Things to do in Antarctica

When I first imagined going to Antarctica, all I could see was snow. How would we survive, where would we stay? But you don’t have to look hard to discover there is a lot going on in Antarctica. Even trusty Trip Advisor has numerous reports from recent expeditions, detailing a number of exciting sites from unique Islands to die for, walking amongst penguins and seals to historic huts built by those first explorers.

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What we will or won’t get to explore is up in the air. We are at the mercy of the wind and the weather. But that can’t stop me from getting excited about what we might see.

Deception Island 

This is what I am most excited about. The Island gets its name from being home to a live volcano and because you cannot see the majority of the volcano which is deceptively hiding below the sea. Given the Island has experienced two consecutive volcanic eruptions which scientist didn’t predict, what could possibly go wrong?

This area is a huge attraction for tourists and scientists alike. The scientist is excited at studying a volcano beneath the ice whilst tourists benefit from the rare opportunity to bath in Antarctic water as the volcano creates hot springs.

I am just glad I have something warm to look forward to on this trip. The thought of us donning our bathing suits in the middle of Antarctica is crazy but this my kind of crazy. In fact, this is the only part of the trip friends and family may truly believe I will enjoy.

Port Lockroy 

A British base, with a post office where you can get your passport stamped and send postcards home. The post office also has a small gift shop where you can buy some keepsakes, amongst which is the Antarctic tartan scarf. Given all the history the base holds, there is also a museum.

Port Lockroy is also home to the Gentoo Penguins, another adorable type of Penguin found in Antarctica. This group have only made the island their home in the last 33 years, half the island is off-limits to visitors and staff alike in order to allow the study of these Penguins. A study carried out since 1996 is looking at the impact of tourism on the breeding of the Gentoo Penguins. Luckily so far they have found that there is no impact which means a visit to Port Lockroy is a possibility.

The South Pole 

The south pole is still one of the hardest to reach places in Antarctica and remains something that few people who visit the continent choose to travel to. If it’s not the cold weather ranging to -84 that will put you off, It is also likely to break the bank. Flights to the sound pole can cost thousands.

For the lucky ones who visit, they will discover there are two poles, not one. A ceremonious pole in red and white tape and a ring of 12 poles with flags of the countries who had signed the original Antarctic Treaty.  The second pole is the geographic south pole, marking its exact location and the polar opposite of the north pole.

Ross Island 

Antarctica’s biggest base run by the Americans called McMurdo Station or ‘Mac Town’ is a hub for scientists. 250 people stay at this base over the harsh winter -not for the faint-hearted- and over a thousand people come and go in the summer months.  The town in a small home away from home for the American residing there. It has everything you could want, a hospital, church, hairdressers, library, video store, coffee shops and even clubs! The town boasts a local paper (The Antarctica Sun), TV shows and two radio stations. It sounds like a whole load of fun, I could almost consider making the move.

Where there is a will, there is a bar 

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When my colleague sent me a link to the southernmost bar in Antarctica, I felt instant comfort. If there are bars, it can’t be all that remote and as hard to reach as I had thought. After some research, it became clear there are a number of bars all over Antarctica.

So if all the fantastic scenery, exploring, breathtaking panoramic views, whale watching, and wildlife spotting are not enough. At least we can drink.

Sabina

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