We all have our favorite vacation destinations—the places we enjoy returning to again and again; not only because they are great places to visit, they’re also relatively easy to reach—Hawaii, Mexico, North America and Europe (your travel times may vary). You’re probably thinking about your favorite repeat vacation spot right now.
But what’s the one place that you want to see that, odds are, you’ll only see once in your lifetime? What’s your bucket list location? Think on that a bit, and if nothing comes to mind, you should really consider visiting the Antarctic. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip that will put you in a relatively rarified company of travelers, and you’ll have amazing experiences and see extraordinary landscapes in an incredible setting: icebergs, glaciers, mountains that look like they were sculpted by madmen. You’ll marvel at how life manages to thrive in one of the most inhospitable places on earth, as whales, seals, penguins, and seabirds surround as you follow in the footsteps of intrepid explorers like Sir Ernest Shackleton.
Let’s have a little refresher course on Antarctica: it’s the southernmost continent and is home to – you guessed it – the South Pole. It covers about 4.5 million square miles, but don’t worry— only a fraction of it is open for –or desirable—for tourism.
Antarctica also has the coldest climate on earth—right now it’s around -70 degrees Fahrenheit. But it’s also winter there, so you’ll want to visit during Antarctica’s very brief astral summer season, which runs from the end of November through March. That’s when you’ll experience relatively balmy temps of -18 degree weather. Leave that swimsuit and sunscreen at home.
The best way to see Antarctica is by ship. Actually, as a tourist, it’s pretty much the only way. First you’ll make your way to Buenos Aires, Argentina, your embarkation point. If you have the time, plan to spend a few days either pre- or post-cruise to explore this amazing city, but don’t lose sight of why you’re down here: to make it all the way to the bottom of the world.
Plan on spending at least 15 nights on your Antarctic cruise—there’s a lot of ground (and ocean) to cover, and a lot of things to see. Throughout your journey, you can visit widely diverse locations. As you pass through the Lemaire Channel, its breathtaking beauty one of the most popular photography locations in Antarctica. Or visit Deception Island, a former whaling station and current active volcano. Old oil drums, spooky boilers and whale skeletons combine to create a spooky atmosphere.
During your trip, there are many ways to get up close and personal with the unique environment—hiking, canoeing, camping, whale watching, even Zodiac tours. For fun, you can mail postcards from Port Lockroy, at the bottom of the world, to your loved ones at home. And for the truly hardy, try taking a polar plunge into the icy waters.
An Antarctic vacation is truly a rugged adventure. It’s definitely not a day at the beach—It’s cold, windy, and sometimes rough weather can make for rough sailing. But if you persevere, your reward is a life-changing experience that will remain vivid in your mind, even when you’re safely back again at one of your regular vacation destinations.
Call our office early – at least 1 year ahead – to take the ‘early bird’ discount! Yumiko has booked her trip 18 months ahead!