There’s no other destination on Earth more epic than Antarctica. The remotest continent has been on the bucket list of many explorers, adventurers, and travellers seeking a unique place to visit. While most people would imagine an Antarctica trip as sitting on the deck of a cruise ship and looking through binoculars from afar, many tour companies offer the opportunity for visitors to visit and explore the continent’s most beautiful destinations.
If this is what you want your Antarctica adventure to be, here are some of the most beautiful places to visit in Antarctica.
The Lemaire Channel is one of the most beautiful places you’ll come across on your cruise to the Antarctic Peninsula. It’s a stunning channel about 1,600 metres wide, nicknamed “Kodak Alley” due to its photogenic sceneries. You’ll be mesmerised by the beauty of this iceberg-filled passage, surrounded by towering ice cliffs.
Lemaire Channel was named after a 19th-century Belgian explorer, Charles Lemaire. But oddly enough, he never set foot in Antarctica. Adrien de Gerlache, his countryman and fellow explorer, was the one who discovered the Lemaire Channel around 1898 and named it in his honour.
One of the landings you’ll pass by in the Antarctic Peninsula after leaving the Lemaire Channel is Petermann Island, a tiny island home to fascinating wildlife. Here, you’ll come close to a crabeater, Elephant seals, Weddell, different seabirds, and an impressive number of penguins.
As your cruise sails through Lemaire Channel, you’ll discover a spartan wilderness of snow and ice amidst rugged peaks rising to 1,000 meters. Nearby calving glaciers will send their icebergs towards the channel and sometimes block it completely. Aside from enjoying the spectacular natural scenery, you will encounter marine animals along the dramatic waterway, from orcas to humpbacks and minke.
The Drake Passage
Nestled between South America and the Antarctic Peninsula, the Drake Passage is a body of water known for being the world’s most dangerous ocean passage. Crossing the Drake Passage is a crucial aspect of reaching the remote continent and something every adventurous traveller dreams of. If you want to experience what it feels like to cross this body of water, you can book luxury Antarctica cruises that will take you across the Drake Passage.
The Drake Passage’s rough conditions are due to the collision of cold waters from the south and the relatively warm water from the north. Thus, strong waves form, and sometimes violent storms make the waves more powerful. But do not let this intimidate you. Today’s modern technology allows cruises to sail through the Drake Passage safely. After all, the spellbinding beauty of Antarctica awaits you after crossing this body of water.
It takes an average cruise ship about 48 hours to sail from one end of the Drake Passage to another, depending on the port embarkation and destination point. Of course, the water conditions are also crucial factors.
South Shetland Islands
You will find many amazing things to do in Antarctica, with the South Shetland Islands being a must-visit destination. Located close to the Antarctic Peninsula, these remote islands offer a unique opportunity to discover one of the world’s most pristine and unspoiled environments. Like most places in Antarctica, the South Shetland Islands boast stunning landscape scenery, from towering glaciers to snow-capped peaks.
Among the islands’ biggest draws is their abundant wildlife, which thrives in pristine natural habitats. Visitors to the islands can come face to face with cute animals like seals, whales, penguins, and different bird species. A particularly famous spot is Deception Island, renowned for its volcanic beaches and resident penguin colony. Meanwhile, you’ll find fur seals and elephant seals on Livingston Island.
The South Shetland Islands are also a paradise for hikers. Many of its scenic trails offer stunning scenery, with the Penguin Highway on Ardley Island being the most popular. The trail offers an incredible opportunity to walk amongst cute penguins and observe them in their natural habitats.
Another must-see attraction in the South Shetland Islands is the stunning glacier formations dominating the snowy landscapes. The splendid views of glaciers calving into the ocean is a sight to behold! Visitors can take boat trips to see the massive glaciers up close and marvel at their magnificence.
Consider hiring specialist cruise companies to take you around Antarctica, as it’s a great way to see the continent’s most incredible destinations, such as the Falkland Islands. Many cruises to Antarctica stop by these islands. Located along the South Atlantic Ocean, their rugged landscapes are a habitat for wildlife, birdlife, and marine mammals.
The wildlife is the highlight of your visit to the Falkland Islands. It’s a particularly fantastic destination for avid birders, as it has over 200 recorded bird species, 59 of which are regular breeders. Visiting the Falkland Islands also offers the opportunity to get close to five of the best penguin species, which include the Magellanic, Gentoo, macaroni, rockhopper, and king penguin.
A trip to the Falkland Islands is also a chance to learn more about their rich history. First claimed by the British in the mid-century, they were soon claimed by France and Spain. However, the islanders remain loyal to the British crown to this day. Yet, Argentina maintained a claim to sovereignty over the islands. You will find out more about this during your visit.
South Georgia Island is another beautiful place in Antarctica to spot penguins and other fascinating wildlife. The island is located in the Southern Ocean, halfway between the Antarctic continent and the southeast coast of Argentina. As the world’s most isolated island, South Georgia is only accessible on a cruise as it has no runway or airstrip.
Also called the “Galapagos of the Poles”, South Georgia is home to thousands of penguins and seals. In fact, it is home to over 100,000 breeding pairs of king penguins. You’ll recognise these birds for their trademark yellow head markings. South Georgia Island also boasts the world’s largest population of macaroni penguins. These quirky birds have an orange crest on their forehead.