientific research, mountaineering, kayaking, and film-making. Compared to the more popular cruise ships, a small yacht can be more work and significantly less comfortable, but typically allows more freedom and flexibility. For the right people this can be a far more rewarding experience.

  • Ocean Expeditions. Expedition support yacht Australis purpose-built for high latitudes. Specialising in private or commercial expeditions involving film making, scientific research, adventure activities, wildlife enthusiasts or just an intimate experience of the Antarctic.
  • Expedition Sail. Sailing yacht SEAL is a purpose-built expedition sailboat offering private expeditions, support for research, filming, or climbing projects, and also offers "by the bunk" trips for individuals.
  • Spirit of Sydney. Australians, Darrel and Cath, own and operate Spirit of Sydney, an expedition support yacht perfectly suited to meet and exceed the requirements of film crews, mountaineers, skiers and snowboarders, sea kayakers, dry suit divers, scientists, sailors of all experience levels, whale watchers and adventurers of all kinds. They typically carry kayaks on board, and offer both private charters and group trips for individuals.

Antarctic stations

stations include

  • Great Wall (62°13'S, 58°58'W) (China)
  • Zhongshan (69°22'S, 76°23'E) (China)
  • Kunlun (80°25'S, 77°07'E) (China)
  • McMurdo (77°51'S, 166°40'E) (USA)
  • Palmer (64°42'S, 64°00'W) (USA)
  • Comandante Ferraz (62°05'S, 58°23'W) (Brazil)
  • Arctowski (Poland)
  • St. Kliment Ohridski, (Livingston Island) (62°38'29"S, 60°21'53"W) (Bulgaria)
  • Port Lockroy (UK)
  • Baia Terranova (Italy)
  • Mawson (67°36'S, 62°52'E) (Australia)
  • Davis (68°35'S, 77°58'E) (Australia)
  • Casey (66°16.94'S, 110°31.5'E) (Australia)
  • Aboa (73°03'S, 13°25'W) (Finland)
  • Esperanza ("Argentina")
  • Jubany ("Argentina")
  • Marambio (Argentina)
  • San Martin (Argentina)
  • Comandante Ferraz (Brazil)
  • Arturo Prat
  • Vostok (Russia)

Get around

Ponies, sledges and dogs, skis, tractors, snow cats (and similar tracked vehicles) and aircraft including helicopters and ski planes have all been used to get around Antarctica. Cruise ships use zodiac boats to ferry tourists from ship to shore in small groups. Bring your own fuel and food, or arrange supplies in advance. You cannot purchase fuel or food on the continent. Cruise ships come fully prepared with landing transport, food, etc. Some (but not all) even provide cold-weather clothing.

Sleep

Antarctica has 24-hour sunshine during the southern hemisphere summer, and 24-hours of nighttime during the winter. Visitors should ensure that they take steps to keep regular sleeping hours as continuous daylight disturbs the body clock. There are no hotels or lodges on the continent, and research bases will not generally house guests. Most visitors sleep aboard their boat, although land expeditions will use tents for shelter.

Work

It is possible to obtain employment with scientific expeditions in Antarctica. Induction and training need to be undertaken before departure for Antarctica.

The following agencies are responsible for staffing bases in Antarctica:

  • Antarctic Support Contract. Agency responsible for staffing all United States Antarctic bases. Applicants can apply through the web site or at one of the Antarctic job fairs held around the country.
  • British Antarctic Survey. The British Antarctic Survey staffs bases in the Antarctic and surround region including the Falklands and South Georgia.

Stay safe

See also Cold weather

Antarctica is an extreme environment, and accidents are unavoidable. Every year numerous people are injured or even killed visiting the Antarctic, and while this should not dissuade people from visiting, it should encourage visitors to exercise caution and make a realistic evaluation of their own abilities when choosing a trip.

As most visitors to Antarctica will arrive by boat, the greatest dangers occur due to storms at sea. The weather in the Southern Ocean is nature at its most extreme, with the potential for hurricane force winds and waves as high as 60–70 feet (18–23 m). With modern safety and ship design the odds of sinking are low, but the odds of being thrown about by a wave are high. When on a boat in rough weather always make sure that you have at least one secure handhold, and avoid opening doors during storms as a sudden shift in the waves can easily bring a heavy door crashing back onto a body part. In severe weather stay in your cabin and wait for the storm to subside. Similarly, be extremely cautious when returning to ship via a zodiac and follow crew instructions — a landing platform in rough weather can be deadly should you slip and fall.

