Antarctica includes the Antarctic continent, Antarctic Peninsula and several island groups including the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, South Shetland Islands, South Orkney Islands and South Sandwich Islands. Antarctica is the most southerly continent and covers 14,000,000km2 which makes it the 5th largest continent on Earth.
About 98% of Antarctica is covered in ice about 1.6kms thick, it has a number of rivers and lakes, is divided by the Transantarctic Mountains and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. It contains the South Pole and lies largely within the Antarctic Circle. It is a polar desert with most of the land over 2kms high, and has 6 months of darkness followed by the austral summer (November to March) of almost total daylight, the latter being the tourist season. It’s a remote destination, and reaching it is very much part of the experience, making it feel more of an expedition than a holiday, a feeling reinforced as you explore by zodiac, kayak and on foot led by an experienced polar guide.
For centuries before it was first discovered by man in 1820 there were myths of a 'Terra Australis', or southern land, whose existence was believed to '˜balance' the known land masses in the northern hemisphere. The heroic efforts of Scott, Amundsen, de Gerlache and Shackleton at the turn of the 20th century have captured the imaginations of subsequent generations. In 1959 the Antarctic Treaty proclaimed Antarctica a scientific preserve and today the continent’s human population comprises up to 5,000 scientists (falling to 1,000 in winter) based in some 70 research stations.
Wildlife includes several species of penguins (emperor, southern rockhopper, Adelie, king, chinstrap and gentoo), fur seals, crabeater and Weddell seals, blue, humpback, minkie and killer whales, petrels and albatrosses.
A trip to Antarctica, the largest wilderness on Earth, is an authentic adventure, travelling where few have ventured, and is certain to leave you with lasting memories.
Time: Arctic GMT -5 Antarctic GMT -3
Flight time approximately 22 hours to Ushuaia (Argentina) or Punta Arenas (Chile) (no direct flights from the UK)
Language: English is the most widely spoken language
Not required for British nationals for Antarctica, South Georgia or the Falkland Islands.
None required but tetanus may be recommended. No other vaccinations are compulsory.