Why you should visit Antarctica
I want to introduce the fifth-largest continent of earth, almost twice the size of Australia, and almost 98% of the continent is covered by ice - Antarctica. Throughout this article, you will get answers to questions like how to visit Antarctica, how many tourists visit Antarctica each year, and the best time to visit Antarctica. We know that every land has its kingdom, republic, and population, but in terms of Antarctica, who owns Antarctica? Do people live in Antarctica? Information about Antarctica's population is complicated. Besides the Antarctica population, even children know that there are penguins that live in Antarctica. Types of penguins in Antarctica are our next topic to introduce in this article. As we mentioned before, almost all land in Antarctica is covered by ice. Therefore, when you visit Antarctica, it is important to get information about Antarctica's temperature, Antarctica weather conditions. When we say pyramids, Egypt comes to your mind immediately; however, there are some pyramids in Antarctica too! So, let's start!
Status of Antarctica
In this part, you will get brief information about who owns Antarctica, the Antarctica population, and people who live in Antarctica. All over the world, researchers come to Antarctica, but not a single nation owns this ice-covered land. Via the Antarctic Treaty mechanism, Antarctica is regulated internationally. Twelve countries that had experts in and around Antarctica at the moment formed the Antarctic Treaty in 1959. The negotiation of the Treaty resulted from the very successful 1957–58 International Geophysical Year. The Antarctic Treaty's original signatories included seven countries with territorial claims, and these are Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom. In 1961, the Antarctic Treaty went into force. Other nations have since contributed to that too, and this explains that the answer for who owns Antarctica! In terms of Antarctica population, it is clear that there is no indigenous population in the South of Earth because of hard conditions. However, do people live in Antarctica? Let's find out! While there are no indigenous people and no permanent Antarctic citizens, many people live in the Antarctic every year. These people are scientists, with about 5000 persons. These numbers are for the peak of the summer, from October to April. In winter, these numbers drop to 1000 scientists only, much fewer tourists, some years even 0. Because of hard Antarctica weather conditions, people don't want to visit Antarctica in winter.
In this section, we will talk about Antarctica weather, the temperature in Antarctica. All we know is that it is a cold continent. Let's have a broad vision about Antarctica weather! Continent Antarctica is the coldest in the world and is also extremely dry. Actually, from a technical perspective, Antarctica can be considered a desert. Antarctica weather can be extremely unpredictable, and even in brief intervals, the weather can drastically change. Various classifications are available to define Antarctica weather, and workers' limitations differ by station and country. Antarctica's temperature changes from the coast to the highest part of the land, with a variation between -10C and -60C. The temperature in Antarctica faces a positive degree in the summer close to the coast, with +10C. In winter, researchers can experience almost -80C over the high inner surface. Therefore tourists don't prefer to visit Antarctica in winter.
Penguins & Pyramids
When people visit Antarctica, they want to see penguins and other Antarctica characteristic things such as icebergs, landscapes, etc. Under this part, you'll be informed about the types of penguins in Antarctica and pyramids in Antarctica that open the way for the conspiracy theorist. Let's start with the types of penguins in Antarctica. There're 17 penguin species on the planet, but there are eight types of penguins in Antarctica. The list of the eight species are:
- Emperor penguin (live only in Antarctica)
- Adelie penguin (live only in Antarctica)
- Gentoo penguin (live in Antarctica and sub-Antarctic)
- Chinstrap penguin (live in Antarctica and sub-Antarctic)
- Macaroni penguin (live in Antarctica and sub-Antarctic)
- Rockhopper penguin (live in Antarctica and sub-Antarctic)
- Magellanic penguin (sub-Antarctic)
- King penguin (sub-Antarctic)
In November, you can observe penguins, especially emperor penguins, in the Weddell Sea.
