As Christmas approaches us once again, the winter sun holidays are as popular as ever. However, for many travellers, this time of year signals the ideal opportunity to visit colder regions and really embrace the spirit of this snowy season. As the southern hemisphere begins to warm, we slip into winter, and it opens up Antarctica which is inaccessible during our summer. This huge white continent is a dream destination for wildlife lovers and photographers alike, boasting remarkable icy landscapes and unique species which are perfectly adapted to the region. If receiving a Christmas card with a penguin on the front is no longer enough, maybe it’s time to journey to this far-flung part of the world. Here are 7 unique activities to experience in this majestic environment.
1. Kayak between the’bergs
Cruising through the icebergs of Antarctica is a spectacular experience in itself, but for those wanting to maximise the experience, there is another exciting option. Many cruises offer the opportunity to get even closer to the wildlife and landscapes on a kayaking adventure. Slip into the icy seas and become at one with nature as silent icebergs glide past and your paddle gently breaks the mirror-like surface of the water. If you are lucky you may get a close encounter with penguins, seals or whales.
2. Antarctica by air
Short on time? There is now an 8 day fly-cruise option is the perfect choice for travellers who have limited time but still wish to experience the white expanse of Antarctica. This is also an excellent option for those who are concerned about being ill during the infamous Drake Passage crossing…
3. Small ship luxury cruising
Although few Antarctica vessels can rival the size and capacity of ships elsewhere in the world, some still have an impressive number of passengers. If you are looking for a more intimate experience, the Hanse Explorer has a maximum capacity of just 12 making this the most exclusive service in Antarctica. The small size allows the ship to really penetrate this huge ice-laden landscape and guests will have the trip of a lifetime.
4. Sleep on the snow
To camp in Antarctica is a magical experience like no other. For one night only, there is now the option to take part in an overnight excursion to sleep on the snow in a tent, from which you can observe the crystal clear night skies. Surrounded by ice and penguins, there are few places in the world which compare.
5. Visit Sir Ernest Shakleton’s grave
For those with plenty of time to spare, why not take a long cruise which doesn’t just visit Antarctica, but also the remote islands of South Georgia and the Falklands. These seemingly desolate places are in fact full of life, particularly penguins and seal colonies. These islands also have a rich history, as they over many years they were frequently visited by sailors seeking shelter from the turbulent seas. The famous explorer Ernest Shackleton is buried on South Georgia, and a visit to the island would be incomplete without paying respects to his memory.
6. Walk with the penguins
As very few penguins have ever been hunted on Antarctica, they remain docile and quite unperturbed by the presence of humans. Visiting the sometimes thousands-strong colonies is a wonderful experience as you stand and watch these cute and cumbersome birds go about their daily life. It is likely, as you walk among them that you will get exceptionally close to these remarkable dwellers of the deep south.
7. Visit the white continent for one day only
If they fly-cruise option is still too time consuming for you, why not hop on a plane and visit this remote region for an astonishing single day experience. Taking off from Puerto Williams in the far south of Chile, guests will fly over Cape Horn, the Drake Passage and finally land on a small island in Antarctica before disembarking to view icebergs and penguins. A truly once in a lifetime trip for those who just have to tick this last frontier off their bucket list!
Simon Williams is Director of Bespoke Latin America.
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