Antarctica: the last true wilderness in the world. It has remained virtually untouched since it was first discovered. In fact, according to the Antarctic Treaty, no country is allowed to claim any part of Antarctica for itself, nor can any country or entity try to extract its natural resources. It is, in essence, the world’s largest nature reserve. For most of the time we’ve known about the frozen continent, the only people allowed to freely work and travel around Antarctica were scientists. However, in recent years, there has been a growing trend of tourism on the continent, allowing people to see a section of the earth that is as yet untouched.
Traveling around Antarctica is not like traveling around any other part of the world though. There are no elements of convenience here, and there is only one hospital which only has two doctors working there. If you want to stay safe in the tundra, then there are some tips you need to follow.
Let this article be your beginner’s guide to staying safe while looking around Antarctica. Some of these tips may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people neglect to consider them. Take your time, do your research, and you’ll have the best trip around Antarctica that you could possibly have
1. Forget About Driving
You certainly won’t need a car insurance quote before you go to Antarctica! There are, of course, no paved roads, and cars will be absolutely useless. It’s not just that the terrain is basically impossible to drive over, it’s that there is no infrastructure to help with fuel or vehicle repairs should something go wrong.
So how do people get around Antarctica? The answer depends on what they’re doing. Most people on South Pole expeditions will tend to walk. Scientists will often use a helicopter or fly in. Snowmobiles are also a handy way to cover longer distances over snow and ice, but they are not always the most reliable way to travel. If you’re coming to Antarctica as a tourist, then the most likely mode of transport for you will be a ship that hops from island to island and travels around the coast. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to penetrate much deeper into the heart of the continent.
2. Watch Your Step
As we mentioned above, it’s likely that any time you spend on land around Antarctica will be spent on foot. It is absolutely vital that you watch your footing when you’re moving around the tundra. The biggest threat to your life when you’re out walking won’t be the cold, it will be falling down a crevasse.
What is a crevasse? It’s nothing nice. They are essentially giant cracks in the ice sheet beneath your feet, and they can go down for hundreds of feet into what can only be described as an abyss. If you fall down one of these things, then you won’t need an accident lawyer, you’ll need a trained rescue crew.
The best way to stay safe when walking on glaciers is to tether up. This means that you are tied off at the waist to the next person walking with you. This way, if one of you falls down a crevasse, the other person acts as a counterweight that prevents you from falling the whole way down the crevasse.
3. Stay Away From Expensive Equipment
Heading out to Antarctica obviously comes with a big shopping list for equipment. Some of this equipment will be rather specialized and you’ll probably need to buy it brand new. However, some of the equipment will be fairly standard outdoors/winter gear that you can easily buy second-hand at a much lower price.
Don’t turn your nose up at the thought of buying used equipment for such a big trip. Any polar exploration clothing worth its salt should be able to withstand years of use and multiple explorations to the polar regions. Be wary of anyone trying to tell you that you need to buy overly expensive and brand-new equipment. There are certainly some brand names that carry gravitas in the outdoor clothing world, but remember that gear for these trips is all about substance over style. As long as the clothing you choose is reliable, durable, warm, and comfortable, then you’re going in the right direction. Do your research before opting for something with a huge price tag
4. Listen to the Experts
Traveling around Antarctica is not a relaxing or easy jaunt of a vacation. When you’re in a stressful or complicated situation, you need to take in any expert advice that you can find. If you are in legal trouble, you have to listen to the expert knowledge of an attorney, it is the same here when you are traveling around Antarctica. Expert explorers have a wealth of knowledge that can help you make the most of your time on the frozen continent. They’ll be able to give you advice on how best to get to the continent, the best size of ship for your cruise trip, how to stay warm, and how to spot local coastal wildlife.
5. Save Up Lots of Money
You probably won’t be surprised to hear that going on a trip to Antarctica is not cheap. Because of the remote location and the additional logistical considerations of traveling around Antarctica, you can expect to pay significantly more than you would for any other kind of vacation. The exact price of your trip will, of course, vary depending on the specifics, but if you’re on a budget, you can expect to pay anything between $3,000-$6,000 per person. If you’re not on so much of a budget, then you can expect to pay even more than that. It’s worth stressing that $3,000 will be the cheaper end of things, so don’t expect too much in the way of convenience, comfort, or exclusivity. It is a lot of money to pay for a vacation, so it might be worth trying some extra money-making activities like taking your gold to a place that swaps cash for jewelry.
