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Antarctica

Antarctica is Earth's coldest and driest continent, and also has the highest average elevation. It is also the southernmost continent, overlying the South Pole. As visits are restricted, expensive and difficult, Antarctica is the only continent to be largely untouched by humans; the population consists of a few thousand scientists. Unlike the Arctic in the north, there is dry land below the ice in Antarctica.

Regions

Offshore Antarctica

Mainland Antarctica

Note: All dots on the map represent inhabited research stations. In the map to the right, the Ross Sea is shown in salmon color.

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 — Unlike its northern cousin, the South Pole sits upon stationary ground, and therefore supports a permanent research station and a ceremonial "pole"
  • 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
  • Macquarie Island

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 most of 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 not claimed by any country. The only other significant piece of dry land with that characteristic is Bir Tawil between Sudan and Egypt. There are no cities, 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, 41,996, visitors traveled to Antarctica in 2017-18, an increase of 16% over the previous year.

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 known 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 adjacent islands. A handful of people have been born on Antarctica, but this has thus far neither resulted in anything approaching a "native born" population, nor any serious demands for "Antarctic independence".

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 in the Arctic.) 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 24 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

While Antarctica has no government or border controls, visitors to any land or sea south of 60°S need permission from an Antarctic Treaty member country. An application should be filed six months in advance.

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. Most flights to Antarctica leave from Christchurch, Cape Town or Punta Arenas. 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:

  • 1 Teniente Rodolfo Marsh Martin Aerodrome (TNM IATA). 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.
  • 2 Williams Field. Serves McMurdo Station and Scott Base.
  • 3 Phoenix Airfield. Replaced the Pegasus Airfield which served McMurdo Station and Scott Base.
  • 4 Annual Sea-Ice Runway. Serves McMurdo Station and Scott Base.
  • 5 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.

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. 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.
  • Antarctica Bound Cruises. A small company offering cruises on most ships cruising the Antarctica Peninsula.
  • 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.
  • Geographic Expeditions. Among GeoEx's popular Antarctica adventure trips is an expedition to the Ross Sea and McMurdo Sound.
  • 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.
  • National Geographic Expeditions. This trip also includes a visit to South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. The site has all the information you'll need for the trip.
  • 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.
  • Polar Cruises. A small company offering trips on most of the ships cruising the Antarctica Peninsula and occasionally the Ross Sea. Great insights into Antarctica cruises and travel to this unique area.
  • 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 for film crews, mountaineers, skiers and snowboarders, sea kayakers, dry suit divers, scientists, sailors of all experience levels, and whale watchers. They typically carry kayaks on board, and offer private charters, and group trips for individuals.

Antarctic stations

One way to get into Antarctica, although difficult, is through the various research stations in which you can join research teams for. Note that this is not a tourism trip, and is only for people who wish to see the beauty of Antarctica and wish to help study & preserve it.

  • 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 (Chile)
  • 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 also 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 mainland, 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 and research bases in Antarctica. Positions are often competitive and may only be open to very qualified candidates.

Induction and training need to be undertaken before departure for Antarctica. Most positions are summer positions, lasting for the northern-hemisphere winter/southern-hemisphere summer while the bases are fully staffed. A few positions are for people who want to "winter over" in the dark, brutally cold Antarctic winter.

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.

In Antarctica, 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. The fact that there is not as much ozone over Antarctica and some of the nearby islands than other regions of the world means that there is not such a strong block against the sun's rays. 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.

Post offices are few and far between, but you can send home a postcard (with a truly unique postmark) from the Chilean town of Villa Las Estrellas or the British base of Port Lockroy, both on islands off the Antarctic Peninsula.

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, 6th: A Guide to the Wildlife (Bradt Travel Guide)

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 

Lonely Planet Antarctica (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet Antarctica is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Get up close and personal with the local penguin populations, cruise the picture-perfect Lemaire Channel, or pay a visit to Ernest Shackleton's eerily preserved hut, 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 help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - history, landscapes, wildlife, environment Over 24 maps Covers 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

About Lonely Planet: Lonely Planet is a leading travel media company and the world's number one travel guidebook brand, providing both inspiring and trustworthy information for every kind of traveller since 1973. Over the past four decades, we've printed over 145 million guidebooks and phrasebooks for 120 languages, and grown a dedicated, passionate global community of travellers. You'll also find our content online, and in mobile apps, video, 14 languages, 12 international magazines, armchair and lifestyle books, ebooks, and more, enabling you to explore every day. Lonely Planet enables the curious to experience the world fully and to truly get to the heart of the places they find themselves, near or far from home.

TripAdvisor Travellers' Choice Awards 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 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 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.

Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

Alfred Lansing

The harrowing tale of British explorer Ernest Shackleton's 1914 attempt to reach the South Pole, one of the greatest adventure stories of the modern age.In August 1914, polar explorer Ernest Shackleton boarded the Endurance and set sail for Antarctica, where he planned to cross the last uncharted continent on foot. In January 1915, after battling its way through a thousand miles of pack ice and only a day's sail short of its destination, the Endurance became locked in an island of ice. Thus began the legendary ordeal of Shackleton and his crew of twenty-seven men.For ten months the ice-moored Endurance drifted northwest before it was finally crushed between two ice floes. With no options left, Shackleton and a skeleton crew attempted a near-impossible journey over 850 miles of the South Atlantic's heaviest seas to the closest outpost of civilization. Their survival, and the survival of the men they left behind, depended on their small lifeboat successfully finding the island of South Georgia--a tiny dot of land in a vast and hostile ocean.In Endurance, the definitive account of Ernest Shackleton's fateful trip, Alfred Lansing brilliantly narrates the harrowing and miraculous voyage that has defined heroism for the modern age.

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.

Antarctica: Secrets of the Southern Continent

David McGonigal

The geology, ecology and biology of the "continent for peace and science."

This comprehensive, fully illustrated and reader-friendly book honors the International Polar Year (2007-08) with a spectacular range of information on Antarctica and the Antarctic Islands, the world's harshest environment.

Antarctica features up-to-date material from an expert team of scientists, expeditioners and historians. Included are more than 600 photographs, illustrations and maps. Among the topics covered are:

Prehistory of Antarctica Geology and geography Flora and fauna Climate and the nature of ice The Antarctic ozone hole The explorers Current scientific research Conservation issues The impact of global warming The Sub-Antarctic Islands.

Detailed information is found on current issues of land, law and treaties, shipping, resource exploitation, and tourism. Also included are the Antarctic Treaty, a gazetteer and a bibliography.

Front-page news reports cover the relative health of Antarctica. This authoritative book could not be timelier.

Antarctica: A Guide to the Wildlife (Bradt Travel Guide)

Tony Soper

Updated throughout, the 7th edition of Bradt's Antarctica: a Guide to Wildlife is the most practical guide to the flora and fauna available for those ‘going south'. Celebrating the amazing and often unique species of this spectacular environment, the title features chapters on the region's famous whales and penguins, and also on lesser known species such as skuas and sheathbills, with full coverage of plumage and identification. Each chapter is accompanied by vibrant illustrations from Dafila Scott to help bring species to life. Tony Soper's immaculate and engaging text remains the indispensible choice for the intrepid wildlife enthusiast.Antarctica's wildlife is under threat. The Southern Ocean is warming and the most obvious effect is on the continental ice shelves. Spectacular retreats and monster carvings from the west coast of the peninsula have been seen in recent decades. Less ice means fewer krill, which depend on the ice-edge for the algae which nourish them. In turn, this will impact on seal and whale numbers. In the case of penguins, while kings and macaronis, for instance, are doing well, the magnificently adapted and truly Antarctic species, Adélies and emperors, are in decline. In the case of emperors, maybe by as much as 50%.Bradt's Antarctica not only helps you to identify and understand species and habitats, it also explains the issues faced by this extraordinary continent, regarded by many as one of the most precious places on the planet.

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)

The Stowaway: A Young Man's Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica

Laurie Gwen Shapiro

The spectacular, true story of a scrappy teenager from New York’s Lower East Side who stowed away on the Roaring Twenties’ most remarkable feat of science and daring: an expedition to Antarctica.It was 1928: a time of illicit booze, of Gatsby and Babe Ruth, of freewheeling fun. The Great War was over and American optimism was higher than the stock market. What better moment to launch an expedition to Antarctica, the planet’s final frontier? There wouldn’t be another encounter with an unknown this magnificent until Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon. Everyone wanted in on the adventure. Rockefellers and Vanderbilts begged to be taken along as mess boys, and newspapers across the globe covered the planning’s every stage. And then, the night before the expedition’s flagship set off, Billy Gawronski—a mischievous, first-generation New York City high schooler desperate to escape a dreary future in the family upholstery business—jumped into the Hudson River and snuck aboard. Could he get away with it? From the soda shops of New York’s Lower East Side to the dance halls of sultry Francophone Tahiti, all the way to Antarctica’s blinding white and deadly freeze, Laurie Gwen Shapiro’s The Stowaway takes you on the unforgettable voyage of a plucky young stowaway who became a Jazz Age celebrity, a mascot for an up-by-your bootstraps era.

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.

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