10 Best Antarctica Highlights

If ever given the chance to visit the seventh and arguably the most enchanting continent of Antarctica, take it! I can assure you there is nowhere on the planet quite like it.

After having the chance to spend nearly 15 days on a Chilean Naval Icebreaker on board with a National Geographic team, I knew I had gotten to experience Antarctica in a way that no cruise would ever have truly allowed for.

Our friend also shares why Antarctica is the best destination in the world and all about his expedition to the South Pole.

Here are 10 highlights that are a must-see on Antarctica.

1. Marvel at a true Winter Paradise

snowy mountains next to a frozen lake

The Antarctic summer starts in December and runs through till about March. The skies are usually bright and the temperature is no colder than a crisp, sunny winter’s day. This is the best time to see Antarctica at its most beautiful.

The best place to witness this beauty at in a real paradise at the pristine Paradise Bay. Paradise Bay is on the West side of Antarctica and the still waters and fascinating icebergs make it the epitome of Antarctica.

Best of Antarctica

Visiting this harbor is simply put—magical.

On a typical summer day you would see exquisite ice sculptures standing tall and majestic, clear skies reflecting all the mightiness of the mountains into the clear bay.

Albatrosses spreading their 11ft wings and filling the skies as leopard seals bask in the sun on an ice float. Time stops still here. The beauty is breath taking and is the go-to place if you want to experience the magical wonder that is Antarctica!

seals in Antarctica

 2. Run the Antarctic Half-Marathon or Marathon

On King George’s Island in nearly sub-zero conditions there are the Antarctic Half-Marathon and Marathon for those that are the most hardcore! How great would finishing a race with a nice little medal be, to commemorate the trip to Antarctica?

3. Lick an Iceberg

The first things that I noticed when entering Antarctic territory were the beasts that were the icebergs. They speckled the water and stood tall against the clear sky. It had always been on my bucket list to lick a real iceberg and where better to cross this off my list than in Antarctica!

lick an iceberg Antarctica

Icebergs are never still and are constantly shifting positions due to the wind. For this reason a lot of bigger ships tend to steer clear of these ‘bergs. No one wants a repeat of the Titanic!

The chances come with smaller vessels, primarily Zodiacs. They are must smaller and can navigate around icebergs with ease.

a boat next to icebergs
Up close and personal

We had the chance to pull up next to a rather small iceberg and see how far into the water it actually went. The old adage is true, what we saw really was “just the tip of the iceberg!”

Getting exciting at the possibility of being able to lick one of these great ice blocks we convinced our zodiac driver to pull in between two icebergs. Needless to say, this was a bad idea. The imperceptible motions of the icebergs were lost on us and soon we found ourselves trapped between them.

Luckily, a flatboat from a base was returning to shore when they spotted us and were able to aid in our rescue!

4. Port Lockery Museum

If you stop by Port Lockery make sure to send yourself a cool postcard stamped from Antarctica. The Port Lockery museum used to be the British Base but is now a full time post office. It is a cute little structure from which you can send yourself mail stamped with Antarctica’s stamp!

 5. Play with a Penguin (and enjoy the other wildlife)

The best place to enjoy the frolicking of penguins would be in Paradise Bay. The snow capped mountains in the background with the little creatures in tuxedos happily scampering about is quite a sight.

They love to slide around on their bellies and splash around in the water. Their squawking and cooing is a pleasurable cacophony. Here is the ideal place to watch them play and even join in yourself.

The penguins on Antarctica aren’t used to humans but they sure aren’t scared of us either. They happily run up to you and circle your feet. If you’re lucky (and quick) you might even be able to scoop one up for a photo-op!

penguins in Antarctica
Playing with penguins

In terms of wildlife there is more to see than just penguins. Sometimes leopard and Weddle seals beach themselves on shore to relax after a meal, or even to lie in wait for the oblivious penguins to walk within reach.

a person standing in snow

These creatures aren’t used to humans either but they are not as friendly as the penguins. We were advised by the people from the base and the National Geographic Team to leave the seals (and any other creature that wasn’t a penguin) alone, for our own safety.

