Antarctica considered by many as one of the last pristine regions on the Earth, and the most inhospitable. It offers the adventurous traveler the world’s most magnificent wilderness, abundant concentrations of wildlife, icebergs sculpted by the sea, oceans covered by pack ice, mountains, and vast snow covered plains, mammoth glaciers, and other breathtaking scenery.
The southern ocean surrounding Antarctica has a profusion of wildlife that thrives in its nutrient-rich waters. In the icy cold sea are blue, humpback, minke, southern right, and sei whales. Seabirds are also in abundance, from albatross to shearwaters, petrels, skuas, and gulls. Several species of true and fur seals live there, sea lions, and tens of thousands of penguins await you.
Stored in the ancient polar icecap are ice cores that hold answers to the world’s past and possible future climate. The Antarctic continent has been bombarded by meteorites some from the Moon and even Mars. These hold secrets from our universe. For example inside one of the Martian meteorites, scientists have discovered evidence suggesting that life may once have flourished on Mars.
But this is not a vacation for the faint of heart. You will join expeditions landing in Zodiacs on uninhabited frozen beaches. You will cruise amid ice floes and icebergs. From your tiny rubber boat you will quietly watch the antics of penguins, whales, seals, and birds. Some days you will take short hikes, on a snow covered world that will give you a unique and priceless feeling of discovery.
Some tours offer informative lectures and briefings on the geology, history of Antarctic exploration, marine mammals, ornithology, and other topics. Educators often have vast experience with the Polar Regions and are able to introduce many aspects of science during lectures, field outings, and informal discussions.
Antarctica is not easy to get too. A route from San Francisco might include Florida and Buenos Aires in Argentina. Most tours will depart from Ushuaia at the southernmost tip of South America. From here the only means of transportation is by ship.
In my next article we will leave the known world behind us, come and join me.
Exploring Antarctica is truly a trip of a lifetime.
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