Antarctic Peninsula, an area not administered by any one nation but currently covered by the Antarctic Treaty where all territorial claims are suspended. The Peninsula is regarded by many visitors as being one of the most beautiful places on earth. It is included in the majority of trips to Antarctica for practical reasons as well as being a fantastic place to visit in its own right.
Antarctic Culture, there are not and have never been any native people of the Antarctic’s, no one even saw Antarctica until 1820 and the first year-round habitation was in 1898. There are no cities, towns or villages; the only human presence is on nationally run scientific stations with a summer population of up to around 5,000 and winter of 1,000 spread across the continent. A cruise to Antarctica may well visit one of these stations which certainly deliver a dose of a kind of culture, though not as it is understood across much of the rest of the world.
FEW OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SCENIC PENINSULA
Hope Bay, lies in the Antarctic Sound, itself sometimes known as "Iceberg Alley" providing excellent opportunities to see the fascinating shapes and myriad blues of some extraordinary icebergs.
There lie here the remains of a stone expedition hut from the Swedish Antarctic Expedition that wintered in 1903 and the more up to date facilities of the Argentinean Esperanza base.
The Lemaire Channel, may be the most famous and visually beautiful place along the peninsula.
With a nickname "Kodak Gap" by some, steep cliffs hem in the iceberg-filled passage, which is 11 km long and just 1,600 metres wide at its narrowest point. One of the peak tourist destination in Antarctica.
Paradise Harbor (also known as Paradise Bay), one of the most visited area zodiac-cruising on the ubiquitous small inflatable craft (zodiacs) that ferry everyone around in Antarctica is very popular. There are many icebergs that calve off the glacier at the harbor's head, these provide an fascinating infinite variety of shapes and shades of blue.
Ice floes also provide a floating resting spot for various seals and penguins that you may be able to view at close quarters if they aren't scared off by the boat coming up close. If you're lucky, you may see some whales swimming around too. Home to terns, petrels, cormorants, seals, penguins, and whales.
Port Lockroy is a beautiful natural harbour on Goudier Island on the Palmer archipelago, reached by passing through the towering grandiose cliffs of the Neumayer Channel. Like many sites currently occupied in Antarctica, it was used by the whaling industry after its discovery in 1903. A British base was established in 1944, named British Base "A" still standing, and it is now designated a "historic site" under the Antarctic Treaty. Since 1996, the base has been opened during the summer months by British Antarctic Survey under the guidance of the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT). It is possible to look around the renovated buildings and museum and get a flavour of what life used to be like in Antarctica on a base in the 1950's.
King George Island or also named as South Shetland Islands are a group of Antarctic islands, lying about 120 kilometres north of the Antarctic Peninsula with a total area of 3,687 square kilometres.
By the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, the islands' sovereignty is neither recognized nor disputed by the signatories and they are free for use by any signatory for non-military purposes. The islands have been claimed by the United Kingdom since 1908 and to be part of the British Antarctic Territory since 1962 named after King George III.
The Island is relatively ice-free and easy to access, compare to most of the other islands in Antarctica, an ideal spot for research stations. There is an airport owned by Chile therefore some charter flights may flight in to this island or out to Punta Arenas.
Antarctic wildlife is more plentiful than Arctic and generally shows little or no fear of humans, neither will any of it try to eat you. You will be able to see the wildlife at closer quarters in the Antarctic. Antarctica is home of penguins, they also live in other places like Australia, South Africa and Galapagos but the variety of species and authentic icy backdrop are nothing to compare. Many of Seals, whale, albatrosses, terns and cormorants can be seen too.
TRAVEL BY CRUISE
The cruise trip to Antarctic Peninsula is the most convenient way to visit Antarctica, the departure port usually from Ushuaia in Argentina, it takes less time to get there and back with the shortest distance. There is a good variety of scenery and wildlife to be seen within a relatively small area, added to this the assortment of Islands to visit on the way there and back, and the fact that less time taken and distance travelled which means it's more affordable and it's no wonder that the Antarctic Peninsula is far and away the most popular destination for visitors.
The entire peninsula is a scenic wonderland, cladding by the jagged mountain peaks in glaciers flowing, sometimes down to the sea and sometimes spilling into midair from an altitude of hundreds of feet or more. Enormous icebergs, low clouds, sudden weather changes and constant surprises from the hugely abundant wildlife, moments cannot believe what you have seen, particularly to those who first time visited the area.
