New Delhi: Antarctica is the southernmost and least populated continent in the world. Located almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, it is believed to be the coldest, driest and windiest of the continents. Primarily considered a polar desert, Antarctica is a place free from anything man-made.
Thus, a trip to Antarctica must be on the list of travel enthusiasts for its beautiful frozen wilderness, species that will amaze you with their informal interactions with humans, and most importantly, the cleanest environment. Antarctica is the mother of all unique tourist destinations on the planet. Therefore, before its precious polar ecosystem and wildlife are threatened and lost forever, a visit to Antarctica will give you one of the best experiences you can think of. Antarctica encompasses the entire area south of 60°, which includes islands, seas, and ice shelves. A trip to the South Pole promises a land of extremes, which only the most adaptive travelers can handle.
Here are the 10 reasons why you should visit Antarctica:
1. To observe the penguins in real life: These charming creatures are linked to Antarctica, and being able to walk among them is a major reason to visit Antarctica. It is said that these penguins are absolutely not afraid of humans, so you will be able to observe these amazing creatures up close. Emperor penguins and Adélie penguins are two of 17 penguin species that only live on the White Continent, and like their royal name, these tuxedo-clad gentlemen rule the earth with their crazy mating rituals and amusing behaviors. There are up to 250,000 in a breeding ground, so there are plenty of featherless pals to see.
2. To experience the thrill of whale watching: The Antarctic Ocean has been home to at least 10 species of whales, six species of seals and three races of dolphins. Humpback whales (the most common), minke, right, blue, sei, fin, orca, pilot, sperm, and southern bottle-nosed whales are some of these whales. These magnificent animals are captured by the world’s largest mammals when migrating alone or in groups. Sightings of these whales are regular throughout the season. With the distinctive sound of their blowhole alerting you, you can always come to know of their presence.
3. To discover what the underwater world is like: Antarctica’s underwater ecology is often underestimated, despite being a world unto itself. Oceanographers describe the Antarctic Ocean as a “riot of life”, with species found nowhere else on the planet. New crab species, an albino octopus and exotic fish species have been identified by researchers.
4. To experience the beauty of giant blocks of ice: The ice in the Arctic and Antarctica is thicker, taller, heavier and older than anywhere else on the planet, and the puffy sculptures change so quickly you’ll never see the same pattern twice. The diversity and magnificence of Antarctica’s icebergs will have you reaching for your camera every five minutes, as gigantic hanging glaciers cling to mountains or carve their way to the water’s edge on land.
5. To meet the seals: Seals are another attraction of a trip to Antarctica, among many specialties calling the Antarctic Peninsula and sub-Antarctic islands. In South Georgia, you’ll see millions of fur seals and elephants crammed onto the beaches, with fierce male elephant seals struggling to preserve their harem of females. Again, around the Antarctic Peninsula you can witness nature at its fiercest, as leopard seals hunt penguins in the shallows and charming Weddell seals and crabeaters sunbathe on the ice.
6. To feel the cold when you go skiing: Immerse yourself in the exhilaration of off-piste skiing – the old-fashioned way! With no Nordic trails to guide you, discover how skiing was used in the past as a mode of transportation from point A to point B. You can navigate the elements as you traverse fresh snow and slopes; routes that will put your sense of direction to the test.
7. To meet extraordinary birds:
A trip to Antarctica is one of the best ways to see the magnificent wandering albatross, an elegant white bird with black-tipped wings. It has the largest wingspan in the world, at 11 feet. It is a fascinating sight to watch them float above the lake and dive above the waves, sometimes diving to fish.
Other species to watch out for are black-browed albatrosses, petrels, shearwaters and fulmars, which hunt krill in large groups. Whales may be present where you observe them eating krill.