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Things to do in Antarctica

By Edited Jun 3, 2016 2 2

Why Would You Want to go to Antarctica?

The simple answer for most people is that a trip to Antarctica is on their bucket list (ie things they want to see or do before they die)

There are no towns or cities. There are no hotels as we know them. There are no official airports. How do you get there and what do you do when you're there?

We've got the answers coming up, but first, some fun facts about Antarctica.

  • For the most part, Antarctica has six months of days, followed by six months of nights. I spend much of my time in the Arctic, so I am used to 24 hours of daylight in the summer and no natural light in the winter. I never get tired of the beauty of the "midnight sun".
  • There are more than two dozen research stations on Antarctica and the surrounding Islands. Some operate only during the daylight months. Others are open all year. The largest is the U.S. McMurdo station which can house more than 1000 people.
  • In 1978 Emilio Palmas made history by being the first baby born in Antarctica. Now more than a  dozen people can lay claim to owning the coolest birth certificates on the planet.
  • There is no human indigenous population on the continent. No country "owns" Antarctica however in the past, seven countries have laid claims to the continent and some of those claims were overlapping. Now it is governed under a treaty signed by 46 countries who have made a commitment to keep it free, safe, and demilitarized, and to protect it's environment.
  • Antarctica is the windiest, driest and coldest continent on the planet.  The coldest record on earth is -128.6 F (-89.2C) recorded at Russia’s Vostok Station in 1983. The continent gets less than eight inches of precipitation a year.
  • Almost the entire continent is covered in ice that measures at least a mile in thickness.



Get me to Antarctica

The most popular way to get to Antarctica is by cruise ship. These ships tend to be on

the smaller side, with less than 200 passengers, which provides an intimate experience and gives you plenty of opportunities to get to know your fellow adventure speakers.


  • Most Antarctic cruise travel takes place between November and February when the temperature is warmer, there's lots of daylight, and the ice ice more navigable.
  • Most cruises last between a week and a month. Popular destinations include the Weddell Sea, the Ross Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula.
  • Many ships offer on-board experts who deliver lectures on wildlife, history, glaciology and geology.
  • If you are traveling to the Antarctic Peninsula your cruise will leave from Ushuaia Argentina.
  • Ross Sea and Eastern Antarctica trips usually begin and end in either Australia or New Zealand.
  • Expect to spend between $5,000 and $15,000 for the cruise. It pays to shop around. You may find a deal or a last minute discount.
  • That price does not include travel to and from your departure point and land hotels.
  • Travel insurance may be expensive. If you become ill or injured on board ship your may have to be removed by helicopter.
  • Itineraries may change due to weather conditions.
  • Tours and land activities usually cost extra. Get a list of options and prices before you leave.

Antarctic Activities

Cruise ships offer a range of activities. Some require a good degree of physical fitne

ss. Others are as comfortable as sitting on your couch at home.

Options can vary greatly between ships, so it's wise to factor that in when your choose your cruise line.

Many ships offer warm winter gear you can wear while you are on the cruise.

  • Some ships offer helicopter flight seeing. (dependant on the weather)
  • Most offer opportunities to get close to Antarctic wildlife which has, for the most part, not developed a fear of humans. Penguins will often come right up to visitors. They are as curious about you as you are about them.
  • You may be able to go camping for one or two nights on shore. Tents and all gear are supplied.
  • Shorter day or half day hiking trips may also be available.
  • You can go scuba diving.
  • You can go whale watching.
  • You can go kayaking.
  • Bring your camera and prepare to be wowed. Satisfaction amongst Antarctic cruise line passengers is very high.


Can't Make the Cruise? Take the Five Minute Video Tour.

How About Running a Marathon?

Marathon runners are, by nature, goal setters.

I've met runners who are fulfilling their dreams of running a marathon is every state, province and territory in North America.

Others have a more lofty goal. They want to finish a marathon on every continent.

The Arctic Ice Marathon also has a half marathon, mile race and a 100 km Ultra Race.

For roughly $16,000 US dollars you get:

  • Round trip air from Punta Arenas, Chile to the Union Glacier camp in central Antarctica.
  • Five nights accommodations and food.
  • Entry into the race of your choice.
  • Commemorative photographs
  • Stay for two more weeks and climb Vincent Massif, the highest peak in Antarctica.

In case you're wondering, there is a marathon at the North Pole. You can learn more about it and other exciting marathons at http://www.infobarrel.com/The_Ten_Most_Dangerous_Marathons_and_Ultra_Marathons_in_the_World


The Arctic Ice Marathon. Lace up Your Sneakers and go for a Run

Going to Work in Antarctica

Antarctic's research stations are manned by scientists. Some are based at the stations. Others are seconded to the area to work on specific projects.

Scientists need support staff. They need mechanics, cooks, plumbers, electricians and more.

There may be tourism jobs available, and occasionally there are even opportunities for artists to live and work in Antarctica.

The lifestyle is not for everyone. Can you function being isolated from your friends and family? Can you live for months with no sunlight, or months when the sun shines 24 hours a day? Can you deal with the harsh weather?

Remember, you can't just quit your job and jump on a bus home. There are long stretches when you literally can not leave.

If you are interested, see if your country operates a research station on Antarctica and what types of jobs are available.

In most cases, you won't get rich working in Antarctica. While the work and living conditions may be difficult, there is a lot of competition for employment on the continent.

It would, after all, look great on your resume.


Antarctica: An Intimate Portrait of a Mysterious Continent
Amazon Price: $27.00 $7.95 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 3, 2016)
It's always fun to read before you go,
Lonely Planet Antarctica (Travel Guide)
Amazon Price: $28.99 $15.48 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 3, 2016)
From the "Lonely Planet", a great travel guide.
Antarctica Cruising Guide: Includes Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Ross Sea
Amazon Price: $59.32 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 3, 2016)
A great guide to take with you on your cruise.
Aurora World 12" Emperor Mama And Baby Penguin
Amazon Price: $15.99 $11.90 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 3, 2016)
A cute penguin to get you in the mood

Not Ready to Kick the Bucket

Is a trip to Antarctica on your bucket list?

It's definitely on mine!



Jan 31, 2013 5:58pm
Hi--Great article--I have always wanted to at least see the region but never have. Nevertheless, 2 thumbs up from me and a rating
Feb 28, 2013 6:20pm
Antarctica is one place I haven't been yet. But - you never know... I might end up there for something or other at some point.

Really neat idea for an article and well executed.
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