~ From Tip of South America, ships leave from Ushusaia in Argentina or Punta Arenas in Chile.
~ From Australia and New Zealand, commonly from Invercargill or Port of Bluff and Lyttleton in Christchurch,
New Zealand and Hobart in Australia.
SEASON TO VISIT:- mid October to March
The Antarctic season is relatively short from mid-October to March. The temperatures to expect and to experience range from -6ºC to +10ºC (20ºF – 50ºF) throughout the duration of the season.
Weather temperature between December and February ranges around 20F to 50F or -10C to + 10C
NOTE: From April to September, Antarctica isn't navigable. No tourist access due to sea-ice closing off shipping, daylight is short and temperatures very low.
Mid October - Early December (late spring - early summer)
~ Winter pack ice begins to melt and break up, creating new landscapes of sculpted ice and pristine icebergs.
~ Courting season for penguins and seabirds - whole colonies in spectacular displays of courtship rituals.
~ Seals visible on fast ice and shorelines.
~ Spring wildflowers blooming on the Falklands and South Georgia Islands.
~ Research activity at its height.
~ Elephant and fur seals establish their breeding territories.
Late December - January (full summer)
~ Wildlife in full swing as temperatures warm and activity levels rise.
~ Late December and January are usually Antarctica's warmest months and has the longest periods of daylight.
~ On South Georgia and the Falklands, first penguin chicks emerge and fur seals are breeding.
~ Longer days create great light conditions for fabulous photo opportunities - read a newspaper on deck at midnight!
~ Seal pups visible on South Georgia and the Falklands.
~ Antarctic chicks hatch (prime penguin hatching season).
~ Whales increasingly numerous.
February - March (late summer)
~ Beautiful sunrises and sunsets create stunning photo opportunities.
~ Whale sighting at its best.
~ Penguin chicks begin to fledge.
~ Snow algae blooming.
~ Falklands' chicks leaving the nest.
~ Fur seals increasingly common on the Antarctic Peninsula
Departing from South America either from Ushuaia or Punta Arenas needed to cross the Drake Passage which takes 2 days of sailing. The passage is between the most southern tip of South America and the most northern tip of Antarctica Peninsula. The Drake Passage can be very rough experiences are variable. In the Eastern Antarctic, you will have an open sea crossing of 6 to 7 days from New Zealand or Australia.
PACKING LIST FOR POLAR CLIMATE
Recommend to bring “arctic quality” clothes that will fit into a layered clothing scheme. Like light-weight long-sleeve t-shirts, turtlenecks, and a water-proof shell is better than packing five big, cotton sweaters and two huge “winter-down” coats. Three to five pairs of active-wear pants, and a pair of waterproof pants such as ski or snowboard pants, which is designed to respond to temperatures variations.
Keep in mind that you may experience anything from t-shirt weather to artic, sub-zero snow-squalls (if you are lucky), means each day’s temperature might change quickly without time for you to change your clothes – layers are essential.
Thermal underwear (tops and bottoms): A good set of base layers are the foundation of warmth when dressing for the polar climates. Wools and synthetic fibers are best as they will draw moisture away from the body. Cotton should be avoided. Baselayers should sit next to the skin and have a slim fit. Put these on over top of your regular underwear and continue to layer. Bring two or more sets when traveling to ensure you always have a clean and dry pair.
Fleece Tops and Bottoms: For added warmth, a layer of fleece (synthetic or wool) worn over your base layers will provide additional protection from the cold during times where you may not be active. From bird-watching to zodiac cruising, an additional layer will provide maximum heat and comfort. Be sure to try them on with your base layers and waterproof pants before packing to ensure a comfortable fit.
Vests and Sweaters: A warm sweater or vest that can easily be removed is the final layer for added warmth. A full zip vest (down or wool) will keep your body core warm while allowing you to zip open or remove if you get too warm. If wearing a full sweater you may want to consider a quarter zip which allows heat to escape from the chest and neck if you overheat.
Waterproof Pants: Durable waterproof pants are essential for going ashore as you’ll likely encounter splashes of water during zodiac operations or snow while walking ashore. Make sure they fit over any base and insulating layers of pants you wear and have a wide enough leg opening to fit over top of a pair of boots (Quark supplies Muck Boots onboard).
