It’s the most effective time of the year to check out Antarctica and what much better Christmas existing for the vacationer in your life than a journey to the 7th continent? The most southern continent on Earth will certainly shock you. It is a lot greater than snow and ice. From observing the stunning charm of looming icebergs and huge glaciers to experiencing varied wild animals such as penguins, seals, and whales, this overview reveals the most effective points to do in Antarctica, guaranteeing your exploration is not simply a journey, yet a transformative journey. When you check out Antarctica, make certain to include these tasks to your Antarctic Cruise plan.
Best Things to do in Antarctica
We took a trip to Antarctica with Quark Expeditions, the leader in polar journeys. Since our Antarctic cruise ship, the white continent has actually opened to take a trip with a cruise liner to fit every sort of vacationer. We cruised on an all-suites cruise liner, yet there are huge high-end cruise ship lines, journey cruise ships, and tiny ships that are cruising throughout the Drake Passage nowadays.
When we went to Antarctica, we followed our journey with a cruise ship to the Galapagos Islands. As we get ready for one more journey to the Galapagos with Hurtigruten (one more polar exploration leader), we intended to motivate vacationers to venture out and begin discovering completion of the globe.
Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a digital photography lover, or merely looking for the excitement of the unidentified while including the last frontier to your traveling checklist, an Antarctic exploration provides the supreme in boasting legal rights. Whenever any person asks us what our much-loved location is and Dave responses Antarctica, individuals do a dual take. What? You’ve been to Antarctica?
So, if you wish to boast to your good friends too, begin conserving up your money for an Antarctic Cruise.
When we saw that kayaking was an Antarctic task supplied on our ship, we weren’t certain if we intended to jump in cool water kayaks. I fidgeted concerning kayaking in such cool water and was afraid toppling. So we scheduled a couple of lessons in the neighborhood swimming pool to find out just how to do a damp departure and self-rescue. Since that time, we’ve found out to whitewater kayak, yet having that fundamental understanding aided our self-confidence in the water. I rejoice we did it.
The price of including kayaking to a cruise ship exploration is high, and we questioned if the rate would certainly deserve it. We assumed we could venture out on the water one or two times throughout the cruise ship. However, we wound up kayaking 8 times nd it was wonderful.
We drifted silently previous leopard and Wedell seals sunning themselves on ice circulations, circumnavigated icebergs drifting in the center of the sea, and paddled with penguins leaping via the air at the front of our watercrafts.
It was a remarkable method to see aquatic life up close while we silently discovered the Antarctic Peninsula. It was the journey of a life time as we paddled via sea ice while minke whales appeared to greet along the wild Antarctic coastline. Read much more concerning Kayaking in Antarctica – our favored point to do in Antarctica
2. Polar Plunge
If you asked me what I thought about the polar dive while I was participating in this wacky journey where we jumped right into the cold Antarctic waters, I would certainly have informed you not to do it. It was horrified of striking the cool water. However, since I am home and in the conveniences of a cozy and comfortable home, I claim is just one of the most effective points to do in Antarctica.
Why? How commonly do you reach inform individuals that you delved into ice-cold waters in the South Pole and lived to inform the story? It’s difficult to cover this journey. If somebody states “I did the polar bear plunge in the local lake? You say, oh yeah, I did it in the Antarctic Circle! It’s pretty hard to top that!
With warm robes and hot chocolate waiting for us, we took a shot of vodka and once my teeth stopped chattering, we celebrated in the hot tub on the main deck. All the fear melted away and I was ready to do it again! Wondering what an Antarctica trip is like? Check out our Antarctic Expedition Explained.
Camping on the Sub-Antarctic Islands
In the grand scheme of things, very few people have traveled to Antarctica and even fewer have actually stayed overnight on the continent. Camping on Antarctica is an incredible experience. Normally people sleep on expedition ships or fly to Antarctica to be able to step on the land. But not many people have camped in a bivy sack in the middle of the snow beside snoring leopard seals.
Camping in Antarctica is a must. Yes, it’s cold, it’s uncomfortable, and you can’t eat, drink, or pee when camping in Antarctica, but once you are back on board your ship after surviving a night as the early explorers did, you’ll be filled with pride and gratitude that you never have to do that again. Camping on the Continent is one of the best things to do in Antarctica, read more about it here.
