Top 8 Reasons to Visit Antarctica
I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to travel to Antarctica in 2019. My itinerary included a 12-day cruise departing from the southernmost town in Argentina called Ushuaia, with an official slogan “fin del Mundo” meaning “end of the world” in Spanish. Taking a cruise to Antarctica is the most popular method for people to visit the country. Today, I’m giving you my top 8 reasons to visit Antarctica.
As I was counting down the days to my departure and telling my friends about this trip, the most common question I got asked was “what are you going to when you visit Antarctica?” To be completely honest, I wasn’t really sure how to answer that question. All I knew about Antarctica back then was that it was the least traveled to places on earth, there were icebergs and penguins, and that it was the last continent to cross off my travel list.
This turned out to be the best trip I have ever taken. Over the 12 days, I saw amazing natural wonders, experienced a lot of wildlife, and met plenty of awesome people. After experiencing the beauty of the 7th continent, I truly believe it is somewhere that everybody should go if they have the opportunity.
Still not convinced? Well, here are my top reasons to visit Antarctica via an Antarctican cruise.
#1. See the Most Untouched Part of the World
As travel is becoming more and more affordable every year, and people are starting to learn more about popular destinations around the world through social media, the most beautiful places these days are packed with tourists walking around with selfie-sticks. Tourists who don’t really care about the beauty or the history of the place, and are just there to take an Instagram worthy picture to share with their friends.
Fortunately, the cruise to Antarctica is still pretty difficult and quite expensive. The cheapest ticket for an Antarctica cruise usually runs around $6000, and in addition to that, you have to spend 2 days crossing the Drake Passage, which is known to have the choppiest waters in the world. As you can imagine, only a small percentage of people are willing to make that commitment. Even though the number of tourists to Antarctica has risen significantly in the last few years, only 45,000 people visited the continent in 2018-2019.
But what lies beyond the expensive cruise tickets and the 2 days of choppy waters is one of the most beautiful, unique, and untouched places on our planet. There are gorgeous views in every direction, the sunrise and sunsets are unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and the ocean is so calm that even a cruise ship can barely create a ripple in the water. Antarctica feels closer to a different planet than any country I’ve visited in the past.
#2. Meet Some Amazing World Travelers
The cruises to Antarctica are much smaller than the typical Carnival or Norwegian cruises and they do not have any shows or swimming pools to keep you entertained. Without distractions and Wi-Fi, you get a lot of time to interact with other passengers and crew members. The Antarctica cruise I took only had 100 passengers and 40 crew members. Over the 12 days on the cruise, I got to interact with pretty much every passenger and crew member, learn their stories, and make some great friends. By the time the cruise ended, it felt like we were all a big family.
As Antarctica is not the first destination on most people’s list and requires some serious commitment, the people you meet on the cruise tend to be some seasoned travelers. I met a few people on the cruise that had traveled to over 100 countries, people that had plans to travel for a whole year, and people who were working their jobs remotely. In fact, it was these people that inspired me to quit my 9-5 desk job to travel the world and work remotely.
#3. Antarctica Wildlife is Unlike Any Other
Most people travel to Antarctica for its unique wildlife and it does not disappoint. The continent is home to many different species of Penguins, Whales, Seals, and Giant Seabirds. But the best part is that you get to see them completely raw in their natural habitat. This type of real-life nature experience is world’s away from any zoo I’ve ever visited.
During my trip, we got to experience groups of penguins walking around us totally unbothered by our presence. We also had multiple encounters with humpback whales coming within a few feet of us and saw a pod of over a hundred orcas while we were on the water. We even had a leopard seal trying to swim up to our Zodiac boat. Most notably, we got to experience some real “circle of life” stuff which was equal parts fascinating and horrifying. For example, we watched as a Giant Petrel crashed into a Penguin colony to feast on Penguin while its friends watched it get eaten. We also saw a Leopard Seal catching a Penguin and turning it inside out so it could eat the meaty parts.
If your reason for visiting Antarctica is to watch some wildlife, you won’t be left disappointed.
#4. Antarctica Science and Education
The cruises to Antarctica also tend to be a very educational experience. We had 12 scientists onboard our cruise ships with a variety of backgrounds who were conducting research in Antarctica. Each day, they gave us daily presentations on different topics, took us out on Zodiac boat tours, and even joined us for beers to take a casual deep dive into a particular topic. We also received daily recaps on the different animals that were spotted during the day.
#5. Take a Polar Plunge in Antarctica
Ever swam among Penguins? If jumping into ice-cold waters is your thing, then Antarctica is a place to do a literal “Polar” Plunge.
On our second day in Antarctica, we made a landing at a beach where we were able to run into the water, just as a couple of Penguins swam by us. The water was too cold to spend more than a few seconds in it, but it was definitely a once in a lifetime experience. The crew had towels for us as we got back on the shore and some hot soup back on the cruise to warm us up.
#6. Adventure Activities
Antarctica is also a place where you can do some really unique adventure activities. During my time in Antarctica, we had daily hikes on different islands filled with Penguins and Seals, got the opportunity to Polar Plunge, and drove around in small Zodiac boats chasing Humpback Whales. Our cruise company also offered unique activities such as Kayaking, Mountaineering, Camping, and Scuba Diving.
#7. See it Before it Disappears
One of the main reasons to visit Antarctica sooner rather than later is climate change. Our planet is changing fast due to global warming and just like every other place, Antarctica is also impacted severely. Large chunks of ice shelves have broken off the continent and floated off in the ocean, the sea temperatures are rising, causing the wildlife to travel further south to find cooler temperatures and food. Unfortunately, the whole future of the continent seems to be uncertain. No one knows how long the continent will offer the experience it does today, so now is the time to go visit this beautiful continent.
#8. A Photographer’s Dream
The unique landscapes, the wildlife, the giant icebergs, and the pink skies of Antarctica are unlike anywhere else on this planet, so naturally, this place is perfect for taking some really unique photos. Some of my favorites photos I’ve ever taken are from this Antarctica trip. Photography was one of my main reasons to visit Antarctica and the landscape certainly didn’t disappoint.
If you’re planning to take a trip to Antarctica, I highly recommend getting a good camera with a long zoom lens to get the best phots. Also, remember to bring plenty of memory cards as there will be plenty of opportunities to take some great photos.
I always had the goal to see all seven continents. Before going to Antarctica, I had no idea what I would experience, I just knew I wanted to go. After spending almost two weeks on the beautiful continent, I eagerly recommend this experience to anybody I meet.
While it does take a financial commitment, it is well worth it. If you’re saving up for the trip of a lifetime, I highly recommend Antarctica.