January 4 2010 by Matthew Clyde
It has an average annual temperature of negative 57 degrees Celsius.
90% of the world's ice exists there.
It holds the world's record in strongest wind, highest altitude and coldest temperature.
There are no permanent residents or vegetation.
Sound like the perfect vacation spot?
Well, don't rule out Antarctica just yet! Approximately 30,000 people visit Antarctica every year and while there has never been a native population, 4,000 scientists live and work there during summer months.
For years, luxury cruise lines have offered travel to the earth's coldest continent surrounded by ocean. In fact, with just a few Google searches you'll find travel information about lavish ships with ice-strengthened hulls offering an Antarctic experience with 5-star accommodations. So, what is there to do, see and experience in Antarctica? Why on earth would anyone brave this desolate area?
While most trips take about ten days to three weeks, boredom won't be an issue during your travel. Antarctica visits are mainly concentrated at ice-free coastal zones over the Antarctic summer, the five-month period from November to March. During this time, there is typically 20 hours of sunlight, allowing for plenty of sight-seeing. Wildlife and the outrageous views of enormous glaciers are two biggest attractions. While that doesn't seem like a reason to travel to the bottom of the globe, these two lures are unlike any other on the planet and offer once in a lifetime opportunities to witness nature at its best.
During November and December, packed ice around the coastal areas is starting to melt and break up showing the continent's white, pristine, gigantic icebergs. This is also the mating season for penguins and the breeding season for seals. December and January are Antarctica's warmest months. Penguin chicks are being born at this time offering once in a lifetime wildlife sightings. Whale sightings are at their best in February and March and penguin chicks and seals are out in full sight.
Passenger ships vary in size and the choice of ship can make a big difference in your journey and experiences. On most ships, experienced tour guides offer excellent information about the area, wildlife and natural history. Some ships will offer landings on the continent, while others simply cruise the coast. There are a variety of experiences you can choose from when looking for the right trip for you.
If you decide to be one of the few who take this journey, check out these helpful resources first: