Established: 1959 (Antarctic Treaty signed 1 December 1959)
Population: Approximately 4,000 (in Summer months)
Original Treaty Countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America
Order of Visit: Forty-Second
First Visit: 8 November 2012
Last Visit: 18 November 2012
Duration: 11 Days
Must Do Experiences: Camping on the Antarctic Continent, Walking on a moving iceberg, Antarctica Convergence (where the ocean’s hot and cold currents meet), Enjoy wild zodiac rides, Endure a Polar Plunge, Experience the magnificent wildlife; Gentoo Penguins, Chinstrap Penguins, Macaroni Penguins, Weddell Seals, Humpback Whale, and Killer Whales
Places: Drake Passage, Beagle Channel, Half Moon Island, Deception Island, Livingston Island, Paradise Bay, Enterprise Island, Peterman Island, Pleneau Bay, Cuverville Island, Jougla Point, Antarctica Continent, Danko Island, Neko Harbour
Antarctic Journal Entries
This is the seventh and last of the seven continents that I have now visited. While technically not a country the International Antarctic Treaty of 1959 established the rules and laws for Antarctica.
Antarctica is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents. Antarctica is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents.
Antarctica was the last region on Earth in recorded history to be discovered, unseen until 1820 by a Russian expedition. Twelve countries signed the Antarctic Treaty in 1959, and thirty-eight have signed it since then. The treaty prohibits military activities and mineral mining, prohibits nuclear explosions and nuclear waste disposal, supports scientific research, and protects the continent’s eco-zone.
Antarctica is the coldest of Earth’s continents. It used to be ice-free until about 34 million years ago, when it became covered with ice. In late 1996 and early 1997 the Norwegian explorer Børge Ousland became the first human to cross Antarctica alone from coast to coast.
Getting to Antarctica mostly means by speciality designed ships for this climate, or in the summer months scientific personnel get flown into some of the bases. Most tourist ships leave from Argentina but research vessels also leave from Australia and New Zealand. McMurdo Station is a United States Antarctic research station on the south tip of Ross. The station is the largest community in Antarctica, capable of supporting up to 1,258 personnel and operates year round.
Antarctic sightseeing flights operated out of Australia and New Zealand until the fatal crash of Air New Zealand Flight 901 in 1979 on Mount Erebus, which killed all 257 aboard. Qantas resumed occasional commercial overflights to Antarctica from Australia in the mid-1990s to this day.
What I Experienced
The air is cold, crisp and very clear with no real pollution. In summer months, when tourist can visit including me, the sun never went down which was a bit weird.
There were special rules for visitors starting with the need to have two ships close enough to each other to be able to mount a quick rescue if needed, I never saw the other ship but I knew it was close enough if necessary.
Whenever I visited an island or the continent I had to carefully clean my boats and take care to not damage or leave anything or interfere with the wildlife. Antarctica does feel like the end of the world, you are mostly cut of from the rest of the world meaning very few distractions from the sights and wildlife around you. The penguins, birds, sea lions and whales displayed such beauty.
An amazing and remote continent which is well worth visiting despite the high costs and inconvenience of travelling there. I really understand privilege I have been financially well of enough to experience this beauty. You can’t but be humbled during a visit to Antarctica.