A small group of us hopped on zodiacs to the shore where we were dropped off just before sunset. Armed with our sleeping bags and bivy sacs, we walked to our chosen spots where we settled in for the night. We had to stamp out our camping area to flatten the snow around us and then we went inside zipping everything in the tiny bag. Before going to the continent, we barely at and drank as little as possible. There was an emergency toilet should we need to go, but we were encouraged to hold it until the next morning when we got back on the ship.
We recommend bringing booties and hand and feet warmers for the night. Make sure to have a balaclava to keep your face warm as well as all your layers. It gets cold in the wee hours of the morning. Read more: 5 Winter Layering Tips to Dress for Extreme Cold Weather
4. Zodiac Cruises
Most expeditions to Antarctica will offer zodiac tours of bays and icebergs. Seeing humpback whales surface right beside a tiny zodiac will take your breath away. Whales, seals, and calving glaciers from a zodiac are moments you won’t soon forget.
We usually went out twice a day on zodiacs to go wildlife watching. There is a surprising amount of wildlife on the white continent. We saw killer whales and humpback whales, leopard and Weddell seals floating on ice formations, and plenty of penguin colonies along the coast.
Zodiac cruises weren’t just about wildlife either. There are so many interesting things to explore in the Antarctic waters. We loved scooting around icebergs and puttering through thick brash ice in search of extraordinary ice formations. We stopped to watch calving glaciers and circle massive icebergs as our expert expedition team handled the zodiacs with ease.
Getting off the ship to see things in this intimate manner is a must. We had whales surface beside our boats and then dive underneath for a closer view. We looked at these great mammals in the eye as they seemed to give us a friendly hello. See more of what it’s like on a Zodiac Tour in Antarctica
5. Penguin Post Office at Port Lockroy
There are no permanent residents in Antarctica, only a small settlement of researchers that spend a few months a year on a research base. There are many research stations in Antarctica that you can visit but one of the top Antarctica attractions is an actual post office on the British base Porto Lockroy. Yes, you heard me: stopping at Port Lockroy research station is a fun stop on an Antarctica itinerary. It’s a spot where you’ll run into other Antarctic expeditions and get the chance to talk with the staff of the English research base.
A penguin colony inhabits the shores of the research station and you’ll see plenty of them hanging out in the area, hence its nickname Penguin Post Office.
In Port Lockery, you can browse the museum, play with the penguins, and buy some souvenirs. But the top antarctic activity here is to by a postcard and mail it to someone you love from the bottom of the world to your loved ones at home. Read all about it at – A Post Office in Antarctica?
6. Visit Penguin Colonies
Speaking of penguins. A highlight of any Antarctica visit is to interact with penguins. The Antarctic Circle and Weddell Sea are full of Penguin colonies, and seeing penguins up close is at the top of all Antarctica attractions.
We couldn’t get enough of visiting penguin colonies all around the Antarctic peninsula. Penguins are truly the cutest animals on the planet and watching them go about their daily lives will bring joy to anyone’s heart.
They waddle through their penguin trails making their way to the sea in frantic fashion. It’s adorable to see the energy of penguins rushing about doing their business.
Mothers protect their chicks and penguins call out to one another. They walk in organized lines along trails to the sea from one penguin colony to another. When you visit Antarctica, you are going to see a lot of penguins. Be prepared, they smell terrible. But they are so darn cute, you forget the smell and simply enjoy
The most memorable of all penguin encounters are when you sit quietly and let the curious creatures approach so close that they walk on your legs or pick at your coat. You are not allowed to approach or go within five meters of penguins, but if you sit still, sometimes they will walk right up to you and say hello. They are so curious. It’s a memory of a lifetime.
7. Visit Deception Island
One of the most ominous things to do in Antarctica is to visit Deception Island. Deception Island is one of the safest harbors in Antarctica which just so happens to be an active volcano. In the early 20th century, it was an old whaling station and tours will take you to see the remnants of that dark time.
Visiting Deception Island is a stark reminder of the evils of human nature. At one time whales were hunted to near extinction in Antarctica and when visiting Deception Island, you will see old oil drums, boilers, and whale bones from a darker time. It’s as horrifying as it is beautiful.
The active volcano heated the waters off the beach and at one time, people dug holes in the sand to enjoy the warm sand. But thanks to the Antarctic treaty that is no longer allowed. This would be overrun with the number of people traveling to Antarctica today. For more read The Ominous Deception Island
8. Cruise the Lemar Channel
Nicknamed the Fuji Funnel, Kodak Canal, and Agfa Alley the Lemaire Channel is one of the top things to do in Antarctica for photographers.
