Antarctica is the Earth’s southernmost continent. It is washed by the Southern Ocean on all the sides. The territory of the continent does not belong to any country and does not have a constant population. Argentina and Chile are the closest countries to Antarctica.
Antarctica has its own unique antarctic or polar continental climate. This is the most severe climate on the planet with frosts, strong winds, and snow storms. On the coast, the winds are stronger, but the temperature is a bit higher than near the pole. The best time for visiting Antarctica is January.
The most frequently used languages to communicate with the tourists are Spanish and English. The working language on the scientific station depends on the country which owns the station. The majority of the tourists and the staff of the scientific stations come from the Christian countries.
The tourists come to Antarctica to see the unique continent on the planet, its vast ice space, icebergs, and poor flora. When it is winter and New Year holidays in Europe, it is summer in Antarctica and the tourists strive to come here at this time when the winds and the frost are not so severe and there are more sunny days.
The tourists can come to Antarctica as a part of a sea cruise when they also visit Argentina and Chili, then head to the South Shetland Islands and, finally, to the Antarctic Peninsula and see the colonies of penguins. The tourists can also see the whales.
One more entertainment for the tourists is a flight to the South Pole and the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.
The main airport from where the planes to Antarctica depart is in Chili in the city of Punta Arenas. There are also flights from Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, but they are less popular. On the south continent, there are several airports and most often the travel to Antarctica includes the landing on the King George Island or the South Pole.
The tourists, as a rule, choose cruise ships to travel to Antarctica. The cruise ships and expedition vessels depart from the Argentinian city Ushuaia on the Tierra del Fuego. From New Zealand, the cruise ships depart to the less visited part of Antarctica, the Ross Ice Shelf.
As Antarctica does not belong to any country, a visa is not required. However, the European tourists cannot get to Antarctica directly and they have to choose a complex route through Argentina, Chili, Australia or New Zealand, they may need to obtain a visa of one of these countries.
EU citizens do not need a visa to come to these countries. People from other European countries and CIS citizens should learn beforehand if they need to obtain a visa or not. Argentina is the most liberal country in this sense.
Import and export of any currency aren’t restricted. There are no any Customs fees or other economic limits. Still, there are some international rules regulating baggage transfer.
It is prohibited to bring in:
- chemical and radioactive substances;
- certain drugs;
- any equipment and gadgets which do not satisfy UNESCO standards.
The tourists are not allowed to export from Antarctica animals, eggs of penguins, skins of other wild animals.
As there is no permanent population in Antarctica, there has never been and will never be traditional cuisine. The tourists have meals on cruise ships. The menu on the ship depends on the country from where the ship departs and on the country where the tourists are from. On the one hand, the menu on the ships is universal, on the other, it is diverse enough to satisfy the preferences of different people. If the ship is charted for a group of tourists from one country (usually, it is a small excursion ship), the menu can be adapted for such a group.
In Antarctica, the tourists do always have a chance to have meals in the dining facilities of the polar explorers. Most often, special facilities are used for the tourists. The menu is rather poor and its main characteristic is high-calories foods because in the cold climate our body consumes a lot of energy not only outside but inside as well.
There is no official currency in Antarctica. At the stations and on the cruise ships, the currency of the owning country is used or US dollars.
You cannot exchange currency in Antarctica as there are no banks and no economy.
On some cruise ships the tourists can pay with a credit card. Anyway, it is better to have enough cash as there are no ATMs in Antarctica.
Details of interest
Sightseeing in Antarctica
In Antarctica, there are no UNESCO sites. However, there are some places which are of great touristic interest.
- The Erebus Mount is the southernmost volcano on the planet and the second highest volcano in Antarctica.
- The Deception Island is one of the South Shetland Islands and it is a very popular place among the tourists. On the islands, one can see the colonies of penguins and some hot springs where anyone can have a swim.
- The Bouvet Island is an uninhabited island in the southern part of the Atlantic Ocean. This is one of the most isolated parts of the planet.
- The Paradise bay is one of the most visited places in Antarctica and anyone can get there on a cruise ship.
- The South geographic pole is the southernmost place on the planet. There is an American scientific research station.
- The Lambert Glacier is the largest outlet glacier in the world. Its width can change from 30 to 120 kilometres and it is just 500 kilometres long.
- The Dry Valleys are a vast territory which is not covered with ice or snow. These are the driest places on the planet as it has not rained or snowed here for, at least, 2.000.000 years.
Souvenirs in Antarctica
As nothing is produced in Antarctica and you cannot take the eggs of penguins, animals or their skins, the main souvenir from this place will be a selfie on the background of the local landscape. In Ushuaia and Punta Arenas, you can buy souvenirs associated with Antarctica.