South America and Antarctica hold a special place in my heart. During my 12 years living in Chile many different modes of travel to these amazing places became available. The most popular mode is by cruise with good reason. There is no way to get up close and personal with the great white continent like on an expedition cruise. No one does luxury expedition cruises like Ponant. In their recent Escales Magazine article they shared 5 reasons to go to Antarctica at least once in your life. Keep reading to discover these 5 reasons.
The private hunting ground of whalers and sealers during the 19th century, then inaccessible except to explorers and researchers as lucky as they were brave, the Antarctic Peninsula is now opening up, showing its secrets and wonders to those who dare to throw caution to the wind. Here are 5 great reasons to humbly and respectfully visit this fascinating land of peace and freedom.
To experience a waking dream…Going to Antarctica means heading off into the unknown, setting sail for a long journey to the very end of the ends of the earth. It means testing your limits by going beyond the Tierra del Fuego, beyond Ushuaia, the southernmost inhabited place on the planet. It means leaving humanity behind to visit an incredible destination whose expressive power alone is enough to amaze you and fill you with wonder before you even get there... before you even set off.
To retrace the steps of great explorers...Those of Sir Ernest Shackleton, the British explorer buried in Grytviken, a former whaling station in South Georgia. Those of Captain Jean-Baptiste Charcot, another pioneer of polar exploration: from Port Lockroy to Marguerite Bay via Pléneau Island and Port Charcot, where the remains of the French explorer’s first winter base can be found. Or those of Belgian Adrien de Gerlache, in Neko Harbour. Not forgetting crossing Drake Passage, so named in honour of the English privateer and adventurer, Sir Francis Drake.
To feel like the only person in the world…Setting foot on the remote frozen lands of the Antarctic Peninsula is like landing on another planet. No doubt you may initially be thrown off balance, braving the polar cold and suddenly being confronted with the vast emptiness. But, gradually, the pure and mysterious, almost supernatural, atmosphere of this “intact” world which long remained inaccessible becomes intoxicating. Some people would argue it’s a mystical or spiritual experience. A one-on-one with the elements. With yourself. “He who has successfully infiltrated these parts, feels his soul soar”, wrote Jean-Baptiste Charcot.
… and incredibly small...Past the meadows of South Georgia and the Falkland Islands, make way for the spectacular and all-powerful nature of the “white continent”. In front of you, no plants or trees, but white islands with outcropping rocks. All against a backdrop of the imposing Antarctandes mountain range. From the deck of the ship or during Zodiac® outings, the spectacle is breath-taking: between the vast drifting masses of ice in Wilhelmina Bay, the black sand of the volcanic beaches of Deception Island, a former whaler base, the tabular icebergs of the Weddell Sea and crossing Lemaire Channel, surrounded by glaciers. A humbling experience!
o get close to incredible wild fauna…The secret to the fauna in Antarctica? The krill. The waters surrounding the peninsula are teeming with them. More than enough to satisfy the fauna which includes humpback whales, minke whales, elephant seals, fur seals and penguins, the icons of these polar regions. Supervised by a team of naturalist guides, you’ll encounter various species of penguin: Adélie, King, Chinstrap and Gentoo. And, because in Antarctica the present is often precious, it’ll be a question of not missing a herd of leopard seals basking on the sea ice, a gift from nature which is as unpredictable as it is priceless.
Are you feeling the need to explore Antarctica? Contact us and we can help make that dream a reality.