Whoever you are – scientist, support worker, government official and tourist alike –, when you come to this isolated continent, you must ‘earn’ it, whether by air or sea. Ice and weather, not clocks and calendars, will determine your itinerary and the timetable of all travel here. Be prepared for experiences unique to the Polar regions, whether framing that perfect photograph of an awe-inspiring ice-form, whale-watching out at sea or viewing a penguin rookery. Today, it’s possible to kayak icy through waters and scale Antarctic Peaks. However, there isn’t anything quite like the outline of an immense glacier or the vastness of a polar ice cap.
Both the North and South Poles have the unique ability to make you feel like a very small speck in a vast landscape of nothingness, which is a surreal and life-affirming moment. It’s a place where you truly feel at one with the elements as mankind’s footprint is yet to colonise and disrupt the pristine nature of the landscape. Antarctica is protected by the Antarctic Treaty and so some of the most amazing species in the world roam wthis desolate habitat in isolation from humanity. Some migrate far and wide, such as the enormous whales, others stay close to the continent, like the Weddell seal and the world-renowned Emperor penguin. Millions of seabirds skim the Southern Ocean, the world’s most abundant ocean; species such as petrels and albatross circle above the water. Antarctic wildlife is usually unafraid of people, due to the fact that they haven’t seen many of us!