When I shared news about my trip to Antarctica, some friends and family were genuinely puzzled. In fact, they didn’t understand why anyone would want to go to such a cold, harsh and remote place. When I set sail to the Arctic last summer, a close friend from Iceland even asked me, “Why the Arctic?” he remarked, “There’s nothing to see but ice!” (How ironic, with him being from the Arctic and all.)
It wasn’t the first time I’d heard such comments, especially since we’ve always been drawn to unconventional and obscure places like North Korea and Madagascar, but I’ve never taken the time to explain to my friends or family what it is that draw us to these places and why we would jump through hoops to make them a reality. It’s about time.
Since I’m just about to hop on my expedition cruise to Antarctica with G Adventures, I thought it’s the perfect moment to share with you why I’ve always wanted to visit this hostile yet attractive continent.
Exploring the Unexplored
It’s harsh, it’s remote, and it’s truly far beyond. The fact that Antarctica is at the edge of the world is the biggest draw for me. With such a remote location and such harsh conditions, Antarctica is largely unexplored and therefore relatively untouched. Seeing places that have been destroyed by tourism saddens me, so it’s going to be extremely refreshing to visit a place that has still not been interfered by human activities.
With towering glaciers (some as tall as mountains), mammoth icebergs and jagged sharp peaks, Antarctica’s beauty is undeniable. There are few places like Antarctica in terms of dramatic landscapes and jaw-dropping terrain. During my trip to the Arctic, I’d heard that the Antarctic landscapes were even more impressive and had been curious to find out more myself ever since. Another factor that has drawn me to Antarctica is its myriad of wildlife: leopard seals, whales, and thousands of penguins. For those who have been reading our blog for awhile, you probably know that we are wildlife buffs and have traveled to many places just to see the wildlife on offer. I’m really looking forward to walking amidst rookeries of penguins – let’s keep our fingers crossed!
Sense of Urgency
According to research, the global warming effect on Antarctica is five times as strong as anywhere else. Studies from the U.S. Geological Survey Office show that every ice front in the southern part of the Antarctic Peninsula has been retreating overall from 1947 to 2009, with the most dramatic changes occurring since 1990. In the last fifty years, the continent has experienced a warming of around 4.5F, or 2.5C. A large number of Antarctic penguins have suffered due to these changes. The population of the ubiquitous Antarctic penguin, the Adelie Penguin, has reduced by more than 33% in the last 25 years. Antarctica is one of the places to see before it disappears forever, and it’s also a place that gives a real wake-up call.
My Seventh Continent
I don’t believe in keeping count of passport stamps or the number of the countries I’ve been to, but there’s something appealing about visiting the seventh continent. Perhaps it’s because this is a continent so highly inaccessible? Or maybe it’s because few have even considered visiting it? Who knows. I’ll just have to find out for myself.
What about you? What country has always fascinated you and when are you planning on making it a reality?
*I’m traveling with G Adventures on the Antarctica Classic In Depth (XVAESX) trip. Follow my journey on this blog, or on Twitter, where I’ll be sharing short updates along the way with the #WJAntarctica hashtag. I’ll be back with reports from Antarctica in two weeks’ time, meanwhile Alberto and I have prepared a whole slew of articles from recent trips, enjoy!
Disclaimer: This experience is made possible by G Adventures as a part of their Wanderers In Residence program. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. All the photos above were provided by G Adventures.