Weather on the continent is equally extreme, although most visitors pack appropriate gear. For expeditions there are limited search-and-rescue options, so expeditions must plan for all contingencies. There is no formal government or legal system in Antarctica, but the laws of the country of origin or departure as well as those of a claimant government may apply. Rules regarding protection of the environment and of historical sites will be strictly enforced, and fines can be extreme.

Also note that when visiting Antarctica that a hospital is usually days away. Most ships and research stations have a doctor, but facilities are limited. In cases where evacuation is required (if even possible), costs can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Many Antarctic cruise operators require passengers to obtain evacuation insurance. Before embarking on an Antarctic journey, those with pre-existing conditions should strongly consider the risks of venturing into a land where medical help may not be available.

Stay healthy

Antarctica has an extreme environment. Cold weather is a major health hazard. Visitors should be properly prepared and equipped for any visit. Waterproof and windproof gloves, coat, pants, and boots are an absolute necessity. Other necessities that are often overlooked include sunscreen and sunglasses — summertime visitors will be exposed to the sun's rays from above and from reflections off of snow, ice, and water. Additionally, those arriving by boat are strongly encouraged to take some seasickness medicine on their journey, as even the most seaworthy individual will feel queasy in a severe storm; check with your doctor to determine what medicine is appropriate for you to bring.

Respect

Antarctica has a very fragile environment. Pollution should be avoided if at all possible. Expeditions should anticipate the need to remove all waste from the continent when they leave. Waste disposal and sewage facilities on the continent are severely limited and restricted to permanent installations. Of particular concern to tourists is the danger of introducing foreign organisms into the fragile Antarctic environment. Many tour operators will require visitors to do a boot wash after every landing to avoid carrying seeds or other items from one location to another. In addition, visitors should examine all clothing before embarking to avoid bringing any plant or animal material to the Antarctic; invasive species have devastated many regions of the planet, so it is particularly important to protect Antarctica from this danger.

The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) is a voluntary organization of tour operators which promotes safe and environmentally responsible tourism in Antarctica. It publishes standards for member tour operators on responsible practices for private visitors to the continent.

Connect

The top-level Internet domain for Antarctic sites, .aq, is assigned to organizations that conduct work in Antarctica or signatory governments to the Antarctic Treaty. Generally, its servers are hosted elsewhere; a satellite connection may be possible from some Antarctic locations but connectivity is limited at best.

