Antarctica. That one word for many inspires dreams of fulfilling a traveler’s bucket list to visit Antarctica. Antarctica’s siren call has become the stuff of legend, pulling mariners and explorers toward her shores for decades. Add in an other-worldly landscape of mountains, sea and ice, killer whales, and herds of elephant seals, and there is little wonder so many of all ages jump at the chance, even with an other-worldly price tag to visit Antarctica ($7,000 to $15,000 for 13 days and up, and up to $35,000 for longer). And some find they are drawn back again and again.
The Falklands (Malvinas), has abundant wildlife. The archipelago is home to Magellanic, gentoo and rockhopper penguins and, for the fortunate, a sighting of king penguins. There are also Cobb's wren, the steamer duck (flightless) and the black-browned albatross.
The archipelago contains two main islands—East Falkland and West Falkland. Typically, Antarctica cruises that visit here use Zodiac boats to visit various areas and landing places.
Stanley, also known as Port Stanley, has the feel of an historic British outpost. Visitors can grab a pint at a local pub or visit numerous churches and museums.
Ushuaia, Argentina, is considered the southernmost city in the world. It is nestled within the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, and has a small-town feel. Since it is the jumping off point for most Antarctica cruises, it also boasts shops, museums, cafés and restaurants. A nearby national park and the Martial Glacier provide plenty of options for additional adventures before or after an Antarctica cruise.
Grytviken - South Georgia Island
Grytviken, which is home to an old whaling station, a museum, a gift shop, a church and a small research station, is also where the famous explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton, is buried. Many Antarctica cruises that include South Georgia Island on the itinerary, also include a visit to Grytviken for that reason. The island itself was once a base for hunting whales, fur seals and elephant seals. Today, this island is best known for its wildlife viewing opportunities, sometimes being referred to as the "Galapagos of the Pole."
South Shetland Islands
This is where many Antarctica cruises actually "touch" what is often referred to as "The White Continent." It is here, where one realizes that the Antarctica is a land of extremes. The expanse of ice and snow and silence in all directions is juxtapositioned with the audible roar and spectacular visual explosion of ice calving from a glacier as it crashes into a brilliant blue sea dotted with floating ice chunks. And then, of course, there is the wildlife. Chinstrap, Adélie and gentoo penguins are found here, along with Weddell, fur, crabeater and leopard seals. Whales, such as minkes, are often attracted to Zodiacs, giving visitors a chance to get within reaching distance -- an unforgettable experience.
South Orkney Islands
Considered by many cruises to the the "first" official stop in Antarctica, visits here are strictly weather-permitting. The islands are actually an archipelago made up of Coronation
Antarctica Tours -- Suggested Tour Operators / CruisesThe following are tour operators and cruising companies we are familiar with and feel very comfortable recommending.
- Journeys International - Journeys is a tour operator that works directly with local companies and organizes trips around the world.
- Polar Latitudes - This company focuses only on the Antarctica and utilizes small, expeditionary ships outfitted for safety and comfort.
- Quark Expeditions - This company explores both the Arctic (north) and Antarctica (south), also using small, expeditionary ships.
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