One of the main draws of Antarctica is that it gifts adventurers a chance to leave the world they know behind. One of the main virtues Polar explorers focus on when discovering the magnetic pull of this exotic landscape is the fact that many modern conventions seem to slip by the way- side.
Antarctica is the final frontier.
It is a common misconception the idea that Antarctica has cities. There are no UBERS, there is little to no internet service, and it is so isolated and protected that not even Starbucks has managed to set up a shop there.
There are no cities, but there are towns.
There are a total of 60 or so stations. That number dips and grows throughout the year, Summer being one of the continent’s busiest time for receiving scientists and tourists. Most of these stations are temporary and errant; the staff either shuts the place down indefinitely or moves the whole construction to a new location as their tasks and investigations come to a close.
There are two outpost of this kind that are sometimes regarded as civilian “towns”. They have a staff year-round and are slowly, in spite of the fact that they are scientific operations, accommodating tourists and helping the trade.
The first is the Chilean, Villa Las Estrellas base on King George Island off the western tip of the Antarctica Peninsula. In recent years, Villas Las Estrellas has become the staging ground for “fly/sail” tourism coming in from Chile.
The second “town” is the Argentinian Esperanza base in Hope Bay. It is a smaller settlement compared to Villa Las Estrellas, but it is fast becoming another beacon for travellers wanting to get a taste of the frigid continent.
They both have schools, medical facilities, gyms, and are adapting the creature comforts of the mainland to the harsh realities of continuous habitation of Antartica. They offer snowmobile, ski trips and safaris. Villa Las Estrellas has the most infrastructure for tourism being partly served by 20 small hostels.
The Best Way To Travel to Antarctica.
Some airlines do fly infrequently to Antarctica, this helps travellers shave a few days off sailing. They land in King George and from there you can continue by cruise ship. There are two main cons’ to visiting Antarctica this way. The first is the aforementioned sparingly and sometimes random schedule they have. The second is that this approach avoids some of the magical sights and aspects of Antarctica; in a way, you’re only seeing a small part of the majesty of this land.
Antarctica Cruise (Or Expedition) ships are your best bet. There are a few ports throughout the world – The Falklands, Port Stanley, South Island, New Zealand, Cape Town, South Africa – but the two main ones and most active are Ushuaia, Argentina and Punta Arenas, Chile, the latter serving more as an airstrip. This is mainly on account of their close proximity to the continent and their tourist infrastructure. Most cruise companies do regular trips to Antarctica from these two ports. The Argentinian port is mostly known for attracting travellers from Europe and United States, due to the ease with which it can be reached from Buenos Aires. The Chilean port, meanwhile, services a steady stream of tourist from Indonesia, Asia and Australia.
We’ve already discussed the main cons of flying to Antarctica now let’s talk about the PRO… No Drake’s Passage. Most travellers get sick, due to the rough seas associated with this leg of the maritime journey, while crossing Drake’s Passage. Is it worth it? There’s a sense of accomplishment after the 2-day journey through it plus some of the sights are rather spectacular, but it all depends on your stomach and your seas legs. A journey to Antarctica by sea normally takes about 2-3 days, most of that time in the choppy and infamous surf of Drake’s.
Some tour companies, particularly those that have tailor made trips, offer an alternative to the whole trip. They will fly you from Punta Arenas to Villa Esperanza, lodge you for two more days in one of the hostels, and then you join a cruise that visits remote locations in Antarctica and ultimately finishes its journey in the port of Ushuaia Argentina; travelers getting both worlds.
There are dozens upon dozens of different considerations to take into account when planning a trip to the South Pole. The best way to see Antarctica to get the most out of your experience is by arranging an expedition by cruise ship.
Antarctica is a charming and magical place. It’s a place that is constantly on every would-be traveler’s bucket list. It is a rewarding and interesting region that’s hardly been touched by man and, also, one of the most rewarding spots on the globe for intrepid travellers. Antarctica is a must and now it’s easier than ever to fulfil that icy dream.