Antarctica is one of the most remote, magnificent, and awe-inspiring destinations on the planet. Although the continent frequently makes the top five destinations on any adventurer’s bucket list, many travelers are not adequately prepared to plan their itinerary and therefore miss out on some of the must-see sights in Antarctica.
If you think that all you will see in Antarctica are snow and icebergs, you could not be more wrong. Antarctica is teeming with wildlife and home to some of the most diverse and endangered species on earth. Many cruises offer Antarctic itineraries and promise to combine the comfort of luxury cruising with the excitement that comes from embarking on an exploration vessel. To get the most from this once in a lifetime experience, make sure that your cruise stops at the following destinations.
1) Falkland Islands & Port Stanley
This remote region is one of the best places in the world to view the island’s wildlife from the deck of the ship. The Falkland Islands are part of the Antarctic zone and maintain strong connections to Patagonia’s flora and fauna in mainland South America. Travelers can experience firsthand what it feels like to get up close to penguins. Strolling along the lovely and quaint streets of Stanley will give you a taste of remote island living and provide ample opportunities for souvenir shopping. Visiting the region is one of the top must-see sights in Antarctica
Port Stanley is the capital of the Falkland Islands, located on the southwest coast of East Falkland, it is the most populated and developed of the two main Islands. Take time to learn more about the island’s unique culture and customs and explore the clippers stranded here over a century ago. The capital is also a great spot to grab a pint and experience the fun dining scene.
2) Blood Falls
Blood Falls is a strange attraction, unique in Antarctica and the world. The five-story, blood-red, slowly oozing falls are created by iron oxide-tainted saltwater, which flows from the Taylor Glacier onto the ice-covered surface of West Lake Bonney in East Antarctica. Although the scene can appear unnerving the destination is definitely one of the hidden gems in Antarctica
3) The Drake Passage
Most cruises travel through the Drake Passage, which is the body of water between South America’s Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica. Widely considered the most unforgettable sea crossing in the world, this passage is an exhilarating, legend-worthy adventure. The Drake Passage is infamously rough because due to the strong currents and high winds. Most reputable expedition vessels are equipped with stabilizers, which absorb much of the swaying and limit seasickness. However, don’t worry; once you’re in Antarctica, the seas are protected, and sailing is generally smooth. While crossing the Drake Passage, you can observe more of Antarctica’s sea creatures and birdlife. It is also a perfect place for you to reminisce about your Antarctica experience.
4) Cruising the South Atlantic
South Georgia is one of the most remote and least visited places on the planet, making it a favorite spot among travelers who want to experience Antarctica’s native marine animals and untouched wilderness. There is no permanent human population in South Georgia, although Antarctic Survey personnel occupy two research stations. Let your eyes feast on the majestic glacier-carved coves and the ruggedness of its beautiful shores.
A visit to Salisbury Plain on the north coast of South Georgia offers an unforgettable wildlife experience. The area is home of beautiful king penguins. Capture images of these incredible mammals and share them with your friends. One interesting fact is that unlike most species, kings don’t feed on krill. Instead, their diet consists mainly of fish and squid.
5) Deception Islands Baily Head
Deception Island sits towards the southwestern end of the South Shetland Islands. The area is well known for its volcanic activity and protected inner harbor. This region is home to thousands of Chinstrap Penguins whose colonies dominate the islands. Most ships that visit Deception Island enter the caldera through a narrow opening known as Neptune’s Bellows. Few ships brave the island’s rugged outer coast.
The large waves pound the volcanic debris into a fine, black sand beach, which is home to the chinstrap penguins. Dominican gulls and Cape Pigeons are also abundant in this region and are an excellent attraction for bird enthusiasts. Spectacular scenery combined with the remoteness of the location makes Deception Island one of the best hidden gems in Antarctica.
Baily Head is situated on the east end of the island. Take a lovely hike along the Baily Head to enjoy nature at its best and capture the magnificent views. Making landfall requires favorable wind and swell conditions but provides an opportunity for lucky visitors to access the steep beach and find the penguin colony.
6) Grytviken of South Georgia
Grytviken was once the largest whaling station in South Georgia and part of the British Overseas Territory. Some cruises also offer a leisurely visit to the village, where it’s a common occurrence to see King Penguins walking in the streets. Shackleton’s reunion with civilization in South Georgia made the whaling station famous. Visit Shackleton’s grave and King Edwards Point to learn a bit about the history of the region.
7) Sailing through Lemaire Channel
The Lemaire Channel is a strait off Antarctica, between Kiev Peninsula in the mainland’s Graham Land and Booth Island. Sailing through the iceberg-filled passage, travelers find themselves surrounded by towering ice cliffs and Adelie Penguins. Nicknamed ‘Kodak Alley,’ it is incredibly photogenic and blissfully calm.
If you are lucky enough to be on a cruise that lands at Pleneau Island, you will have a chance to spot Elephant Seals and observe Humpback, Minke, and Fin Whales in their natural habitat.
8) South Orkney Islands
Although there are thousands of incredible places to see along the Antarctic continent, the South Orkney Islands are one of the must-see sights in Antarctica. Forming part of the Scotia Sea Islands tundra, these islands are home to incredible wildlife. Some cruise will take you to Laurie Island, where you can visit the Argentine Orcadas base. The scientific station is one of the oldest in Antarctica. This region is also the place where the Southern Giant Petrels breed. If you are lucky enough to gain permission from the base, you can visit the Adeline Penguin colony at Punta Cormorant.
9) Great Whale Watching Experience
Close encounters with whales are a highlight for any traveler approaching the sea-ice. Enjoy the splendid sighting of a magnificent South Polar Skua or a Snow Petrel, both marvelous Antarctic animals. As your vessel approaches the ice, keep an eye out for Minke Whales, Sei Whales, Sperm Whales, Blue Whales, Humpbacks, Killer Whales, and other unique creatures.
10) The South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula
Cruise itineraries that incorporate these regions allow travelers to explore Paulet Island on foot. Getting up close and personal with the Adelie Penguin colony is an unforgettable experience. The cruise should also take you to the Brown Bluff, where you can stand on a magnificent volcanic area. For an especially memorable experience, explore the splendid and majestic table icebergs at the Weddell Sea.
Boutique Travel Advisors is a full-service, luxury travel agency. We specialize in creating bespoke itineraries for discerning clients around the world. Please visit our website or call 480-787-1477 to speak with a dedicated travel expert.
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