If you took photographs pre-digital world, you will be familiar with Fuji, Kodak, and Agfa; all popular brands of film.
During our passing through the narrow channel, we spent hours standing outside on deck taking photographs of the most spectacular scenery on the planet.
Antarctica is truly the final frontier of natural beauty and the Lemaire Channel is the most beautiful of the top destination. Now that’s saying a lot.
9. Photography Tour
One of the top things to do in Antarctica is to join a photography expedition. Many professional photographers lead photo tours to Antarctica and if you want to take home amazing memories, you can book a photography tour on most ships.
On our Antarctic Cruise, there was a separate group of people on the tour focusing on photography. They had their own separate tours where the professional photographers went out together, focusing more on capturing images than the experience. Both ways of traveling are an amazing experience, you can choose whichever way you want. Speaking of photography, one of the greatest things to see on earth is actual icebergs.
Your guide will show you how to capture the textures of the ice formations, how to grab unforgettable images of wildlife and make the most of your landscape images capturing Antarctica’s snow-capped mountains and glaciers. This is the way to travel if you are a photographer.
10. Antarctica Ice
In Antarctica, the icebergs are massive. They are full of layers of colorful hues of blue creating some of the most interesting formations. At times, the icebergs dwarfed our ship and we were grateful for the expertise of our captain who kept a safe distance from the formations that were larger than apartment buildings. If that much was showing above the water, two-thirds more were above. And icebergs move and roll. You cannot travel to this area without guides and people who know the waters.
At one point, we took a cruise through an iceberg graveyard where icebergs have grounded on the bottom of the sea and this is the spot where they will spend the final days breaking apart in the water until they dissolve into nothing. It’s eerie and beautiful all at once. Check out our photographs of Icebergs in 23 Epic Photos of Antarctica Ice
11. Whale Watching
I don’t think there is a better place on earth to watch whales than in Antarctica. We mentioned whale watching from zodiacs, but some of our best whale watching happened right from the ship. There are plenty of species of whales living in the Antarctic waters from Antarctic Minke Whales, Southern Right Whales, Orcas, Humpback Whales, Sperm Whales, and Pilot Whales, you will have a lot to choose from.
In Antarctica, whales have no fear of man. They haven’t been hunted for more than a century and they are at the top of the food chain. Therefore, whales have no reason to hide. Because of that, the whales of Antarctica are very curious.
When we were kayaking, on a zodiac or on the ship, they always surfaced nearby for a closer look. Seeing a whale in the wild is a magical experience and when traveling to Antarctica, you can get so close to them, you can almost reach out and touch them.
During one of our days at sea, we had two killer whales show off for us breaching on a regular basis. It’s like they were excited to see us! Another day, we had a mother and calf follow our ship, and the calf continued to breach for 45 minutes, putting on a dazzling show for the spectators on board. This experience was one of the coolest things we have ever witnessed in our travels.
12. Cross the Drake Passage
Okay, so it’s not in Antarctica but the Drake Passage takes you to Antarctica. Plenty of people are taking other routes to Antarctica to avoid the Drak Passage, but we feel that crossing the Drake Passage is truly a badge of honor.
The Drake is one of the most treacherous bodies of water on the planet.
If the weather is calm, it’s uneventful and easy, if the seas are rough, the Drake Passage will set you on a rumble and tumble two-day journey that will turn even the most seasoned sailor into a ball of mush.
We had a smooth crossing out, but coming back to civilization was another story and our crew told us it was one of the worst of the season.
How do we know it was bad? When Dave went down for dinner one night, only 2 other passengers joined him in the dining room. Throughout a very rough day, lectures were canceled due to passengers and crew alike being stuck in bed with a bad case of seasickness. It’s a rough ride, but it makes for a great travel tale.
Other Antarctica Activities
Antarctica is a destination that is constantly evolving and new activities are being added to itineraries. From ski touring to stand-up paddle boarding, there are plenty of new things to see and do. To give you an idea of other things to do in Antarctica, keep reading.
13 Scuba Diving
We didn’t scuba dive in Antarctica, but Antarctic expeditions are adding to their adventure travel list each year. A diving expedition in Antarctica is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for avid divers.
This unique adventure lets you explore the mesmerizing underwater world of the Southern Ocean, where vividly colored marine life, dramatic ice formations, and the ethereal beauty of the polar seascape await. You’ll dive from zodiacs with experienced guides.
This is not an activity for beginners, scuba diving in Antarctic requires experience in dry suit diving and cold water diving. You’ll have the opportunity to see unique marinelife and if you have gone scuba diving around the world, this is another destination to add to the bucket list.