6. Leave Your Guns at Home
You won’t need to visit a gun shop before your trip to Antarctica. In fact, there is only one gun in the whole continent, and it is kept firmly under lock and key. There are a few reasons why firearms are so few and far between in Antarctica. The main reason is the fact that there is no reason to have one. If you’re worried about any apex predators out there, then you’re getting confused with the Arctic, which boasts its fair share of polar bears. The Antarctic, however, has no such predators and there is no reason to have a firearm while you’re there.
The second reason for the lack of firearms is that the Antarctic treaty makes the continent a demilitarized zone. As such, firearms and military activity are kept strictly limited and closely monitored. Add that to the fact that you won’t need to use a gun for your whole time there, and you’re better off just not worrying about firearms while you’re out there.
7. Don’t Expect Normal Outdoor Activities
You won’t have to spend all of your time on your expedition ship while you’re in Antarctica, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get out there and do some unforgettable activities. Think twice about needing a bicycle accident attorney, because you won’t be doing any of the normal outdoor activities on the frozen continent. So, what will you be able to get up to? One of the main attractions of going to Antarctica is being able to catch all the amazing wildlife that calls the coast of the continent home. You’ll have an amazing time trying to spot all the whales and penguins. You’ll have the chance to go mountaineering if you enjoy that, and you can also get a spot of sea kayaking around the stunning ice-clad coast of Antarctica.
8. Bring Ample Supplies
The lack of civilization in Antarctica is one of the main attractions for tourists. The peace, quiet, and raw nature are what make the whole continent so special to visit in the first place, but the flip side of this remoteness is that supplies and essentials are incredibly hard to come by. If you’re going to travel around Antarctica for a while, you need to make sure that you are amply stocked up with supplies. The last thing you want is to run out of food, water, or medical supplies.
It is possible for expeditions to resupply. Most scientific expeditions will receive water delivery as well as drops of other essentials like food and medical supplies. These supply drops will come in via the air, but often the only viable landing place for them is many miles away from wherever the research center or camp might be.
You shouldn’t bank on the ability to be able to resupply at the drop of a hat. Supply runs are very dependent on weather and local conditions, and they often come from faraway places like Argentina or New Zealand. Supplies need to be carefully rationed and monitored to ensure that they last between supply drops.
9. Find Ways to Keep Warm
This might seem like the single most obvious entry to put on this list, but there is a right way and a wrong way to keep warm. We cannot stress enough just how cold Antarctica really is. Most tourist expeditions set off in the ‘summer’ season, and even then the temperatures will rarely climb above 30 degrees Fahrenheit. You may well be on an expedition ship while you’re out there, and you may step foot in some buildings, but it won’t be like at home, with cozy spaces and custom fireplace mantels. You will be exposed to some harsh elements, and you need to understand the secret formula for dressing in the cold. The key to staying warm is in layering.
You might be tempted to just throw on some big, bulky coats and call it a day, but this is not the best way to stay warm in extremely low temperatures. Layering works by trapping warm air between each layer of clothing. This warm air then stays close to your skin and keeps it warm. Typically speaking, you’ll want a sweat-wicking base layer, followed by an inner mid-layer, then an outer mid-layer, and finally a waterproof outer layer/winter coat. You’ll also want to make sure that you have thermal socks, a good winter hat (one that covers the ears), gloves, and a solid pair of boots.
10. Never Bring Illicit Substances
Our final tip could probably be applied to any travel scenario, but it is especially true when traveling around Antarctica. Just do not take the risk of bringing any illicit substances. If you’re caught with any, there is no trial process or drug possession bail, you’ll just be escorted to the nearest plane and thrown home to face your punishment there.
Antarctica is a continent that commands respect and careful attention. Don’t devalue the beauty of the landscape and the sheer privilege you have of being able to stand in it by bringing along illicit substances. You can’t visit Antarctica without being a sustainable and respectful traveler. If you need your illicit substances to get by, then you’re better off staying at home.
Remember These Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Trip
Antarctica is a place of jaw-dropping natural beauty. It is a rugged, mountainous, untamed wilderness that will constantly leave you in awe as you travel around. But, as this article has shown, there are plenty of things that you need to bear in mind to be able to make the most of your trip.
Don’t forget to pack the right supplies, grab the right clothing, and be mindful of the kind of place that Antarctica is. It’s not a playground, and it’s not a part of the world to be taken lightly. If you show the landscape the respect and reverence that it’s due, then you’re going to have a life-changing and unforgettable experience visiting it.