What to See and Do When You Visit Antarctica

When you decide to visit Antarctica, a visa is not necessary as there is no country that claims it as its territory. However, a passport is needed for unscheduled stops. Generally, your first stop is either in Argentina or Chile. This continent, which practically sits at the end of the earth, is known for its extremely cold conditions. So why bother to go through all the trouble of getting there?

The fact that it is the coldest place on earth and located at the southernmost region is one reason why it is worth visiting. There aren’t too many tourists who have the guts to take a journey to a place as extreme as the Antarctic region, so having the chance to experience its untamed beauty can give you an extra sense of fulfillment.

Even though the continent is known for its extreme weather conditions, there are still a number of things to see and do when you decide to have an Antarctic holiday. For one, you can feast your eyes on some of the most dramatic and breathtaking scenery in the world by taking a cruise or ferry. Again, trips usually depart either from Punta Arenas in Chile or from Ushuaia in Argentina. You can also go for a helicopter ride where you get to take a look at the lovable Antarctic animals such as penguins and albatrosses moving in their natural environment.

Other tourist activities include:

• Looking for a Chocolate Iceberg. Those who are fond of taking pictures of rare subjects would love to see Chocolate Icebergs. They are products of glaciers collecting mud and pulverized rock from the underlying ground, which eventually becomes chocolate-colored ice. The glacier then reaches the ocean and pieces break away, thus forming icebergs. At times, as they form, icebergs turnover, which exposes the previous underside, which may carry the now chocolate-colored ice.

• Taking a dip in the thermal waters on Deception Island. The island is a result of a volcanic eruption, which resulted to the explosion of its peak, leaving a huge crater inside the island.

• Climbing the Observation Hill. It is a 30-minute climb from nearby McMurdo station. It will reward you with breathtaking views of Mount Erebus and the Ross Ice Shelf. Also found in this spot is the Memorial Cross erected in honor of Captain RF Scott and his polar party.

• Postcard sending from Port Lockroy, the sole post office in Antarctica. It used to be a British station, but it is now a museum to early Antarctic exploration.

• Whale watching. Watch how these giants move gracefully through the water. At least six baleen whales can be found in the Antarctic waters: Blue, Humpback, Minke, Sei, Fin, and Southern Right Whale.

• Stargazing. Be your own astronomer by gazing up at the Antarctic cosmos and enjoy the exceptionally clear night full of stars.

But, for those who do not have the opportunity to go to Antarctica itself, there are various tourist attractions that will give them the chance to get to know and appreciate the continent. These include the Visitor Centre at the International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch, the Antarctic display at the Canterbury Museum, and Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Experience in Auckland.

The days of Antarctic voyage will all be worth it as you enjoy the things that you can do in the “White Continent”, things that not everybody gets the chance to experience. Deciding to visit Antarctica is one bold and adventurous move, so if you get the chance, do not let it slip away. Do not miss the privilege of being one with the untamed beauty of Antarctica.

BOLA TANGKAS