Where Is Antarctica?

colony
Penguin colonies can have more than 10,000 residents!

Antarctica? Seriously?

It’s At The Bottom Of The Earth!

Isn’t it freezing year-round?
Oh yes, it has that “south pole” vibe!



WHAT’S The Attraction?

mamma penguin
Agh! he’s soo CUTE!

Where else will you find total isolation and penguins further than the eye can see?

Go to Snow Hill Island and witness colonies of 10,000 or more Emporer penguins.
It’s the best place in the world to see them…
(Remember “Happy Feet”?) 

There is whale watching and orca sightings; seals in such great numbers they could cover a large island.

Everyone wants to go there for the wildlife, landscape, and unspoiled beauty.

You need to see the beauty;  you cannot duplicate that with a camera.
Feel the air with its stillness, and the striking sunshine in a liquid blue sky.

The mountains are white and the snow is dry.
(Antarctica brings out my poetic side).

You could never describe what it is like to be swallowed by the scenery…
Sit in the shadows and no one would even know you were there.


Is There 5-Star Accommodation?

Antc stlmnt
The bases are for scientists and researchers.

There are accommodations and conveniences for scientists and researchers.

There are seven Christian Churches, but no one goes to Antarctica to live there permanently.

In the summertime, thousands of scientists and researchers arrive for several months or weeks at a time. They take up all the available accommodation.

But before you have a population explosion in your head, the average number of people in summer is around 5,000 and just 1,000 for the rest of the year!

And that’s for the whole 5.4 million square miles!

Not counting the people on the ships… That would be you.


I Would Live On A Ship? Whoo-hoo!


YOU will be living on the National Geographic ship that sailed you in, through the ice-floes! 

It is deemed a privilege and a responsibility to visit Antarctica.
It is a designated Nature Reserve so you have to follow the rules…
You cannot just fly in without permission.


What Is The Currency?

I would not worry too much about cash as there are no places to “go shopping”. 
There is no mall or grocery plaza, no restaurants or al fresco cafes… Not yet, anyway.

general store
Now, this looks like a modern general store!

There are ATM machines everywhere, but there are no banks. 

There are some small gift and curio stores…

But wait!! There’s more!

There is the famous McMurdo’s General Store which supplies anything you would EVER need in the Antarctic!

Of course, it’s famous, it’s the only general store there! 

There is a currency called the Antarctic Dollar but it is not circulating yet.

Seriously that money might be the best souvenir you could ever buy.
Where else would you get it? 


Who Does Antarctica Belong To?


This is nice. There are no borders in Antarctica and it is not owned by any one country.
It is managed by a group of countries… Hmmm…

It’s twice the size of Australia; you’d think someone would want it!

Their system is working so far… I think.

Under the Antarctic Treaty, If anyone commits a crime, people in Antarctica are subject to the laws of their own country.
If I committed a crime it would not be much of a stretch to lie about my country of origin… while hiding out in Antarctica! Just saying.


What Do The Researchers Research?

whales
They study wildlife and geology.

They study lichens, mosses, algae, and microscopic organisms. There are no trees or vegetation.
They also study wildlife, astronomy, weather, and geology.

The bases are for scientific researchers and sometimes – rarely –  their children.

Their parents would have to have a job there or be in a support business.

These could include radio, boating, mechanics, electrics, cooking, medical, diving, sewing, or carpentry to build schools.


There Are An-tarc-ti-cans Among Us!

Eleven babies have been born in Antarctica. There are two schools on the continent, with a few children in each. (Add up the children of the parents working there… we send them to school too!)

Chile and Argentina warred over Antarctica and sent young couples in the seventies and eighties to “populate the land”.

So after eleven babies were born, between the two countries, a Chilian couple conceived there… WELL…
I know!.. Yes!.. So Chile thought this would give them the edge over Argentina. 

So, who owns it?
Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, and the UK. They all have stations there as do other countries. 

If you ask the rest of the world “who owns it?”, they’ll say that nobody does! 

