Antarctica Activity Highlights
On Antarctica's shores you can see a myriad of Antarctic wildlife up close and personal, other Antarctic activities include mountain climbing, kayaking and scuba diving.
Antarctica Activity Highlights Overview
Antarctica is a continent alive with wildlife. Watch adelie, gentoo or chinstrap penguins, crabeater, southern elephant, leopard or weddell seals, or the great humpback and killer whales.
Mountain climbing is another popular onshore activity and there is even the occasional Antarctic marathon.
Visits ashore are generally of short duration and in small numbers. Most of these landings are made using 'Zodiacs'—rubber inflatable crafts—or sometimes by helicopter.
Kayaking and scuba diving are also possible from some tourist vessels.
Paradise Harbour, also know as Paradise Bay, is one of Antarctica's most visited areas. 'Zodiac cruising' on the inflatable Zodiac crafts is the most popular activity. The ice flows here provide a resting spot for various penguins and seals which you may be able to view up close if they are not scared off by the boat. If you are really lucky you may also spot whales in the area.
A British base was established at Port Lockroy in 1944 and it is now a "historic site" under the Antarctic Treaty. Since the late 1990s the base has been opened during the summer by British Antarctic Survey under the guidance of the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust.
Here it is possible to look around the museum and renovated buildings to get a flavour of what life used to be like in Antarctica on a base in the 1950s. There is even a gift shop and post office where letters and postcards can be franked before being placed on the next available ship for transport to their destination.
Port Lockroy is currently the most visited site in Antarctica drawing in about 6,000 tourists each summer.
There is also a nearby rookery of gentoo penguins for which an environmental monitoring programme was established to investigate potential disturbance from tourists and other visitors in the area. However it appears that so far the many visitors to the area have had no real impact on the penguin's breeding success.
Antarctic Bases and Stations
Antarctic bases and stations are occupied mostly by staff from one particular country, as they are run usually by that country's government.
You will find that some bases and stations are more tourist friendly that others, depending on their policies and staff.
These bases are an excellent opportunity to a seldom seen aspect of Antarctic life.
You may get an extra slide-show (tourist ships may supply lunch and entertainment while base staff give a slide-show in return—a traditional role passed on through the "generations" of over-winter staff). Guided tours of the local environs and the opportunity to buy or trade t-shirts etc may also be negotiated.