Things to do in Antarctica
There’s a myriad of things to do in Antarctica among its many popular destinations, especially in the spirit of exploration. While on an Antarctica Cruise, plenty of activities are offered such as stargazing, island hopping, kayaking, whale watching, and more. Embark on an expedition and see the top sights in Antarctica. There is so much to do on Antarctica tours, you’ll never be bored!
In Antarctica, there are a few things you can do that are optional on some cruise ships, like snowshoeing, kayaking, glamping overnight on the continent, helicopter rides, and doing the polar plunge (jumping into the ice-cold ocean!). You generally have to sign-up for these activities early as they have limited spots, so speak with your travel consultant while you are choosing a ship.
Antarctica Travel Expert
Best Things to Do in Antarctica:
Go camping in Antarctica
On some Antarctic cruises you’ll get the chance to sleep out for a night on the Antarctic continent in a tent or a bivouac bag. It’s not as cold as it might sound and is certainly a unique experience. Mostly you’ll hear complete silence, but you might catch the noise of whale blows or penguin calls. The sun hardly drops below the horizon during the peak summer months. You’ll return to the ship in the morning for a welcome hot breakfast!
Island Hop via Cruise!
Antarctica has an abundance of islands ideal for those who wish to explore. As they are the most popular destinations they are a great place to start planning our journey. On Antarctica Cruises Deception Island, South Shetland Island, Elephant Island, King George Island and more are built into your route. These islands provide visitors with sights of rare animals native to the continent. Each island hosts its own thriving wildlife, history, and various penguin or seal colonies, so let’s go island hopping!
Be Daring & Take a Polar Plunge!
On many cruises, the polar plunge is an activity that is offered, but only for the daring! Usually, the polar plunge is scheduled once during each voyage. This is where passengers can opt to jump into the freezing waters of Antarctica. To be safe, an expert expedition leader always monitors the conditions to deem whether a polar plunge is permitted.
Kayak around Grand Ice Sculptures
Kayaking is one of the most popular activities in Antarctica. Imagine being able to reach down and touch the icy water and get up close to the grand ice sculptures. Guests often and see marine life like whales just inches away from you. Kayaking is also a great way to stay active while on an Antarctica vacation and some of the best whale watching on the planet. It’s the perfect way to see some of the highlights of this southernmost continent up close!
Enjoy Whale Watching
In March, whale watching is at its finest in Antarctica. You can enjoy this via kayak, or from the comforts of your expedition ship. And, there isn’t just one type of whale you can spot. In these icy waters swim Blue whales, Humpback whales, Minke whales, Killer whales, Sei whales, Southern right whales, and Sperm whales.
Say Hello to the Penguins!
Just as there are a plethora of whales, there are quite a few species of penguins in Antarctica. One can spot the Emperor penguin, the Chinstrap penguin, the King Penguin, and more! The island you’re visiting will in some cases determine the type of penguin you see. For example, on the Falkland Islands, explorers will most likely be able to spot the Magellanic penguin or the Southern rockhopper penguin.
Learn the Continents History on Educational Lectures
Aboard every cruise ship, there will be expert local guides and natural scientists who will give small informational lectures on the Antarctic water, terrain, and wildlife. These are usually given before travelers leave for daily excursions. This way, one can learn about the history of the area and then see it live.
Explore the City of Ushuaia
As one of the closest cities to the seventh continent, many visitors stop through Ushuaia before their big adventure. Enjoy the world’s last modern conveniences, strolling through the quaint city streets, admiring views over the impressive, ice-filled bay, and appreciating local artwork along the waterfront. Feeling adventurous? Take a scuba diving tour through the Beagle Channel and search for marine life, including leopard seals and giant crabs.
Traverse the Moody Drake Passage
While on a cruise to Antarctica, cross the world’s most dangerous waters, the Drake Passage, the route that in the 16th and 17th centuries were infamous to sailors. Today, the Passage is easily traversed by modern cruises, but the adventure remains a memorable one. During this journey, you will receive multiple educational seminars as well, discussing everything from geography to the flora and fauna that you’re about to explore.
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Things to See in Antarctica
The best things to see in Antarctica are the incredible, free-roaming wildlife and the grand ice sculptures that make up the icy waters. However, one might not know that there are plenty of other neat structures found on the surrounding islands that are worth visiting. Antarctica has many top attractions for tourists and explorers.