Let's continue our reading with pyramids in Antarctica. It is well-known that Egypt has many pyramids that attract millions of tourists every year. But what about pyramids in Antarctica? Most people, maybe including you, did not know about the existence of pyramids in Antarctica. Let's dig into this topic more. An Antarctic mountain with a unique, pyramid-like shape is suddenly internet-famous, with countless theorists contemplating its origin. Some are wondering whether an ancient civilization created the rocky, pyramidal structure, and others are pointing toward outer space, speculating about the involvement of aliens. Instead of the conspiracy theorist, some researchers try to make logical statements about these pyramid-shaped mountains. They say that those pyramid mountains arise because of billion years of erosion. According to their thoughts, they are just mountains that look like a pyramid. The pyramidal mountains or pyramids in Antarctica are located mostly in Antarctica's Ellsworth Mountains. Beyond these disagreements, it is exciting to visit Antarctica and experience pyramids or pyramid-shaped mountains.
Now, we are in the part where you will learn about how to visit Antarctica, when is the best time to visit Antarctica, travel to Antarctica, flights to Antarctica, and how many tourists visit Antarctica each year. Let's start with how to visit Antarctica. If you want to travel to Antarctica, flights to Antarctica and ships are two options. It is possible to reach Antarctica from South Africa, Australia, or New Zealand, but it is not easy. Most of the travel to Antarctica departs from Ushuaia, Argentina. You can come here from Buenos Aires, Argentina, or Punta Arenas, Chile. Travels occur departing from Ushuaia, Argentina, and entering Antarctica by sea. They cross the infamous Drake Passage, 1,000 km of water that splits South America from the Antarctic Peninsula. Flights to Antarctica are also possible. From Punta Arenas, Chile, you can reach directly to the Antarctic Peninsula by airplane.
The next is when is the best time to visit Antarctica. The best time to visit Antarctica is from late October to March. During these months, weather conditions are appropriate to travel to Antarctica. First ships to Antarctica reach at the end of October or early November because, during this time, sea ice melts and allows ships to enter Antarctica. These voyages continue until the middle of March, autumn in Antarctica begins. Okay, now we know that from October to March is the best time to visit Antarctica, but which is the best month? When is the best time to visit Antarctica? The answer is December! In December, there is the warmest Antarctica weather due to long hours of daylight and active wildlife. Of course, the most expensive period (December) comes along with these conditions. In late October, the number of ships starts to increase. What is the advantage of arriving early in Antarctica? Benefits are lower fares compared to December, pristine snowy landscapes, bigger icebergs, etc. Because of a few ships, it is the best time for photographers!
Nature begins to bloom in November. Tourists can experience beautiful spring wildflowers, albatrosses, seabirds when they travel to Antarctica. November also comes with its unique opportunity to see penguins. Emperor penguin colonies can be observed in the Weddell Sea by tourists. In February, watching whales is the best activity in Antarctica. In March, the number of ships declines, and by this point, you cannot see penguins, and the temperature begins to be colder. By April, almost all cruise ships left Antarctica. You can see only some ice breakers around Antarctica. After April, only a few researchers will be in Antarctica to learn more about this mysterious continent, find new species, and observe natural phenomena. After discussing the best time to visit Antarctica, and clarifying each month's characteristics, let's find out how many tourists visit Antarctica each year? Tourism is the grown industry in Antarctica. From the 1950s to 2015-2016, the number of tourists increased from a few hundred to almost 40,000 visitors. According to IAATO data, in 2019, there are 18,506 cruise-only visitors, 55,614 landed visits, and 731 deep field visitors. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, these numbers are expected to decrease in the following years.
A quick recap
In conclusion, we hope our blog post about why you should visit Antarctica was useful for you. As you have learned too much information about Antarctica, penguins, pyramids, and weather conditions, you can now start to plan your trip to Antarctica. We hope you have a nice Antarctica trip!
Gunel is from Baku, Azerbaijan, and for several years she studied in Russia. Gunel participated in a few Erasmus+ projects abroad, travelled to 9 countries, and wishes to explore many countries and continents in the world. As a person always receiving distinction in her studies, Gunel is enthusiastic about education, self-development, working in large-scale international projects and has a huge love for nature and animals. Also, she loves painting in her free time.