2016-02-17-1455716092-6063356-IMG_7527.JPG Spectacle surrounds me. The majesty of the land, sea and skyscapes almost overwhelms. It is hard to process the sensory assault of sights, sounds and smells, the frigid touch of the air, the taste of salt on my lips. The vistas that addle the eye, the moist hollow exhalation of a humpbacks breath, the fishy farmyard tang of penguin guano. But this is not just data. It is raw, visceral and emotive. The most incredible thing about Antarctica is how it makes you feel. Insignificant. Miniscule. Perhaps shrunk from our egotism we feel our real size, vulnerable hair-less apes don't seem so big and clever in a blizzard. Antarctica is so immense, both in terms of its expansive geography and riotously rugged topography, you can't help but feel small. Our cruise has barely brushed the tip of the proverbial ice-berg, the slender finger of the Peninsula that reaches out to tickle Tierra del Fuego. The mountainous Trans-Antarctic massif is massive, but almost entirely buried beneath a smooth all consuming cloak of ice often thousands of metres thick. Whisk it away and Antarctica is not a single land mass but a vast archipelago of mountains and basins. I feel infinitesimally tiny. 2016-02-17-1455716006-6605287-antarcticbedrock3.jpg Transitory. The ice is hundreds of thousands if not millions of years old in places. Air trapped in cores drilled out from the sheet shows us the mix of gases in our ancestral atmosphere. Up to six hundred thousand years ago. At that time our hominid heritage was still grubbing about with rather rudimentary intelligence somewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. I am but a blink in the eye of this ancient world. I feel stupidly young. I am touched by beauty. The creativity wrought by the elemental pairing of hydrogen and oxygen is astonishing. I see the bonds between them that make up the majority of me, us, unleashed to a world-shaping potential. It is exhilarating as monstrous glaciers grunt and grind over the rock before calving to build castles in the sea. And what castles. Nature is a restless sculptress. Her tools are primary forces; the wind, waves and sunshine. Even the bubbles trapped in the ice carve grooves as they're released. The ocean bristles orgiastically with flamboyant but ephemeral creations. Bergs like enormous cuboid edifices of blocky brutalism. Pinnacled cathedrals. Frozen ramparts and battlements of fortified ice, or the sinuous, sensuous curves of sleek-surfaced transports of delight. 2016-02-17-1455716292-7643477-IMG_7271.JPG With nine tenths of their mass underwater in shallow bays the bergs ground, littering the horizon like a compromised armada. They list, heel, roll, right themselves again, crack, split and fragment. Shattered faces scatter light. Compressed ice shines deep bottle blue from within. Textures range from gritty composites to scalloped delicacy. I am inspired by the timeless artist's imagination. Of course I feel cold. This is obvious but important. Unlike the Stygian sub-zero savagery of winter the summer is mild. Temperatures hover around freezing. However the chill contains a thinly veiled threat, knowing that a sharp-toothed wind can bite deep into your bones in minutes. Fear occasionally surfaces. This is forbidding and foreboding territory. Perhaps it is but a healthy respect for our interloper status? I feel alien. An imposter. Ill-equipped. This is not home. There is no warm embrace of earth. No green reassurance. Ice scours the land of almost all life. The only terrestrial growth to speak of is the incredible engine of icy locomotion that flows from the shores. In contrast the sea teems. The water is olive-tinged with the explosive growth of planktonic diatoms. Crab-eater seal fur and Orca skin glistens verdantly due to the attached algae. Krill graze this harvest, and they power a bounteous marine food chain of gargantuan productivity. I am astonished by the rich fecundity. Above all else I feel unbridled joy. Hope. Not all planets can be as beautiful as this one. Antarctica is like stepping into another world. I sense that same shift in consciousness that explorers or even astronauts feel. The overview effect of interconnection, interdependence and indivisibility writ large. My heart expands, fills with elation. I stand outside myself and know that in this moment there is only exquisite splendour. It feels amazing. Ed Gillespie is Co-Founder of www.wearefuterra.com, author of 'Only Planet - a flight-free adventure around the world' and in the Antarctic... Follow Ed Gillespie on Twitter: www.twitter.com/frucool and via #pole2soul This blog is part of a series. Read other instalments via the author's profile page.