And of course, National Geographic regularly sails in with hundreds of photographers every year.
They own huge battleship-style, ocean liners that bring in the tourists… but first, get ready for this!

photographer
Ask him to take your photo!

Walk onshore to the station and spend some time with the scientists. Find out what they do there all day long. Delve into their research; engage in conversation.
Do lunch together.

They haven’t had visitors for a long time, and it’s exciting when a ship sails into port. They are ambassadors for the region; it’s their job to supply accurate information.

That’s what you came here for… They want you to feel welcome.

Then you might ask one of the photographers to take your picture on an ice floe surrounded by penguins. 


What Are The Fast Facts?

Maybe there are some limitations: Antarctica is 5.4 million square miles and comprises 61% of the world’s freshwater. This is good, presumably.
BUT 89% of this 5.4 million sq. mi. is ICE, one mile thick! Only 1% is flowing water… That’s dry.

polar bear plunge
You are invited to the Polar Bear Plunge!

This 1% comprises small lakes that don’t freeze because they are closer to the earth’s core…

Those lakes must be the “Florida Keys” of the Antarctic!

Oh, and did I mention that you should pack your swimsuit?… No?…
It’s for the polar bear plunge and you are all invited!

 

How Do I Get There?

Antarctic tourist ship
Battleship-style, they sail across the south seas.

First, you need to fly to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Islands; Santiago; Easter Island OR Patagonia… to board the ship assigned to your adventure.

The distance from New York to Antarctica is 8,717 miles. From my calculation, that’s just over one-third of the distance around the earth.

Now I feel small… and I know the earth is flat.


About The COST Of This Trip? 

Expect to pay $6,000 for a short package and up to $25,000 for a thirty-day, more extensive expedition.
You can pay more! Decide on the package you want!

Pssst, don’t forget about that first leg of the trip – above.

It is not cheap to go to Antarctica. Excursions by ship can have a group of twelve or up to one to two hundred people. 

There is not exactly a competitive edge here, because not many ships are going that far south. So if you find an excursion taking fifty people, at a reasonable price, you might want to consider looking into it.

My biggest fear is that someone will put up a mall, next to a seal colonyDon’t wait… go soon.

Spend whatever it takes to make this a most memorable trip. You may never do this again.


This Is MY Cabin?

ship's delight
A vessel with amenities to keep you happy!

The ship you will be on is specifically designed for sailing amongst icebergs and is owned by National Geographic!

You will rub shoulders with photographers, scientists, geologists, and explorers.

They will be your shipmates! 
Imagine the conversations at that dinner table!

Picture it: a high-end vessel in the battleship style, WITH amenities to keep you happy and occupied during the long sail over the south seas.

These could include a games room and spa.

Of course, there are individual cabins, ensuites, and a view of the sea from their portal.
On some vessels, food and beverages are part of the package; as they should be!

These ships are big, strong, strengthened steel, and reliable. The brochures tell us that you can sometimes hear the hull crunching its way through the ice floes…That would make me a little crazy.

Don’t forget the cost of your clothes so you don’t risk hypothermia, and this is summertime!
You can’t go if you don’t have the right protection… and… it’s expensive!


WHAT Should I Wear?

Antarctica on deck
Wear non-slip shoes on deck.


You have to get ready – – your trip starts in three months and you need to shop…
w-i-s-e-l-y.

You will need an anorak and leggings certified for -30F, with taped seams to keep all the moisture out.

They should be down-filled with micro-fibre insulation, breathable, and have lots of pockets!

Certified extreme weatherproof. 

It’s for your safety and enjoyment.
You will start to resemble the Michelin Man.

Your boots cannot be ankle boots or for hiking – that won’t do. They must be calf-high and waterproof. Certified, too.

Think of it as another pair of shoes. You’ll get through this… Footwear is not to be trifled with.


And That Is Just Half Of It!

For your second layer of clothing, just be sure you have at least two of everything.
Yes, there are laundry facilities.

That means two pairs of longjohns and long-sleeved t-shirts. Not the cheap ones; these must wick the moisture while providing warmth.

When it comes to thermal socks this is where I splurge and buy six pairs. You might need to wear two pairs at once.

