Antarctica is unlike any other travel destination. There are no fancy hotels or restaurants. There are no architectural wonders, museums, or popular attractions. Churches, theatres, gardens, parks, and festivals are also absent. There isn’t even a sense of native culture as indigenous groups have never settled on the great Southern Continent.
So how does a place such as Antarctica so void of most of things that encourage people to travel evoke such wonder and excitement. What kind of traveller is drawn to such a place, a place that has even evaded countries from truly claiming land and setting up definitive borders? It is an inhospitable place at times and has claimed the lives of many travelers to its lands, yet still we are drawn to this magical place due to some intrinsic sense of exploration and wanting to feel truly alive during the time we are given on this planet.
The following are just some of the types of traveler that set their sights on Antarctica as their ultimate prized destination.
Bucket List Travellers
For the bucket list traveller who has compiled a list of must-see-before-I-die locations, Antarctica has to be without a doubt on the top of the list. To set foot on a continent that has lured such iconic explorers such as Shackleton, Mawson, Amundsen, Scott, and Hillary is a true honor and accomplishment. Although it may not have the level of difficulty of summiting Everest, the feeling of landing on Antarctica will leave you with the same feeling that you have achieved something special in your lifetime.
As we never know how long we might have on this Earth, I encourage any bucket list traveller to visit Antarctica sooner rather than later, but be warned that traveling post-Antarctica may be a bit of a letdown as many places will fail to evoke such emotion and excitement that this icy continent does.
As visiting Antarctica isn’t exactly the most inexpensive place to visit, one might think it’s off limits to young travellers who may be fresh out of school or on a gap year. It may however be one of the best and easiest times to visit the white continent.
Younger workers may not earn the larger incomes that come with getting older, but they also don’t have many of the expenses either. Many live at home and therefore aren’t stuck with the obligations of paying a mortgage, living expenses, or caring for children. This stage of life is one of the greatest times to be able to save money and can very easily be done if one forgoes the usual money consuming activities of younger generations such as drinking, partying, and frivolous spending.
Just like the young, older retirees find themselves with fewer time constraints or responsibilities. It is the time in life where you can reward yourself for years of hard work. It is also the time in life where we find ourselves financially secure and therefore the higher price tag that comes with Antarctica is well within our means.
At this age many of us have also found partners whom we have chosen to share our life with. Antarctica is an incredible place to see by yourself but experiencing it with the one you love the most takes it to a whole new level. Many historic explorers and modern day scientific researches alike say the magic feeling of spending time on Antarctica is only tarnished by the feeling of isolation and being away from the ones they love.
Nature & Wildlife Photographers
For the nature or wildlife lover, Antarctica is the Holy Grail. Antarctica has everything including incredible animals, dramatic landscapes, powerful weather, and endless unexplored raw and natural beauty.
Even in today’s world of photographic image overload via the media sharing of sites like Facebook and Instagram, images of Antarctica make everyone pause for a moment. It is a place that such a small percentage of people get a chance to visit that we are still left speechless and in awe when we see its beauty caught on camera. This however fails in comparison to seeing its grandeur in person.
Antarctica is blessed with species found nowhere else on Earth and landscapes that seem almost otherworldly. You will find it difficult to put down the camera to soak in the scenery with your own eyes.
Even though Antarctica was discovered rather recently, after all it was the last continent confirmed to be discovered, it still holds so much in the way of historical importance.
The icy continent acts as a time capsule preserving incredible historic sites and monuments. Huts like Mawson’s and Shackleton’s can be visited as can military and scientific bases. Monuments and memorials honouring such events in history like the Endurance have been erected.
Being able to retrace the steps of the best explorers the world has known and visit sites they courageously discovered for the first time will leave you feeling like a true explorer yourself. Antarctica has such a timeless quality about it due to the absence of modern day technology, transportation, and construction. You really feel as though you have placed within the yellowed pages of an old National Geographic magazine. Very few places still exist in this world where you can step back in time and experience such an authentic place.
I believe any traveller to Antarctica falls into this category. It doesn’t matter what age, sex, religion, or ethnic background you come from. Antarctica has the power to bring out emotions you might not even know you possessed.
Antarctica allows us to get away from modern day life with all its commotion and distractions, allowing us to find ourselves. It eliminates cell phones, internet, political issues, traffic, household chores, and everything else that clutters our minds on a daily basis. Getting back to the basics of life without all these distractions makes you realize just who you are as a person.
You really get a sense of just how insignificant your petty problems are and just how much earth is in charge in place like this. Antarctica really does have the power to change you. You find yourself doing things you would normally not think of doing such as a polar plunge or camping on ice with just the basics for survival.
You do these adventurous things because you feel alive and are energized by that feeling. You find yourself being the best version of yourself in Antarctica as there is no peer pressure down here or no need to impress or please others. You can be your true self and Antarctica will accept that true version of yourself in its entirety. Antarctica will give you the utmost respect so long as you simply show her that in return.
So you see, Antarctica is a place that was made for nearly everyone yet sadly such a small piece of the world’s population will ever set foot on this magical place. So if you have the means or simply the desire to visit, it is almost your duty as a human to put forth the effort to make the trip become a reality. It will be an experience that you will cherish forever and hopefully your stories and images will encourage others to follow in your footsteps much like the great explorers before us.
By: Megan and Mike Jerrard
Megan Jerrard is an Australian Journalist and the founder and Senior Editor of Mapping Megan, an award-winning travel blog bringing you the latest in adventure travel from all over the globe. Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.
Together they have lived a life full of more adventure than most people dream – having skydived over the Swiss Alps, walked among the mighty Elephants of Africa, and summited the highest free-standing mountain in the world (Kilimanjaro). They traveled to Antarctica in February 2017.