14. Ice Climbing
During our expedition we did some glacier trekking and we thought that was the ultimate adventure for polar travelers, but you can now add Ice Climbing to your Antarctica adventures. We didn’t do it during our trip, but we have tackled ice climbing in other parts of the world. If your expedition offers this activity, we highly recommend it. Can you imagine telling people that yo
Antarctic Itineraries to Consider
Our itinerary took us through the South Shetland Islands, which is one of the top routes to take through Antarctica, but there are other itineraries you may want to consider or add to your epic adventure.
The main areas to sail in the Antarctic include the Antarctic Peninsula which often includes the South Shetland Islands. (which we did) and the sub-Antarctic islands that are frequently included in some of these expeditions are the Falklands and South Georgia
Lesser travelled places include the Weddell Sea, and Ross Sea which is the least-visited tourism region. If you are adding these to your itinerary, plan on longer expeditions up to 30 days.
15. Falkland Islands
An exceptional add on for a trip to the South Pole is visiting the Falkland Islands. This British Colony has plenty of things to see and do. The Falkland Islanders, known as “Kelpers,” are recognized for their cozy friendliness and intriguing tales concerning island life.
The funding of the Falkland Islands, Port Stanley, is commonly an emphasize. This tiny, vibrant community has a definitely British personality, with enchanting residences, English-design bars, and a historical sanctuary.
The Falklands are likewise abundant in background, with different websites pertaining to the Falklands War of 1982. This was such large information when we were youngsters. You can check out field of battles, memorials, and galleries that supply understandings right into this substantial occasion in the islands’ background.
You’ll likewise see a wealth of wealth of bird varieties, consisting of King Penguins, Gentoo Penguins, and Rockhopper penguins, along with various other seabirds like albatrosses. The islands are likewise home to elephant seals and sea lions, providing magnificent wild animals watching possibilities.
16. South Georgia
Many of our good friends have actually seen South Georgia and we are jealous. It is below that you’ll see the globe’s biggest king penguin nests. Often hailed as the ‘Serengeti of the Southern Ocean you’ll likewise see huge elephant seals and lively hair seals.
It’s notoriously referred to as the last relaxing location of Sir Ernest Shackleton, the epic Antarctic traveler. You can see his tomb in Grytviken, a previous whaling terminal, and learn more about the island’s background in its gallery.
South Georgia provides a few of one of the most remarkable views in the Southern Hemisphere, with sturdy alpine hills, huge glaciers, and arms. These landscapes supply a spectacular background for digital photography and expedition. It is high up on our checklist to check out.
17. Snow Hill Island
You can likewise see Emperor Penguins in South Georgia, yet if it is your objective to truly see this penguin varieties, the most effective location to see them is the Emperor Penguin Colony at Snow Hill Island. Located in the Weddell Sea, this island is off the ruined course and can be gotten to by helicopter. If you have the cash and the methods, publication a helicopter trip to see the Emperor Penguin Colony of Snow Hill and make background as being among minority individuals in the world to witness them. Bucket checklist any person?
18. King George Island
One of the initial quits as you leave from Ushuaia in South America is King George Island. Located off the coastline of Antarctica in the South Shetland Islands, King George is remarkable for organizing a number of study terminals run by different nations. These terminals play an essential function in reducing side study in the area. Some of the popular study terminals on King George Island are. Eduardo Frei Base from Chile, Great Wall Station from China, King Sejong Station from South Korea and Bellingshausen Station from Russia, simply among others.
Nestled at the southerly pointer of South America in Argentina, Ushuaia is not simply a separation factor yet a location overflowing with one-of-a-kind tourist attractions.
Before diving in to the icy continent, submerse on your own in Ushuaia’s must-do tasks. Eplore Tierra del Fuego National Park, providing a mix of glaciers, woodlands, and wild animals. Or ride the historical End of the World Train for a trip via attractive landscapes. We invested 2 days appreciating Ushuaia prior to diving in and rejoice that we did.
You should check out the Museo del Fin del Mundo to look into the area’s abundant background. You’ll be leaving Ushuaia via The Beagle Channel where you’ll see the sturdy charm of the location from your ship.
So there you have it. These are the leading points to do in Antarctica. This is a location that is transforming every year. So also if you check out in 2024, it will certainly have possibly altered once again by 2025. Let us recognize what’s altered in the remarks listed below.
Planning Resources for Antarctica