10 Reasons to visit Antarctica
If the thought of an Antarctic cruise holiday makes your teeth chatter, you might be surprised to know that, during the November-to-March season, temperatures usually range between twenty degrees and forty-five degrees Fahrenheit. Highs in the fifties are not uncommon. As a rule, the Falkland Islands are a bit warmer, with average highs in the fifties and lows in the forties to high thirties. Weather on South Georgia Island is harder to predict. Its rugged topography makes for highly changeable weather patterns, with dull rain followed by fine sunny days. Tie your hat on! Sudden, intense katabatic winds and short-lived squalls known locally as "williwaws" are a fact of life on South Georgia.
What will you see on your Antarctic journey? Sights change rapidly during the austral summer season. Local flora and fauna must pack a lot of living into these few warm months, so each cruise departure is, in effect, travelling to a different Antarctica, Falklands, or South Georgia Island. November to early December offers the spectacular courtship rituals of penguins and seabirds, wildflowers on the Falklands and South Georgia, and the highest level of research activity. Mid-December to January see the emergence of penguin chicks and seal pups, escalating whale sightings, and longer days creating incredible light conditions for photography. February to March bring whale sightings at their best, blooming snow algae, and increasingly numerous fur seals on the Antarctic Peninsula.
Though it isn't a passive destination, rest assured that travel to the Deep South doesn't require great physical exertion or feats of special fitness.
Two of the 17 species of penguins solely reside in the White Continent, the Emperor Penguins and the Adelie Penguins and like their regal name; these tuxedoed gentlemen rule the country with their goofy mating rituals and silly antics. With up to 250,000 of them gathering in one breeding area, there is no shortage of non-feathered friends to observe.
Whether you want to admire the ice formations from afar or scale them, grab your crampons and an ice pick and get mountaineering. Ice in the Arctic and Antarctic is thicker, taller, heavier and older than anywhere else on Earth and the billowing statues change so much you will never encounter the same design twice. But don’t be fooled, even with all the ice and frozen tundra, Antarctica is still classified as a desert climate.
Under the Sea
Often overlooked, Antarctica's undersea is an environment even more amazing than what resides on the surface. Described by oceanographers as a “"riot of life," species exist in the depths of the Antarctic Ocean that exist nowhere else on earth. Researchers discovered new kinds of crabs, an albino octopus, and alien fish species.
At least ten species of whales, six species of seals and three breeds of dolphins have been spotted in the Antarctic Ocean. These whales include humpback (the most common), minke, right, blue, sei, finback, orca, pilot, sperm, and southern bottle-nosed. The largest mammals on the planet, catch these magnificent creatures as they travel alone or in pods.
A mud map is an old Australian saying which means unexplored and uncharted territory. Back in the day, early explorers used to draw directions and compasses in the dirt to provide guidance to other travelers. While you won’t be left to wander on your own, small group guides can take you off-the-beaten-path to discover the secrets of the White continent.
There are few things in the world that measure up to kayaking the frozen scenery of a quiet Antarctic cove. Paddle amongst the fjords and icebergs to come face to face with whales, penguins and seals in their natural habitat.
Only 43 species of birds breed south of the Antarctic Convergence, nearly all of them seabirds. Whether you’re a notice birder or a pro, head south to see colors, wings and feathers found nowhere else in the world. While penguins represent half the population of all the birds in Antarctica and rule the land, there are plenty of airborne species like the cormorant, albatross, skua, gull and tern that reign over the skies.
24 Hours of Sun
Antarctica is accessible only in the summer season from November to March wgeb sea ice melts enough to allow access. During this time, temperatures can get up to 57°F and there are twenty-four hours of daylight, as opposed to the twenty-four hours of darkness in the foreboding winter. What would you do at night with a sun that never sets, besides bring a sleep mask?
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