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2016-02-17-1455716092-6063356-IMG_7527.JPG Spectacle surrounds me. The majesty of the land, sea and skyscapes almost overwhelms. It is hard to process the sensory assault of sights, sounds and smells, the frigid touch of the air, the taste of salt on my lips. The vistas that addle the eye, the moist hollow exhalation of a humpbacks breath, the fishy farmyard tang of penguin guano. But this is not just data. It is raw, visceral and emotive. The most incredible thing about Antarctica is how it makes you feel. Insignificant. Miniscule. Perhaps shrunk from our egotism we feel our real size, vulnerable hair-less apes don't seem so big and clever in a blizzard. Antarctica is so immense, both in terms of its expansive geography and riotously rugged topography, you can't help but feel small. Our cruise has barely brushed the tip of the proverbial ice-berg, the slender finger of the Peninsula that reaches out to tickle Tierra del Fuego. The mountainous Trans-Antarctic massif is massive, but almost entirely buried beneath a smooth all consuming cloak of ice often thousands of metres thick. Whisk it away and Antarctica is not a single land mass but a vast archipelago of mountains and basins. I feel infinitesimally tiny. 2016-02-17-1455716006-6605287-antarcticbedrock3.jpg Transitory. The ice is hundreds of thousands if not millions of years old in places. Air trapped in cores drilled out from the sheet shows us the mix of gases in our ancestral atmosphere. Up to six hundred thousand years ago. At that time our hominid heritage was still grubbing about with rather rudimentary intelligence somewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. I am but a blink in the eye of this ancient world. I feel stupidly young. I am touched by beauty. The creativity wrought by the elemental pairing of hydrogen and oxygen is astonishing. I see the bonds between them that make up the majority of me, us, unleashed to a world-shaping potential. It is exhilarating as monstrous glaciers grunt and grind over the rock before calving to build castles in the sea. And what castles. Nature is a restless sculptress. Her tools are primary forces; the wind, waves and sunshine. Even the bubbles trapped in the ice carve grooves as they're released. The ocean bristles orgiastically with flamboyant but ephemeral creations. Bergs like enormous cuboid edifices of blocky brutalism. Pinnacled cathedrals. Frozen ramparts and battlements of fortified ice, or the sinuous, sensuous curves of sleek-surfaced transports of delight. 2016-02-17-1455716292-7643477-IMG_7271.JPG With nine tenths of their mass underwater in shallow bays the bergs ground, littering the horizon like a compromised armada. They list, heel, roll, right themselves again, crack, split and fragment. Shattered faces scatter light. Compressed ice shines deep bottle blue from within. Textures range from gritty composites to scalloped delicacy. I am inspired by the timeless artist's imagination. Of course I feel cold. This is obvious but important. Unlike the Stygian sub-zero savagery of winter the summer is mild. Temperatures hover around freezing. However the chill contains a thinly veiled threat, knowing that a sharp-toothed wind can bite deep into your bones in minutes. Fear occasionally surfaces. This is forbidding and foreboding territory. Perhaps it is but a healthy respect for our interloper status? I feel alien. An imposter. Ill-equipped. This is not home. There is no warm embrace of earth. No green reassurance. Ice scours the land of almost all life. The only terrestrial growth to speak of is the incredible engine of icy locomotion that flows from the shores. In contrast the sea teems. The water is olive-tinged with the explosive growth of planktonic diatoms. Crab-eater seal fur and Orca skin glistens verdantly due to the attached algae. Krill graze this harvest, and they power a bounteous marine food chain of gargantuan productivity. I am astonished by the rich fecundity. Above all else I feel unbridled joy. Hope. Not all planets can be as beautiful as this one. Antarctica is like stepping into another world. I sense that same shift in consciousness that explorers or even astronauts feel. The overview effect of interconnection, interdependence and indivisibility writ large. My heart expands, fills with elation. I stand outside myself and know that in this moment there is only exquisite splendour. It feels amazing. Ed Gillespie is Co-Founder of www.wearefuterra.com, author of 'Only Planet - a flight-free adventure around the world' and in the Antarctic... Follow Ed Gillespie on Twitter: www.twitter.com/frucool and via #pole2soul This blog is part of a series. Read other instalments via the author's profile page.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Trapped in the ice

For two weeks the ship Akademik Shokalskiy was trapped in thick ice in East Antarctica.

 

Text and photographs by Andrew Peacock

For two weeks — from 24th December 2013 while operating for an Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) — the ship Akademik Shokalskiy was trapped in thick ice in Commonwealth Bay, East Antarctica.  

The story of that event and the eventual evacuation of the passengers onboard by Chinese helicopter to the Australian icebreaking ship Aurora Australis became worldwide news at the time.

I was the doctor and photographer on that Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) and found myself at the center of what became a media storm. Unfortunately, that drama rather overshadowed the reasons behind our expedition journey south to the white continent.

Our ship, the Akademik Shokalskiy became trapped in ice for two weeks when a storm blew thick pack ice into a previously open lead in the ocean.  

The AAE was a science-based expedition from the University of New South Wales, Australia that relied on private funding from paying passengers and university grants.

The aim was to travel to the area of Commonwealth Bay in East Antarctica to repeat and compare scientific observations with those made by an Australian geologist and explorer Sir Douglas Mawson, who first landed there 100 years earlier with the ‘original’ AAE.

On what must have been the Edwardian equivalent of today’s space travel, Mawson and his team had established a base hut there at Cape Denison — a location that has now been proven to be one of the windiest places on Earth. Over the following two years, the team made important oceanographic, geological, and meteorological measurements. An example of such measurements is illustrated in the image below (right) where a member of the expedition is firing a dart into the skin of a seal to collect full thickness skin and fat samples that can then be analyzed to assess nutrition and chemical exposure status.  

Left: Salps are most abundant in the Southern Ocean where they sometimes form enormous swarms, often in deep water, and are sometimes even more abundant than krill.  

Clearly, we had more creature comforts than Mawson and his men, yet visiting the coast of East Antarctica is still a difficult proposition, and it felt very remote, geographically speaking. The desolate landscape with its multi-hued, blue ice features and the intense, 24-hour light of such a southern latitude made for a wonderful, yet challenging environment in which to photograph.  

