Only a few people visited the driest continent on our planet, where the humidity is drier than in the Sahara Desert, with no states, no borders and with the world’s largest and deepest subglacial lake, which has been isolated from the outside world for millions of years, where ancient microorganisms live and what they can bring us, science still does not know! This is the most unexplored place on the planet. Intrigued? Then welcome to the Antarctic!
There is a difference between Antarctica and the Antarctic. Antarctica is a land continent. The Antarctic is a region that includes the continent of Antarctica, the Southern Ocean, islands and archipelagos. The northern boundary of the Antarctic is the area where the cold waters of the Southern Ocean collide with the warm waters of the other adjacent oceans. Antarctica is the most enclosed and coldest continent on Earth. In order to come here you will need to get a special permit or use the services of travel companies that have a license to carry out tourist activities in this region. And it should be noted that not every company can get such a permit. It is connected with the fact that this region is protected by a special international legal regime, which is called the Antarctic Treaty System, and this legal regime is controlled by a specially created for this purpose international organization – the Secretariat of the Antarctic Treaty. This is the same as the UN organization, but only it controls the activity in the Antarctic. And this is the only region in the world that has a separate Treaty! The basis of this Treaty is that the Antarctic is used exclusively for peaceful purposes and any military activities, any types of weapons, nuclear explosions and nuclear waste disposal are prohibited. The basis for the use of this continent is scientific research.
The Antarctic is a region where any claim to ownership of territory is prohibited as long as the Antarctic Treaty is in force. And taking into account the fact that this Treaty is indefinite, there will never be any state borders there.
The nature of the Antarctic is unique. Only here is the coldest place in the world, where the temperature is recorded – 89.2 ° C or -128.6 °F. Antarctica is the highest continent in the world. The average altitude of the continent above sea level is about 2000 meters and the highest point is 4892 meters. There are very many mountain systems and mountain ranges in Antarctica. Therefore, for mountaineering enthusiasts there is a unique opportunity to conquer heights on the coldest continent of the planet, and for lovers of alpine skiing to discover new slopes. Despite the fact that Antarctica is the driest continent on Earth, there are both rivers and lakes here. And even in summer, most of them are covered with mirror ice, which gives a rare chance to skate, snowkiting, iceboat or play hockey here.
The diversity of fauna in the Antarctic is amazingly unique. Taking into account the fact that nature protection in the Antarctic is regulated by the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, which in essence is analogous to a nature reserve, the animal world feels at ease here and is rightfully the master of these places. While kayaking, you can meet whales, killer whales, dolphins, seals, elephant seals and leopard seals. Well, penguins may even ride together with you, brazenly jumping on the kayak. Walking along the shore you will definitely meet penguin colonies, seals basking in the sun and elephant seals, and if you are lucky, you will see a battle for the female of these impressive animals. The scenery that surrounds you here deserves a special mention.
Walking along the ocean shore, on one side you will be accompanied by mountains, ridges, cliffs. Mountain waterfalls in summer are not rare here. Turning your gaze towards the ocean, you will definitely see icebergs, and if you are lucky, you will be able to watch them turn over. Moving a little farther away from the shore, you can suddenly discover an ice cave, where the blue translucent ice creates the atmosphere of an ice castle from a fairy tale. Climbing up to the mountain ridge, you will be able to contemplate the beauty of virgin nature that spreads out below you from a bird’s eye view. And somewhere in the distance you will see a solid white strip of snowy plain. When you reach it, you will realize that there is nothing further but snowy desert and ringing silence. This is the quietest place on Earth! The best place for calming down and meditation.
But there is also an active life in the Antarctic, concentrated at the research stations. By the way, 48 year-round stations operate in Antarctica. Also 40 airfields are ready to receive airplanes with polar explorers and tourists. At some stations there are even bank terminals where you can withdraw money from your bank card, post offices from where you can send postcards to your relatives and even stores. For example, at the Chilean station «Presidente Eduardo Frei Montalva» on King George Island, there is even a kindergarten and a school. Few people know that there are monuments and even museums in the Antarctic. In total, there are about 80 historical places and monuments in the Antarctic. Perhaps the most famous museum is Scott’s Hut, located on the northern shore of Cape Evans on Ross Island. There are also churches in the Antarctic. For example, on King George Island there are two of them. At the Chilean station «Presidente Eduardo Frei Montalva» and at the Russian station «Bellingshausen Station». At the Indian stations «Maitri» and «Bharati» there are prayer rooms, where saints of all faiths of the planet are gathered and a person of any faith can pray there.
The development of tourism in the Antarctic began since the late 1950s. Only in the years 2019-2020 about 74000 tourists visited the Antarctic. Mostly it is of course sea cruises to the Antarctic Peninsula region, which can be reached in a few days from seaports in South America, but there are also flights from Australia and from South Africa. Yachting enthusiasts can also visit this region. Tourists have a variety of options, from premium luxury cruises to accommodation in tented camp. Hiking, skiing, scuba diving, kayaking, mountaineering, water boat tours, snowkiting, SUP surfing, alpine skiing, all against a backdrop of incredible icy landscapes await you in Antarctica. If you have the spirit of a true traveler in you, the Antarctic is the place you must visit!
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