They say curiosity killed the cat, but in this case curiosity led to the discovery of lands unknown to mankind. Driven by adventure, a team of Norwegian experts set out to explore a far away snow-laden stretch of wilderness in 1895. The discovery of Antarctica opened a Pandora’s Box, fuelling travellers’ wanderlust for almost two centuries now. But every adventurer who has ever ventured out to this icy wonderland has asked questions. Here are just a few of them to prep you for your expedition.
Article Credit- Sarah Merchant
Do people live here? Who are the permanent residents?
Antarctica has no permanent residents, unless you count penguins, whales and dolphins. However, you’re likely to find a large number of scientists and researchers here, not to forget the tourists who visit this continent in the summer months.
Are there any abandoned towns or cities?
Nope. No towns. No cities. Nothing. Antarctica is nothing but pure wilderness!
Who owns this continent?
No one! In 1959, 48 nations signed the Antarctica Treaty designating the continent as ‘a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science’ a.k.a., a free land with no government and no ownership. So if the cold doesn’t bother you, you know where to go.
How do I visit Antarctica?
To get to Antarctica, you need to fly to Ushuaia. This little city lies in the far south of Argentina and is nicknamed as “fin del mundo” (The end of the world). Many tourist expedition ships to Antarctica leave from this city.
Do I need a visa to enter Antarctica?
Since no one owns Antarctica, you don’t need a visa. However, since you need to step on Argentinian land to board a ship to this continent, you need an Argentina visa.
PS: The Argentinian tourist visa is free for Indians.
What is it like to be a tourist in Antarctica?
Since there are no towns or hotels in Antarctica, your days here are spent aboard an expedition cruise ship. However, some tourists also prefer to go trekking in this white wonderland.
Related Package: Antarctica Classic; 11 Days, Ushuaia to Ushuaia
What animals am I likely to encounter here?
This is the last true wilderness on Earth and you’re likely to see a number of amazing animals. You might come across adelie penguins, weddell seals, emperor penguins, leopard seals, king penguins, killer whales, and albatrosses in the Antarctic. Baby penguins, here we come!
Is it true that the sun sets and rises only once in six months?
Yes, it’s absolutely true! During the summer months, the sun stays above the horizon, continually moving in circles around the observer.
Then how do the people here see time?
Since Antarctica has no official time zone, the scientists/tourists here follow the time from back home or just abide by the US time zone.
When should I visit Antarctica?
The best time to visit Antarctica is between November and March when sunshine is abundant and the ice melts enough to allow access to ships.
Why is Antarctica classified as a desert?
The continent of Antarctica barely gets any rain or snow, which puts it in the same category as deserts. Believe it or not, it rains more in the Sahara Desert than it does in Antarctica. The whiteness you see here is not fresh snow, but the result of decades of accumulated ice that never melts.
How do people survive the cold here?
They layer up! The answer is loads of warm clothes that cover your feet, ankles, hands, wrists, head and body. Actually, make sure you cover everything you can. Most people use multiple layers of synthetic fibre as it keeps you warm. But most importantly, the colder it gets, the harsher the UV rays become, so remember to use sunscreen and wrap-round goggles. It’s an absolute must!
I want to attempt the polar plunge…is it safe? How cold can the water get?
The water is super cold; usually around -1 degree Celsius, but with the proper harnesses and equipment, it is completely safe to dive in … But are you brave enough to take the jump?
What kind of jobs are available here?
Jobs for scientists are, sadly, the main only kind of jobs you will find here. So, the only way you can stay on in this enchanting wonderland is if you are a scientist or a tourist.
Does Antarctica have electricity?
Yes, it does! The research centres and bases are usually powered by diesel-powered generators. And since Antarctica is the windiest place on earth, some bases even use large wind turbines for their supplementary electricity.
How many people visit Antarctica in a year?
Believe it or not, more than 45,000 people visit this continent every year.
Take this count to 45,001 with a visit to the white wilderness of Antarctica. We promise you won’t be disappointed. Also, have you ever wondered if whales bang into icebergs? Let us know in the comments section below.
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