Lemaire Channel is a very scenic channel between Kiev Peninsula and the mainland’s Graham Land and Booth Island. Here rest old abandoned bases like the British Base W on Detaille Island and the Southernmost Bar in the World at Vernadsky Station.
The glaciers of Antarctica can reach the size of entire countries. These majestic landmarks, such us the Ross Ice Shelf, not only provide spectacular views but are essential formations for the planet. As hotbeds for ecosystems and habitats of species from seals and walrus’ to the occasional Polar bear, glaciers are a crucial part of visiting Antarctica.
Part of the winter wonderland landscape of Antarctica are the grand icebergs. Icebergs are sculpted out of freshwater ice and can be part of a glacier. Throughout the months of the year, one can see icebergs floating in the seas around Antarctica. They may also change to different shades of blue making them an even more beautiful sight.
You’re rare to find more unique wildlife viewing than in Antarctica, with a plethora of species like the penguin, seals, sea elephants, sea birds and whales inhabiting the area. Any tour through Antarctica will be centered around the impressive nature all around. Visitors can walk on glaciers, get close to island sized icebergs, and even kayak in the freezing waters of Antarctica in order to get near the rare wildlife of the region.
Birdwatching in Antarctica
Besides the obvious penguin and whale sight-seeing in Antarctica, there is a variety of birds that can be seen here as well. Look for the Wandering Albatross and Giant Petrels from the deck of the cruise ship. They might even try and hitch a ride with you by sitting atop the stern of the vessel.
Goudier Island, the location of Port Lockroy, was founded by the French after its discovery in 1904. Originally serving as a whaling port, the island transitioned into a research center post World War II, after the land was passed to the British. Though the research center is closed now, the port remains a significant educational center and tourist destination for the United Kingdom, hosting a museum in the old research center. Additionally, the southernmost post office in the world can be found here, providing visitors with the unique chance of mailing a letter back home all the way from Antarctica.
King George Island
With flights connecting from Punta Arenas, Chile, for many King George Island serves as the first taste of life in Antarctica. The dramatic landscape of the island features three incredible fjords, various species of seals and penguins, and the picturesque Bellingshausen Station. The Bellingshausen Station, while popular for its quaint appearance, was founded by the Russians during their Soviet Antarctic expedition in the 1960s. Additionally, while exploring the dramatic, fog-capped shores, you may even spot old whale skeletons that have washed up over the years; absolutely eerie and exotic.
Deception Island – Learn the History of Whaling and Research
It’s the caldera of an active volcano and considered one of the safer ports in Antarctica because of its seclusion from the ice and winds. Today there are a few research sites but that’s not the main attraction for visitors. In the early 1900s, the whaling industry built structures here which were later taken over as research stations. Due to many volcanic eruptions over sixty years ago some research sites were abandoned and have been since. Today Deception island’s history is visible as old whale skeletons, abandoned buildings, and blackened volcanic sand. This is by far one of Antarctica’s most incredible sights.
Festivals / Events
- Ice Stock Music Festival
- Antarctic Ice Marathon
Food & Drink in Antarctica
Antarctica has some very delicious food and drink. Try some of the regional favorites that were eaten by explorers back in the 1800s, such as Pemmican, a concentrated mixture of dried meat and fat, Bannock, a fried dough to help combat the cold weather, and Hoosh, a mixture of Pemmican and bread and biscuits. For something sweet, indulge in the chocolate in Antarctica. It’s the perfect feel-good dessert after a long day of exploring.
One of the local delicacies is the Ukrainian Vodka, distilled at Vernadsky Station. On some cruises, guides will bring ice on board that is thousands of years old that you can use for a vodka cocktail or drink of your choice. Also, note that now cruise ships are equipped for any type of dietary restrictions.
Is Antarctica Safe?
Yes, Antarctica is safe. Typically, travelers will visit Antarctica by cruise. Antarctica cruises have phenomenal safety standards and records. However, there will still be safety drills performed aboard so that every passenger is knowledgeable on how to stay safe in Antarctica.
Best time to Visit Antarctica
The best time to visit Antarctica is from December to February when there is plenty of daylight and the cruise vessel is able to sail to places that would normally be blocked by grand ice sculptures and sea ice.
What is Antarctica Famous for?
Antarctica is famous for its icy terrain – it contains 90 percent of all the ice on Earth! Antarctica is also famous for its wildlife, penguins and whales, and its unique climate and weather.
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