 

Antarctica is undoubtedly a beautiful place, but one that changes remarkably in mood with the weather. Delightfully inquisitive penguins are a constant presence at the edge of the ice, and their charismatic personality means I never tire of photographing them.

 

Much is still unknown about the frozen continent, partly because of its incredibly harsh conditions, and along with the expedition’s findings, my photographs were intended to help focus attention on the scientific investigation into climate change in Antarctica.

 

I’m a believer in sustainable tourism to Antarctica. By controlling access and overseeing rules designed to minimize the environmental impact of visitors there is the opportunity to allow people from all corners of the globe to safely experience the beauty of these landscapes and wildlife in this special continent.

 

The International Association of Antarctic Tourism Operators (IAATO) provides regulatory oversight of the mostly ship-based tourism to this important continent, and all ships must provide educational content as part of their tourist charter.

This exposure to teaching from experts while out in the field and the first-hand, raw experience of this remarkable continent serves to imprint upon visitors the importance of Antarctica to the Earth as a whole, especially when it comes to the continent’s vulnerability to the impacts of a changing climate directly linked to man’s activities.

On returning home, I felt better prepared and inspired to speak up on behalf of the white continent and to help spread the message to others that Antarctica is a place we must protect at all costs.

 

Trapped in the ice

For two weeks the ship Akademik Shokalskiy was trapped in thick ice in East Antarctica.

 

Text and photographs by Andrew Peacock

For two weeks — from 24th December 2013 while operating for an Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) — the ship Akademik Shokalskiy was trapped in thick ice in Commonwealth Bay, East Antarctica.  

The story of that event and the eventual evacuation of the passengers onboard by Chinese helicopter to the Australian icebreaking ship Aurora Australis became worldwide news at the time.

I was the doctor and photographer on that Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) and found myself at the center of what became a media storm. Unfortunately, that drama rather overshadowed the reasons behind our expedition journey south to the white continent.

Our ship, the Akademik Shokalskiy became trapped in ice for two weeks when a storm blew thick pack ice into a previously open lead in the ocean.  

The AAE was a science-based expedition from the University of New South Wales, Australia that relied on private funding from paying passengers and university grants.

The aim was to travel to the area of Commonwealth Bay in East Antarctica to repeat and compare scientific observations with those made by an Australian geologist and explorer Sir Douglas Mawson, who first landed there 100 years earlier with the ‘original’ AAE.

On what must have been the Edwardian equivalent of today’s space travel, Mawson and his team had established a base hut there at Cape Denison — a location that has now been proven to be one of the windiest places on Earth. Over the following two years, the team made important oceanographic, geological, and meteorological measurements. An example of such measurements is illustrated in the image below (right) where a member of the expedition is firing a dart into the skin of a seal to collect full thickness skin and fat samples that can then be analyzed to assess nutrition and chemical exposure status.  

Left: Salps are most abundant in the Southern Ocean where they sometimes form enormous swarms, often in deep water, and are sometimes even more abundant than krill.  

Clearly, we had more creature comforts than Mawson and his men, yet visiting the coast of East Antarctica is still a difficult proposition, and it felt very remote, geographically speaking. The desolate landscape with its multi-hued, blue ice features and the intense, 24-hour light of such a southern latitude made for a wonderful, yet challenging environment in which to photograph.  

 

Antarctica is undoubtedly a beautiful place, but one that changes remarkably in mood with the weather. Delightfully inquisitive penguins are a constant presence at the edge of the ice, and their charismatic personality means I never tire of photographing them.

 

Much is still unknown about the frozen continent, partly because of its incredibly harsh conditions, and along with the expedition’s findings, my photographs were intended to help focus attention on the scientific investigation into climate change in Antarctica.

 

I’m a believer in sustainable tourism to Antarctica. By controlling access and overseeing rules designed to minimize the environmental impact of visitors there is the opportunity to allow people from all corners of the globe to safely experience the beauty of these landscapes and wildlife in this special continent.

 

The International Association of Antarctic Tourism Operators (IAATO) provides regulatory oversight of the mostly ship-based tourism to this important continent, and all ships must provide educational content as part of their tourist charter.

This exposure to teaching from experts while out in the field and the first-hand, raw experience of this remarkable continent serves to imprint upon visitors the importance of Antarctica to the Earth as a whole, especially when it comes to the continent’s vulnerability to the impacts of a changing climate directly linked to man’s activities.

