Antarctica, the southernmost continent and site of the South Pole, is a virtually uninhabited, ice-covered landmass. An international treaty signed by 46 countries, representing the large majority of the world’s population, governs Antarctica. The continent, the treaty parties concur, is too large and important to belong to just one country. They further agree that Antarctica, unique among the world’s landmasses, should remain a peaceful, free and demilitarized place of international cooperation and scientific research, open to all, with a minimum of human development. Most cruises to the continent visit the Antarctic Peninsula, which stretches toward South America. It’s known for the Lemaire Channel and Paradise Harbor, striking, iceberg-flanked passageways, and Port Lockroy, a former British research station turned museum. The peninsula’s isolated terrain also shelters rich wildlife, including many penguins.
Popular Things To Do:
- Admire the wildlife! Be at arm’s length from penguins. See seals, whales & many species of birds.
- Swim in the warm waters of Deception Bay in a caldera of a volcano.
- Take a zodiac cruise, going inside some of the smaller passages to see icebergs up close.
- Send a postcard from the southernmost post office in the world at Port Lockroy.
- Kayak and camp.
Lemaire Channel – There aren’t many places in the world like the Lemaire Channel. Due to shifting winds the channel may be blocked by icebergs but if you get the chance to see it your life will change forever. Snow capped mountains reflecting off the calm waters of the Antarctic will give you some of the best pictures on your trip.
Ross Island – Since both New Zealand and the US have their principal Antarctic stations on Ross Island, in summer it becomes a hub of activity, with science groups passing through on their way to field camps all over this side of the continent, and to the South Pole. It’s also the location of three famous historic huts, Mt Erebus and several penguin rookeries.
Antarctic Peninsula – The most accessible part of the continent, the beautiful Antarctic Peninsula extends a welcoming arm north toward South America’s Tierra del Fuego as if beckoning visitors. The warmest part of the continent (facetiously called the ‘Banana Belt’) is Antarctica’s major breeding ground for seabirds, seals and penguins. With its dramatic landscapes of steep snow-covered peaks often plunging straight into the sea, and with narrow iceberg-studded channels weaving between countless islands and the mountainous mainland, the Peninsula also offers some of Antarctica’s most stunning scenery.
Stanley, Falkland Islands – The Falklands’ capital is little more than a village. Despite rapid growth since 1982, the old part of town retains its colorful charm. Bricks were expensive to ship and difficult to make locally, while the local stone proved tricky to quarry, so Stanley’s builders used timber from shipwrecks, metal cladding and corrugated iron for walls as well as roofs, and then painted all of it in bright hues. Flower-bedecked gardens and patriotic flags add to the vivid colors, which contrast with the surrounding moorlands. The old pubs are reminders that some Falkland traditions remain unchanged. Stanley’s picturesque and compact layout makes it an excellent place to explore on foot. The old shipwrecks along the waterfront provide interest on a harborside stroll. With more time, you can climb to the high points around the harbor, which were the scene of fierce fighting in the closing days of the Falklands War.