Pack thermal gloves, a balaclava, the highest quality UV sunglasses, a good camera, batteries, and a laptop.

Maybe one extra pair of sunglasses in case one gets broken.
Hi-quality, expensive
sunglasses… Buy two.

Don’t forget lightweight wool sweaters for “casual attire” and maybe a medium-weight jacket when you don’t need the down-filled heavier version……That will be seldom.

supplies to Antarctica
If you’ve forgotten anything, go to McMurdo’s general store!

You will want some casual clothes for the evenings inside the ship and there might be a dress-up dinner, or two.
No high heels; this is an adventure expedition, not a Carnival cruise.
Wear non-slip footwear in case it snows while you are on deck.

Now for creature comforts, you should pack lip balm, a water bottle, sunscreen, sun hat, toiletries, and earplugs.
The earplugs are to snuff out the unusual sounds at night. 

Don’t forget your sleepwear, slippers, and underwear. 

Take trekking poles, a guidebook, a flashlight (and batteries), and a diary. You need to note every detail.

Don’t forget to pay for your insurance.
I was ok with everything until I got to the insurance part… What could go wrong?

If I missed anything, go to McMurdo’s General Store...They’ll have you covered.


How Can I Prepare?

zodiak exlorations
Zodiacs explore the area!

You need to be in reasonably good shape to carry your own body weight and stand or walk for a few hours at a time

Learn to kayak; ride a Zodiak before the trip and have some lessons. You’ll feel good about yourself.
You need to experience every minute of this voyage.

The cost is almost prohibitive.


Would I Go To Antarctica?

By now, you may be wondering “would Corinne go to Antarctica?”
Yes, I would, in a heartbeat, 
and I would put $30,000 towards it!

No one I know has been to Antarctica and probably wouldn’t go. I have travelled a lot, so this would be a new frontier for me.

I could go back to the countries I have been to. Have I seen everything in those places?
I’m sure I have not. 

But this is like being on the waiting list for flights to the moon! Or Mars!

I won’t live long enough to fly to another planet, but I could go to Antarctica.


So, Do I Prefer To Be “ALONE”?

 Could this be just about isolation?… Yes, partly true, and why not?

But… there is no one out there. This is isolation – – from everything


If You Hear A Sound… Just Listen!

If you hear a sound, it could be seals or penguins, but not people or traffic.

Any noise splits the air. The quiet is deafening and everyone speaks in hushed tones.
If you packed your flashlight you may want to peer into that cave to see what is making that noise.

momma seal and baby
Isolation has its price.

You will be fascinated and amazed…by everything!

We go on cruises that have 6,000 passengers, dining rooms, bars, and swimming pools.
Those are for the masses, and I am ok with that.

Seems we can stoke up a throng anywhere if we think about it.

A crowd has its place... Isolation has its price.


THIS Is What It’s AboutYou Want To Be Here!

The Antarctic is not about being in a crowd. It is to experience total isolation with nature, in a very raw form. 

Don’t put this off…Those An-tarc-ti-cans will populate; you’ll see.

The isolation is exactly what entices me to take this trip… Now.
 
Did I mention that there is a luggage restriction for each person?
While it is generous, you may need to dress in layers to get past the “quota police”.

Take it as it comes, because, you will never forget this trip.

To answer your question: “Yes, it IS five-star”.

Regards, Corinne

2 thoughts on “Where Is Antarctica?”

  1. Hey a great and interesting post you have here! 

    I’ve always found Antarctica really fascinating ever since I was a child, happy feet was one of my favourite animated movie! 

    Wow I’m actually surprised that the Antarctica is that busy, I was hoping it’ll be quiet but I guess there are others who find this part of the planet intriguing as well. Thanks for this, a trip to Antarctica would definitely be an experience to remember!

    Reply
    • Thank you Sariyah. 

      Just a question and I think this is what I was looking for, how do you feel about the appearance of the article? Are the images good or lacking? Is it an interesting read?  

      This would be helpful to me.

      Corinne  

      Reply

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