Why I’m Going to Antarctica

Posted on November 19, 2012 by

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.

Immense Beauty

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.

About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is a professional travel writer and blogger with a special interest in off-grid destinations and adventure travel. Her mission is to visit every country in the world. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Iceland, swam with sealions in the Galapagos, built a school in Tanzania, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, crossed into North Korea and drank beer in Palestine.

12 Responses to “Why I’m Going to Antarctica”

  1. John Williams November 19, 2012 5:05 pm #

    Nellie, sounds like a fantastic opportunity to discover Antarctica in relative comfort.. I'm sure the experience will be stimulating.
    In this post you highlight Climate Change as a severe threat to the Polar Regions. How does this knowledge affect the way you travel and write about it?

    • Nellie December 3, 2012 2:29 pm #

      Thanks John! Climate change has affected the entire world but the impact is felt so much more in the polar regions – one really gets to understand the effects of global warming in places like these. I guess the more I learn about it, the more conscious I am about how I travel and the footprint I am leaving behind. I wrote a piece earlier this year on the impact that tourism has had on Halong Bay, Vietnam – and hope that my writing will inspire readers to be more aware of the environment.

  2. @DiscoveringIce November 19, 2012 9:36 pm #

    Amazing! So jealous…sounds like the exact same reasons I would choose if I was going! Enjoy!

  3. Jesse November 20, 2012 1:38 am #

    You're so lucky to actually have all the continents in your tracks. I think it would be just a dream to me especially visiting Antartica. I might not survive wit hthe cold there.

  4. Encarna Jurado November 20, 2012 6:37 am #

    Hola Nellie, espero que disfrutes del viaje y nos hagas llegar tus experiencias

    • Nellie December 3, 2012 2:30 pm #

      Hola Encarna! Os he enviado un postcard desde Antarctica, espero que llegue pronto!

  5. ErIn November 22, 2012 7:51 am #

    You’re so right! I just did this excursion with G Adventures on the M/S Expedition and it was one of the best trips of my life… Just so much MORE than I expected. Enjoy your adventure in the White Continent!

  6. Danny November 28, 2012 4:13 am #

    So sad to see the demise of these penguins and this region as a whole. Haven't been myself but hope to get there one day.

  7. outlet December 11, 2012 10:54 pm #

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  8. Christy of Flipflopsabroad Travel Blog December 13, 2012 12:30 pm #

    Wow, I’m so jealous! I’m actually on my way to Argentina now from Peru through Bolivia and haven’t yet decided if I’ll try for Antarctica yet. I look forward to hearing about your trip!

  9. Jonny Blair January 18, 2013 9:31 am #

    Thanks for sharing! I actually did the same trip as you with GAP Adventures! Amazing times and it was my 6th continent at the time (I've since added AFrica to make it 7!). What a magical place. Jonny

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