West Antarctica is the most popular Antarctic region and can be best reached from South America. From here, travellers set out to pass the Drake Passage, the notorious merging point of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Ocean with strong currents. Once in sight of the Antarctic Mainland, the Antarctic Peninsula and with it the South Shetland Islands. The Antarctic Peninsula is the most popular due to accessibility and for the plethora of wildlife found. The coast offers a dramatic mountainous backdrop, being an extension of the Andes Mountain range. The entire region including the sub Antarctic Islands is home to incredible history including Shackleton’s epic journey of survival. While most Antarctica cruises visit the Antarctic Peninsula, some of them also travel further south passing the Antarctic Circle, others include a variety of islands such as South Georgia or Deception Island.
Falkland Islands: Located about 500km from the South American coast and comprising more than 750 islands in the South Atlantic Ocean, the Falkland Islands are a haven for wildlife - home to large colonies of elephant seals and fur seals, vast populations of black-browed albatrosses and other abundant birdlife including five species of breeding penguin.
South Georgia: South Georgia is a remote yet magical island, exquisite in its beauty and virtually unspoilt by man. It is adorned with emerald green bays, blue glacier ice and formidable snow covered peaks. Home to over 30 million breeding birds, thousands of seals, the introduced Norwegian reindeer, four breeding species of penguin and the largest colony of king penguins on this planet - the island teems with life. The island was also an intrinsic part of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 191417 Trans-Antarctica Expedition in the Endurance, one of the most incredible adventure stories and most heroic survival stories of all times.
Weddell Sea: The Weddell Sea is largely covered in sea ice during the entire year but the northwest corner offers great opportunities for discovery in places that only few ever visit. The sites for activities may include: Paulet Island with a huge number of Adélie penguins and Brown Bluff, Dundee Island with a myriad of Antarctic fur seals and Southern elephant seals along the coastline. James Clark Ross Island offers a number of rarely visited places that can be explored. Devil Island has a large Adélie penguin rookery and some stunning views of Erebus and Terror Gulf, while Snow Hill Island offers spectacular sedimentary rocks and tell tales of incredible Antarctic exploration in the early 20th Century.
How to get to there: Ushuaia in Argentina is the major gateway to Antarctica. Punta Arenas in Chile is also a gateway for cruises to the Antarctic Peninsula, here travellers may take a flight to the South Shetland Islands to board their vessel, though more expensive, this is perfect for those wishing to cruise in Antarctica but avoid the drake passage. QANTAS, LATAM and Air New Zealand fly from the east coast of Australia to Santiago (connection to Punta Arenas) and Buenos Aires (connection to Ushuaia).