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Antarctica

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  • Zodiac, Antarctica
    Zodiac, Antarctica
  • Antarctica
    Antarctica
  • Macquarie Island, Antarctica
    Macquarie Island, Antarctica
  • Antarctica
    Antarctica

Amidst the solitude of Antarctica, adventurous travellers can discover an ethereal landscape that lingers in the memory. Very few have ventured onto this appealingly inaccessible continent, but those who have rave about the privilege of gazing upon towering mountains, bulky glaciers and luminous, dreamlike icebergs. Perhaps more than anywhere else, Antarctica reminds those who visit it of the awesome (and savage) power of nature.

Antarctica is welcoming more tourist-orientated cruises and ferries to the region every year, and facilities are continually developing, with more accommodation, culinary and travel options available. There is now ample opportunity to ascend Mount Erebus, the southernmost active volcano on Earth; to fly via helicopter or venture by boat to penguin colonies; and to really make the most of a terrain that teems with wildlife, with a multitude of birds, seals, albatrosses and enormous whales.

Some argue that Antarctica is changing, and by man-made causes rather than natural ones. Many regard the increasing focus on tourism as disconcerting and wish to preserve Antarctica in its elemental state to avoid any potential environmental damage. Antarctica is still a magical experience that most, given the chance, would find hard to resist. Those who do visit should be aware of their impact upon the landscape and do their utmost to limit the effect of their stay.

Perhaps the reason behind the fascination with Antarctica is its function as a symbol of endurance and survival. Before Antarctica was first spotted (in 1819), the continent was the subject of constant speculation, spoken of in almost mythical terms as Terra Australia Incognita (The Unknown Southern Land). Humans first occupied the continent in 1899, but Antarctica seemed inhospitable and incomprehensible and, in many ways, it still is.

  • Geography:

    Antarctica is the largest remaining wilderness on Earth and is still relatively untouched by human impact. It covers an area of 14 million sq km (5.4 million sq miles) around the South Pole and is covered with an ice sheet 4km (2.5 miles) deep. It has no permanent human population other than a small number of personnel at over 60 research stations run by 30 different nations. Antarctica is the coldest and windiest continent.

    Government:

    Antarctica has no government and is regulated under the Antarctic Treaty System.

    Timezone:
  • Currency Information:

    Antarctica has no official currency.

    Currencies:
  • Required Clothing:

    It is imperative to wrap up warm in Antarctica given its sub-zero temperatures. Required clothing is a mix of foundation or base layer clothing (thermal tops, thermal trousers, gloves, socks), insulating layer clothing (fleeced tops, woollen sweatshirts, jackets, trousers) and outer or shell layer clothing (waterproof and windproof trousers, jackets, mittens and gloves). Scarves, insulating head gear, waterproof and insulated boots, goggles and sunglasses are also essential items.