On returning home, I felt better prepared and inspired to speak up on behalf of the white continent and to help spread the message to others that Antarctica is a place we must protect at all costs.

 

FOR A place that seemingly has nothing — no cities, no hotels, no restaurants — Antarctica sure is full of sights unlike anywhere else in the world. 1

When the captain announced through the PA system that there would be an ice island floating by soon, I finally emerged from my cabin after nearly two days. The captain’s earlier predictions of “some stormy weather” felt like a massive understatement in retrospect - I would have called the raging 10-12 meter waves something else entirely. The enthusiasm that the passengers exhibited on their way to the deck was palpable and contagious. Excited chatter filled the hallways as everyone was bundling up in preparation for the frigid air waiting outside. It wasn’t the ice island itself that we all were so excited about, it was what it signified; we were getting close to the Antarctic Peninsula.

2

I don’t normally get excited about something as trivial as ice. I’ve lived most of my life in countries with harsh winters so I’ve seen plenty of ice in my life, too much, I might have argued. When my friends and family wanted to know what was the best part of my trip to the White Continent, I knew they fully expected me to squeal “penguins!” as the answer. To their surprise and mine, it was the different ice formations that impressed me the most.

3

Nowhere in the northern hemisphere had I seen such ice formations ranging from millennia-old crystal clear fragments to icebergs with an unrealistically blue glow. Neither had I ever imagined I would witness an iceberg capsizing while I sat at sea level in a zodiac, truly feeling the power of nature.

Intermission

33 places to swim in the world’s clearest water

Trapped in the ice

Photo guide to Ireland’s most incredible castles

Sponsored 4

Of course, I would be blatantly lying if I said seeing penguins wasn’t one of the highlights of the trip. Several years before my visit to Antarctica I had been to a zoo that housed penguins, polar bears, and lions - all of which were very far removed from their natural environment and climate. That day I decided it would be the last time I visited a zoo and made a pledge that if I wanted to see wild animals, I would travel to their natural environment. Seeing colonies of tens of thousands of penguins in the wild was infinitely more rewarding than seeing ten of them performing at a ‘penguin parade’ on the concrete streets of a zoo.

5

And what wildly entertaining creatures penguins are! My trip took place in November when these birds were in the nest building phase, trying to find rocks for their new accommodations - and occasionally stealing some fine rocks from their neighbour. We were instructed to keep a safe distance from the penguins in order not to disturb them but the birds weren’t aware of any such restrictions. They would curiously walk close to us to check us out and then went on about their busy lives ignoring us completely.

6

The Antarctic spring was warmer than I had expected but it’s hard to imagine just how resilient these animals need to be to thrive in the ever-changing weather on the coldest, driest, and windiest continent. Our zodiac excursions took us to see some places twice but it was impossible to tell because the weather changed the scenery so drastically. One day the clouds were hanging so low I could nearly touch them from the zodiac and the next day the bright and sunny weather revealed the towering mountains that surrounded us.

7

After a few days of exploring the seventh continent, it was time to navigate our way back to the southernmost town in South America, Ushuaia. Antarctica is said to be once-in-a-lifetime destination but that is just untrue - there is no way to see all that it has to offer on one short visit.

Antarctica: An Intimate Portrait of a Mysterious Continent

Gabrielle Walker

Antarctica is the most alien place on the planet, the only part of the earth where humans could never survive unaided. Out of our fascination with it have come many books, most of which focus on only one aspect of its unique strangeness. None has managed to capture the whole story—until now.Drawing on her broad travels across the continent, in Antarctica Gabrielle Walker weaves all the significant threads of life on the vast ice sheet into an intricate tapestry, illuminating what it really feels like to be there and why it draws so many different kinds of people. With her we witness cutting-edge science experiments, visit the South Pole, lodge with American, Italian, and French researchers, drive snowdozers, drill ice cores, and listen for the message Antarctica is sending us about our future in an age of global warming.This is a thrilling trip to the farthest reaches of earth by one of the best science writers working today.

Antarctica Cruising Guide: Includes Antarctic Peninsula, Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Ross Sea

Peter Carey

Now packed with even more breathtaking color photographs, wildlife descriptions, and detailed area maps, this updated edition to a bestselling Antarctica travel guide includes fascinating, full accounts of interesting places, spectacular landscapes, and local plants and wildlife—from penguins and other birds to whales, seals, and myriad mammals. A definitive field guide to Antarctica, this book caters to South Pole visitors traveling by luxury liner, adventure cruise, or private boat. Written by experienced Antarctic travelers who are recognized experts in the continent's wildlife, conservation, and political history, every page offers gorgeous color photographs of the great white south. This third edition pays special attention to explaining the threats to Antarctic conservation, including global warming, and includes tips on how visitors can minimize their own impact and help preserve this unique continent.