Boots: Heavy-duty boots appropriate for walking ashore in the Polar Regions will be supplied during your expedition (depends on the cruise ship). Suggest bringing comfortable footwear for walking around the ship and on deck.
Socks: Nothing can spoil a landing like cold and wet feet. Pack extra thick warm socks made of wool or synthetic fibers. Cotton fabrics should be avoided here. Bring several pairs and you can layer on the coldest days. Bring an extra pair ashore in your day pack in the event you get wet.
Gloves: To keep your hands warm and dry at all times, consider packing two pairs of layered gloves. You’ll need a durable waterproof and insulated pair to wear ashore and while in zodiacs. Consider a pair with removable liners that allow for flexibility and for taking photographs. An extra pair is always recommended should your gloves become wet or lost during your trip.
Glove liners: A thinner pair of gloves is great to wear for short stays on the ships outer decks when a bulkier pair is not required. Some glove liners will feature touch-screen capability which allows you to use your smart phone or camera without taking your gloves off.
Hat: A warm hat can be your best friend. Fleece or thick wool is best as they are lightweight and warm. Bring a hat that’s comfortable and can cover your ears for added warmth.
Neck Gaiter / Neck warmer : More practical and lightweight that a scarf; a gaiter is the easiest way to protect your neck from the cold. Make sure it’s tall enough to pull over your mouth and nose and wide enough that it can be removed easily. A good neck can be used in multiple ways; they can be turned into a headband or a hat in a pinch!
Heat Packs: Hand and Foot Warmer packs are great to add targeted warmth where you need it most. Open a pack of hand warmers and stash them in your gloves before going ashore and you'll be warm for hours. If your day calls for hiking through snow or standing stationary to photograph wildlife, consider foot warmers to keep you comfortable.
Sunglasses: A comfortable pair of sunglasses with polarized lenses will keep the wind out of your eyes and help block the glare of the ice and snow on sunny days. Straps such as Croakies will ensure your sunglasses remain around your neck when you need to remove them.
Sunscreen: Don't let the cool temperatures fool you; the suns UV rays are strong and a few hours ashore can result in bad burn. Apply sunscreen prior to a landing to exposed skin and consider bringing a face-stick to reapply to cheeks, nose and forehead while ashore.
DAY PACKS AND DRY BAGS
Backpack: A lightweight and waterproof back pack is essential for carrying items ashore. Ensure your pack is easy to put on and remove and has enough space for camera equipment, extra socks and gloves and other on-shore essentials.
Waterproof Dry-Bags: These wonderful little packs come in a variety of sizes and keep all your gear dry. Use one for camera gear and electronics or one for extra socks. These can be tossed in a bag quickly and can be used to separate goods and toiletries when packing your suitcase.
It is absolutely essential to have adequate travel insurance covered, especially for the purposes of flight cancellation, delay or any other unexpected incidental cases occurred during the trip and to enjoy the journey with a peaceful mind. You may need to take more than one insurance policy to cover the entire trip.
Please make sure the insurance covered, meets your needs and understand its coverage.
No visa is required to visit Antarctica since the land does not belong to any nations. However, passport details are required when you booked for the cruise trip. Visa may be required in the country you landed or drop off after the cruise trip.
There is no Antarctic currency. However, if you visit Port Lockroy in the Antarctic Peninsula, U.S. dollars, Pound Sterling and Euro are accepted. Credit cards like Visa or Master Cards are accepted to be charged in USD.
It is the passengers responsibility to obtain all required travel documents, visas and permits, and for complying with the laws, regulations, orders, demands and other travel requirements of countries of origin, destination or transit.
We strongly recommend that you go to the IATA Travel Centre website http://www.iatatravelcentre.com for more information.
HEALTH INFORMATION FOR TRAVELING ( FOR TRAVELLERS FROM HONGKONG )
OUTBOUND TRAVEL ALERT ( FOR TRAVELERS FROM HONG KONG )
If you are traveling from Hong Kong and would like to know more about the outbound
Travel alert please explore the website: http://www.sb.gov.hk/eng/ota/
If you are a Hong Kong Resident holding a valid HKID card and have register a MyGovHK account, you can use the ROTI which is free of charge. Or explore the website to register.