Antarctica

Essentials

Size: 14.25m km²

Population: 1,200

Currency: Bases in Antarctica generally accept US dollars.

Language: International

Visas: Not required for the continent but check departure point.

When to go: November to mid-March, unless you fancy round-the-clock darkness and temperatures below -50°C.

South America is the most popular gateway to Antarctica, the last great wilderness in the world. Cold, wind-beaten and desolate, the continent boasts the lowest temperature ever recorded, at -90°C, yet for many it is the most beautiful place on the planet.

The coastline is teeming with rare wildlife; gigantic icebergs and vast mountain ranges reflect in the freezing water; and the continent shivers under a blanket of snow and ice. It is like nowhere else on earth. Cruises run during the Antarctic summer, from November to mid- March. This is the only way to reach unique landscapes such as the Ross Ice Shelf, a glistening mass of floating ice the size of France, and Paradise Harbour, Antarctica's most beautiful bay. But it is the wildlife that attracts most visitors: you'll be taken ashore in rubber Zodiacs to see some of the world's rarest bird life, including the endangered wandering albatross, plus Minke whales and seals.

Then there are the penguins - thousands of them. Visit in November, the beginning of the Antarctic summer, to see them courting; through December and January the chicks are born; and during the last days of the Austral summer, in February and March, watch the impossibly cute youngsters head out to sea.


All text is © Latin American Travel Association and may not be used in any form without permission. LATA is a trade organisation and we welcome membership from any company or individual who share our aims and objectives. Whilst care is taken to ensure that our members are bona fide, prospective clients are recommended to make their own enquiries before entering into any agreement.

Getting there