Antarctica Satellite [Tubed] (National Geographic Reference Map)

National Geographic Maps - Reference

A striking view of Antarctica's terrain, compiled from 4,500 satellite scans. Additional inset maps show surface elevation, ice sheet thickness, velocity of ice flow, and sea ice movement and windflow.

The map is packaged in a two inch diamater clear plastic tube. The tube has a decorative label showing a thumbnail of the map with dimensions and other pertinent information.

Map Scale = 1:9,200,000Sheet Size = 31.25" x 20.25"

Lonely Planet Antarctica (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet Antarctica is your passport to all the most relevant and up-to-date advice on what to see, what to skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Spot penguins tobogganing along the ice, venture to the geographic South Pole, or cruise between the towering cliffs and looming icebergs of Lemaire Channel; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Antarctica and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet Antarctica Travel Guide:

Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries show you the simplest way to tailor your trip to your own personal needs and interests Insider tips save you time and money and help you get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - including hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, and prices Honest reviews for all budgets - including eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, and hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer and more rewarding travel experience - including history, expeditions, aviators, environment, politics, geology, ecosystems, and wildlife Over 18 maps Useful features - including Top Experiences, Planning Your Antarctic Adventure, and Icebergs & Glaciers Coverage of the South Pole, the Antarctic Peninsula, Ross Ice Shelf, Lemaire Channel, Deception Island, Cuverville Island, Cape Royds, Cape Denison, Cape Evans, Port Lockroy, Paradise Harbor, and more

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet and Alexis Averbuck.

About Lonely Planet: Started in 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel guide publisher with guidebooks to every destination on the planet, as well as an award-winning website, a suite of mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet's mission is to enable curious travellers to experience the world and to truly get to the heart of the places they find themselves in.

TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Awards 2012 and 2013 winner in Favorite Travel Guide category

'Lonely Planet guides are, quite simply, like no other.' - New York Times

'Lonely Planet. It's on everyone's bookshelves; it's in every traveller's hands. It's on mobile phones. It's on the Internet. It's everywhere, and it's telling entire generations of people how to travel the world.' - Fairfax Media (Australia)

Antarctica: A Biography

David Day

Since the first sailing ships spied the Antarctic coastline in 1820, the frozen continent has captured the world's imagination. David Day's brilliant biography of Antarctica describes in fascinating detail every aspect of this vast land's history--two centuries of exploration, scientific investigation, and contentious geopolitics. Drawing from archives from around the world, Day provides a sweeping, large-scale history of Antarctica. Focusing on the dynamic personalities drawn to this unconquered land, the book offers an engaging collective biography of explorers and scientists battling the elements in the most hostile place on earth. We see intrepid sea captains picking their way past icebergs and pushing to the edge of the shifting pack ice, sanguinary sealers and whalers drawn south to exploit "the Penguin El Dorado," famed nineteenth-century explorers like Scott and Amundson in their highly publicized race to the South Pole, and aviators like Clarence Ellsworth and Richard Byrd, flying over great stretches of undiscovered land. Yet Antarctica is also the story of nations seeking to incorporate the Antarctic into their national narratives and to claim its frozen wastes as their own. As Day shows, in a place as remote as Antarctica, claiming land was not just about seeing a place for the first time, or raising a flag over it; it was about mapping and naming and, more generally, knowing its geographic and natural features. And ultimately, after a little-known decision by FDR to colonize Antarctica, claiming territory meant establishing full-time bases on the White Continent. The end of the Second World War would see one last scramble for polar territory, but the onset of the International Geophysical Year in 1957 would launch a cooperative effort to establish scientific bases across the continent. And with the Antarctic Treaty, science was in the ascendant, and cooperation rather than competition was the new watchword on the ice. Tracing history from the first sighting of land up to the present day, Antarctica is a fascinating exploration of this deeply alluring land and man's struggle to claim it.

