“We had seen God in His splendours, heard the text that Nature renders. We had reached the naked soul of man,” wrote explorer Ernest Shackleton during his final trip across Antarctica. This polar region, so far from permanent inhabitation or civilisation, is on the must-visit list for all true travellers.
Based on my own visit to Antarctica, I wanted to share with you some travel tips for one of my favourite trips.
The best time to visit Antarctica is during the summer months in the Southern Hemisphere: late October to March, when days and temperatures are at their best and the winter ice has broken up to allow passage to the Antarctic Peninsula.
Within this short season, there are other variations that could influence your visit.
If you are drawn towards the dramatic views of the great white continent, then early on in the season is best for you.
Mid-season, from November to December sees the longest days and the return of some of the Antarctic animals. This is when the light is brightest, and the continent is warming for the summer. Animals such as humpback whales and different bird species return to the area. From mid-December, the first penguin chicks begin to hatch.
In the last months of the summer, January to February, the ice is starting to melt and animals such as penguins and fur seals can be seen on the beach.
By March, it is starting to get cold however it’s an ideal time for whale watching.
My top five activities in Antarctica
There are no direct flights to Antarctica and for recreational visitors, it is only accessible via a cruise. Most cruises start either in the city of Ushuaia (Argentina) or Punta Arenas (Chile).
Don’t forget that during the Antarctic summer months temperatures can be above freezing. So, as well as your warm weather clothing, I recommend taking multiple layers that can be added or removed as required. No matter how cold it is outside, the boat is always kept warm and you’re likely to want lightweight wear for your time onboard.
Waterproofs will also be required for shore landings. I would suggest one heavy duty pair and one that slips easily over your walking attire.
You must be sure to check that your policy covers travel in Antarctica, paying particular attention to the level of cover for emergency evacuation and trip cancellation.
Isolation and remoteness are not to be underestimated in Antarctica and you must ensure that you are covered for emergency evacuations from land.
Places are limited on all cruises, in particular, if you are wanting to undertake any of the activities such as camping or kayaking. A year in advance is the normal look ahead time. Generally, by booking more than a year in advance you can find good discount prices.
Expedition staff are there to make sure you get the most out of the experience whilst protecting the landscape and wildlife. Don’t deviate from the route they’ve marked as it’s for your safety and the safety of the beautiful world of Antarctica.
You may not return to this once in a lifetime destination and this is not the place to run out of batteries.
For my trip, I made sure to take a digital camera, a go pro device and my phone, as well as multiple memory sticks an ample battery power. For my dream holiday, I was not taking any chances with my devices or storage. and despite having no photography training I returned home with an impressive account of my trip in pictures.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog on Antarctica. As someone who has spent time on the seventh continent, I always take joy in passing on my knowledge of extraordinariness of the region.
Images courtesy from One Ocean Expeditions & Polar Latitudes