People often daydream of traveling to places like London and New York, Sydney and South Africa.
But . . . Antarctica?
Well, it’s certainly uncommon.
Sure, the average temperature is colder than a meat locker and most of the local residents have beaks and blowholes, but even these reasons shouldn’t discourage the most adventurous of travelers. In fact, according to the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), over 44,000 tourists flocked to Antarctica between 2016 and 2017. And the numbers are only growing.
This continent is a magical place and if you’re inclined to visit but are unsure how, take a look at some of the creative ways you can start planning your journey there today!
Book a Cruise
If you love to sail the open seas, there are several different cruise options that will get you to the land of glaciers, whales, and adorable penguins. Visitors can make their way to Ushuaia, the southernmost tip of South America. From there, you can hop on a cruise to Antarctica. It typically takes three days to reach the mystical seventh continent from Ushuaia, but most cruises last at least 10 days altogether. You can also travel from Australia or New Zealand to Antarctica by ship.
Choose your cruise wisely as each takes a different route. Also, some cruises are purely scenic – that is, they don’t land on the continent – you’ll just enjoy the sights from the ship. If you’re prone to seasickness, beware the often-tumultuous Drake Passage! There’s a reason the dining room furniture on your ship is chained in place and slip-proof material covers the ship’s interiors. While this stretch of the ocean isn’t always turbulent (sometimes it’s called the Drake Lake for its serene nature), it’s worth considering if you’ve yet to develop sea legs.
Take a Flight
While boats used to be the sole method of transportation to get to this arctic land, flights are now available for those who dare not brave the rough waters. However, you won’t find flight deals via a mainstream airline; you’ll have to book a charter flight instead. With a bit of research, you’ll find plenty of options – like this 2-hour charter flight from Punta Arenas to Antarctica. Folks can also book flights to the storybook South Pole.
While you’ll get to skip the potentially choppy Drake Passage, flying to Antarctica will certainly put a dent in your wallet. If you have the money, and if arriving in comfort is more your style, flying can be an excellent option to reach this unchartered and mostly untouched land.
Become a Scientist
Sure, we’ve given you the more touristy ways to explore this icy landscape, but we’d be remiss not to mention alternative routes to venture to the majestic seventh continent. While nobody becomes a scientist overnight, it’s a worthwhile career to pursue if visiting Antarctica is a dream of yours. Antarctic scientists study marine life, sea ice, land molecules, and much more. In fact, the continent is home to over 70 research stations run by 30 different countries.
Think Antarctic science is irrelevant? Not so fast! The New York Times reports researchers recently found that New York City’s ability to withstand hurricanes could actually be linked to Antarctic ice sheets . . . 8,000 miles away! There is so much yet to be discovered in the home of the South Pole – and you could get paid to travel there and facilitate new, ground-breaking experiments!
Did you know the National Science Foundation (NSF) has an Antarctic Artists & Writers Program? That’s right! Ba-humbug to all those who said your liberal arts degree would never take you places. Indeed, it can take you quite far . . . all the way to Antarctica even!
The program, according to the NSF website, “provides opportunities for scholars in the humanities (painting, photography, writing, history, and other liberal arts) to work in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. These visitors will be able to make observations at U.S. Antarctic Program stations and research camps and in wilderness areas.” The program favors those who are looking for a long-term opportunity; not journalists looking for a short stint and an easy scoop. The deadline is June 1 of each year and past artists include photographers, filmmakers, and writers.
While Antarctica isn’t a destination on everyone’s travel list, it’s certainly worth looking into for those interested in the most magical trip of a lifetime. Will you be cold? Probably. Will you get seasick? It’s a possibility. Is there a chance you’ll see adorable penguins that you’ll want to bring back to your home country? Absolutely.
Above all, visiting Antarctica will give you stories to share for the rest of your life. Never say never to your wildest travel dreams! If you can afford the high costs and weeks-long journey to get there – or if you’re lucky enough to get paid to be there – you’ll be in for an icy treat!