antarctica’s top 5

adelie penguins antarcticaDecember and January bring the longest days of summer in Antarctica, when you can see penguin chicks hatching, seals sunbathing on ice floes and whales feeding in the nutrient-rich waters. With all this going on, Intrepid traveller Liz Grady gives you 5 good reasons why you won’t want to see the sun set of this adventure of a lifetime…

1 – 24hr sunlight – When I woke the first morning in Antarctica, peering through the window to see bright blue sky and a seal on an iceberg was enough to get me out of bed. Puzzled that no one else seemed to be up I tracked down a clock, only to realise it was 2am! It’s a challenge to wrap your mind around 24 hours of daylight, but it is a blessing when you discover how much there is to explore in this surreal environment.

2 – wildlife – I spied fur and leopard seals, the mighty albatross, snow petrels and skuas, adelie and chinstrap penguins, and the most spectacular wildlife event I have ever witnessed. Just metres away from me a pod of hungry killer whales chased a humpback whale and its calf under and around towering icebergs for over an hour. And all that was just in the first two days!

3 – out-of-this-world wilderness – Antarctica really is the last frontier. It is the world’s most mountainous continent and the dramatic landscape of this pristine wonderland will pierce your memory for years to come. Icebergs the size of skyscrapers, iridescent blue glaciers and blind-white shelves of pack ice… so surreal and spectacular is Antarctica that I spent much of my time there in disbelief that this unspoiled land was actually part of our planet.

4 – remote – Antarctica is about as remote as remote gets. With a population that averages 2500 across a continent that extends 14,245,000 square km, the chance of accidentally running into someone is pretty slim! And there’s something seriously special about that.

5 – the silence – In today’s frenetic, gadget-bleeping, computer beeping world, simple peace and quiet is becoming fairly elusive. The silence that enshrouds this mystical continent is only punctuated by whales blowing and provides an opportunity to still the mind that some yoga-devotees work their whole lives to achieve.

* photo by Simon Pugsley – Intrepid Photography Competition

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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Hi Isobel,
I agree – Antarctica is certainly an incredible destination. In November it’s early summer, so temperatures ranging from -5ºC to +10ºC. This is when the ice is at its most spectacular and it’s mating and nesting season for penguins and other birds. Definitely no need to bring any clothes that aren’t practical for this trip – layered clothing is the way to go, starting with long underwear and working your way up to waterproof outer layers. You can find a full list of what to take in our trip notes of any of our itineraries, under ‘check list’.
Hope we get to see you aboard the M/V Polar Star in 2011.
Best wishes, Sue, Intrepid Express editor'

Oh Antarctica!!!!! …… How I so want to go…….. I am thinking of travelling around Novemebr 2011 – what type of gear do I need? I tend not to travel glammed up – practical clothing only. What would I need to have in an Antarctica wardrobe at that time of the year? Thanks!

Hi Brian,
As a fellow motion sickness sufferer, two of my favourite things are ‘travel bands’ and ginger. Travel bands are made by various companies, but basically they are elastic bands for your wrists with a little pressure point button that seems to help stop the nausea. I have used these on cargo ship cruises before and also for rough helicopter and light aircraft flights with great success. Ginger sweets or travel calm tablets are also great for settling the stomach.
Antarctica is such an incredible journey, so I hope these tips help you enjoy smooth sailing and your doctor might have some other recommendations too.
Best wishes, Sue, Intrepid Express editor'

Found your thoughts interesting.
Thinking of going – tell me how do your prepare for the sea voyage when one is suspectible to sea sickness (the rough weather etc) ?

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