A Little About Antarctica
Antarctica is the only continent that has no country and no native population. While there are a few researchers and scientists who live there periodically for research and studies, the continent has no permanent resident. It is the driest and coldest place on earth.
A Brief History
Antarctica is governed by an international body known as the Antarctic Treaty System consisting of 53 parties. The treaty was initially signed on December 1, 1959, by twelve countries whose scientists had been active in and around Antarctica during the International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957-58 (Antarctica Treaty System). The ATS establishes Antarctica as a scientific preserve. It allows for freedom of scientific investigation on the continent and calls for the free exchange of scientific observations and results from the continent.
Over the years, Antarctica has become a tourist spot for people around the world. Depending on whom you ask, traveling to Antarctica is safe. The International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO), consisting of over 100 member companies, claims to facilitate appropriate, safe and environmentally sound private-sector travel to the continent. While it is not compulsory to travel with an IAATO member company, it is advisable. Due to frozen landscape and unpredictable weather, IAATO encourages people wanting to visit Antarctica to use a member since they have demonstrated experience working under those conditions and have knowledge of best practices.
According to the IAATO’s tourism statistics for 2015/2016, 30,369 tourists landed in Antarctica between 2015-2016:
In the same time period 8,109 tourists visited via cruise:
According to IAATO, tourist season is typically around austral summer from late October or early November to late March or early April every year.
There is no visa requirement to travel to Antarctica . However, tourists may need a visa to get to a connecting country: Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa etc. Travelers can get to Antarctica via cruise ships or ‘fly/cruise’ (fly by small aircraft to the South Shetland Island, just off the South Shetland Islands, just off the Antarctic Peninsula and then join up with your expedition cruise ship there). The cost of travel varies depending on a number of factors including the length of stay, choice of cruise, and time of the year.
Cruise prices via Hurtigruten for example range from about £4,000 to £8,000 depending on country of departure, the length of stay, and destination. This does not include travel insurance, international flights, and gears.
Things to Do
Antarctica appears to be an ideal destination for nature lovers. People visit for wildlife, scenic beauty, and crossing an item off a bucket list. Activities include penguins and bird watching, camping overnight, skiing, snowboarding, SCUBA diving, kayaking, and scenic tours. Some cruises have packages that include tours to the Falkland Islands.
Would you add Antarctica to your travel bucket list?