Alone on the Ice: The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration

David Roberts

“An important missing story from the heroic age of Antarctic exploration.”―Laurence Gonzales, author of Deep Survival

On January 17, 1913, alone and near starvation, Douglas Mawson, leader of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, was hauling a sledge to get back to base camp. The dogs were gone. Now Mawson himself plunged through a snow bridge, dangling over an abyss by the sledge harness. A line of poetry gave him the will to haul himself back to the surface. Mawson was sometimes reduced to crawling, and one night he discovered that the soles of his feet had completely detached from the flesh beneath. On February 8, when he staggered back to base, his features unrecognizably skeletal, the first teammate to reach him blurted out, “Which one are you?” This thrilling and almost unbelievable account establishes Mawson in his rightful place as one of the greatest polar explorers and expedition leaders. It is illustrated by a trove of Frank Hurley’s famous Antarctic photographs, many never before published in the United States. 24 pages of illustrations

Big Dead Place: Inside the Strange and Menacing World of Antarctica

Nicholas Johnson

Johnson’s savagely funny [book] is a grunt’s-eye view of fear and loathing, arrogance and insanity in a dysfunctional, dystopian closed community. It’s like M*A*S*H on ice, a bleak, black comedy.”—The Times of London

Antarctica: A Guide To The Wildlife (Bradt Guides)

Tony Soper

Antarctica continues to be one of the most lusted-after destinations on the planet. Visitors will see massive tabular icebergs newly breaking from continental ice shelves – as well as a cornucopia of penguins, great whales and albatrosses. This updated edition of the guide provides full coverage of identification, breeding, feeding and the best locations to observe the varied species. Dafila Scott's illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to naturalist Tony Soper's immaculate text. Updated throughout, this edition is the most practical pocket wildlife guide to the region.

 

'Here, at last, is the book we have been waiting for.' - Sir David Attenborough 

Exercise normal security precautions

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

There are no telephone or other communication services in Antarctica. Satellite telephone and postal facilities exist only at established research stations. It would be very difficult to obtain outside assistance in the event of an emergency.

Research stations and scientific expeditions are fully dedicated to scientific research and, with rare exceptions, have no capacity to provide support of any kind to tourists or casual travellers. Independent travellers must be fully self-sufficient from the time that they leave the departure country until their return.

Other than a privately run base on the interior ice that caters to mountaineering-type expeditions, there are no tourist facilities on land. Various tourism companies can arrange excursions to the continent. The International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) publishes a list of its members, which is available at:

IAATO Secretariat
11 South Angell Street, Box 302, Providence, RI 02906, U.S.A.
Tel.: 401-272-2152
Fax: 401 272 2154
Email: iaato@iaato.org
Website: www.iaato.org

Any travel that is not part of an international scientific expedition or organized through a recognized tour operator is strongly discouraged because of its potential harmful impact on the environment and the lack of emergency facilities.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Antarctica. When in doubt, remember…boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!


Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in Antarctica, certain insects may carry and spread diseases.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.


Malaria

Malaria

There is no risk of malaria in this country.


Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with all animals as certain infections can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds and the flu.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

There are no organized or stand-by search and rescue or emergency evacuation facilities in Antarctica. Costs for search and rescue (or for the evacuation of private parties) will generally be charged to the party. 

Ensure that you have equipment and clothing that meet Antarctic standards.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

The Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty on Environmental Protection (Madrid Protocol), adopted in 1991 by the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties, designates Antarctica as a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science. Several areas have ecological, scientific, historical or other value and are afforded special protection. It is forbidden to bring any non-native species into Antarctica. This includes poultry, pet dogs, pet cats and household plants. It is also prohibited to take or harmfully interfere with Antarctic wildlife except in accordance with a permit issued by a national authority.

The Madrid Protocol came into force in 1998 and was ratified by 30 countries. Under the Madrid Protocol, parties are required to regulate the activities of expeditions organized in or proceeding from their territory to the Antarctic, as well as the activities of their vessels, aircraft and Antarctic stations.

Canada ratified the Madrid Protocol in December 2003, and developed the Antarctic Environmental Protection Act and its supporting regulation to implement the Protocol in Canada. In so doing, the Canadian government oversees the activities of its citizens in the Antarctic, and provides the means to address potential future environmental risks in the Antarctic.

Climate

Antarctica is the coldest, driest, highest (on average) and windiest continent, with 99 percent of its area covered by a permanent ice sheet. Weather conditions are severe and can vary.