Two things spring to mind when thinking of Antarctica. First, there’s Scott and the stiff-upper-lip lore of “I may be some time”. Second, there are the maps and globes of one’s childhood, whose lower halves were smothered in bright white, forever a land of mystery and wonder at the bottommost end of the earth. The reality of any voyage to experience Antarctica first-hand is in fact far more mesmerising and memorable.
Of course, it goes without saying that it takes some effort to actually set foot on the white continent. We offer two options: one by small cruise ship, departing from the southernmost town in the world of Ushuaia, in Argentina, with a two-day crossing of the Drake Passage. The other flies you from the port of Punto Arenas in southern Chile to King George Island, where you can join a cruise before returning by plane to the mainland.
Both options offer up-close encounters with the world’s fifth-largest and coldest region (with ice so thick it’s an average of 1.2 miles deep), its spell-binding frozen landscapes and amazing wildlife. Cruising its coast, fjords and coves, you will navigate through vast ice-flows, meander among towering blue-tinged icebergs, and maybe visit a scientific station, such as the Vernadsky Research Base on Galindez Island.
Taking to inflatable dinghies, naturalist guides will accompany you from your small cruise ship to visitor sites or bays — there are many highlights to consider, but highlights include Neko Harbour, Paradise Harbour, Wilhelmina Bay, Devil Island, Brown Bluff, and Gourdin Island — enjoying trails through colonies of penguins, past lazing seals and on to panoramic cliff viewpoints, or else kayaking amid breeching whales. No matter how you choose to explore, the grandeur of this continent’s solemn isolation and natural bounty will stay with you for a lifetime.