 6. Helicopter Ride for an Aerial view of Antarctica

It is a breathtaking view to get an aerial view of Antarctica and its magnificent landscape. Using a helicopter is probably the best way to travel around the island and witness the Emperor penguin colonies or even fly amongst albatross.

 7. Take a shot with someone at a research base

It’s an odd thing when you ask someone where home is and their answer is Antarctica. This is quite the case for the roughly 4,000 people that call Antarctica home during the summer months and the 1,000 that stay there during the winter as well!

research base in Antarctica

Having a look into a base you wouldn’t even realize that you were on Antarctica. It is a rather up-to-date facility at Chilean Base- Base O’Higgins. They are staffed with all the amenities one could hope for including a basketball court! So go ahead, be bold, as to take a shot (whether a drink or with a camera) with a person from within one of these awesome bases.

 8. Observation Hill for a stunning view

McMurdo Station there lays Observation Hill. It is not that much of a trek (roughly 30-40 minutes) but the view from the top is stunning.

There is a beautiful view of the Ross Ice Shelf and views of Mt. Erebus; the perfect spot for quite reflection.

9. Visit the South Pole

The South Pole lies at 90°S and 0°W. The best way to access this point is via helicopter. Standing here one can claim that they have indeed reached all the way to the South Pole.

10. Take a dip in Deception Island’s hot spring

Deception Island's hot spring Antarctica
Soak it up

Last but definitely not least is the joy of bathing in a hot spring in Antarctica. Yes, you heard me! Strip down and swim around in Antarctic waters!

On Deception Island, at the South Shetlands in Antarctica has warm volcanic soil and even warmer water underground. If you’re feeling particularly brave you can wade into the warm shore water or else just dig up some of the volcanic soil and climb into a steaming hot pool of water right on Antarctica’s mainland!

Have you been to Antarctica before? Is it on your bucket list now?

 Bio: Suravi Thomas, the daughter of a diplomat, has been travelling since birth. Her sense of adventure and need to explore the world will hopefully fuel travels throughout her life. She loves the off-beat and less travelled roads to explore and really loves to be submerged in the culture where ever she visits. She blogs at http://suziventures.blogspot.com/

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63 thoughts on “10 Best Antarctica Highlights”

    1. It was a dream of mine too and I wasn’t sure how it was going to happen, but it did! Never know how it’ll happen, but I am sure that it will!!

  1. Fabulous photos! I especially love the first few of the icebergs. Antarctica has been on my bucket list for way too long – about time I did something about that. Thanks for sharing your trip with us!

    1. Well thank you! I can’t take all the credit for those, my brother helped me a lot in taking some of the amazing photos of that trip! Glad you enjoyed it!

    1. Congrats!!! I am sure you’ll love it. It’s entirely different than anything else to experience. It is so remote and so off the grid, it’s truly a humbling experience.

  2. I’m in a bit of shock that you actually picked up a penguin. Having been to Antarctica myself, and having done tons of research ahead of time, the biggest thing that stuck in my mind was that you are not allowed to touch the penguins. You’re not even allowed to approach them within a certain distance (though it was obviously fine if they walked up to you) because it is so important to have as little impact on their environment as possible. Picking one up is so not cool, and even the slightest amount of reading before your trip would’ve told you this. And if the tour operator allowed you to do this, they are incredibly irresponsible and I can’t imagine what other irresponsible things they are doing or allowing to happen.

    1. Ali,
      I understand where you are coming from. We went on the trip with a National Geographic Research Team and they were examining the penguins as a part of their research. It was only with their guidance that they allowed us to hold one of the penguins. Otherwise, I totally agree, just grabbing a penguin out of the wild might not be the best thing!
      Thanks for sharing your opinion!

  3. Thank you everyone for all of your support! I am glad that you all liked it! I would like to say a big thank you to yTravel for their support and allowing me to be a guest on their amazing blog! Keep Travelin’

    Good Luck Everyone!

  4. How is it possible that they let you touch the wildlife??? I’d love to visit Antarctica, but I would never enjoy it because of the voyage on rough seas. Too seasick

  5. I want to go to Antarctica so badly. I cannot believe you picked up a penguin! I would deem life a success at that point. Thanks for the great read!

  6. Antarctica is one of those ‘I wish, but dare not hope’ destinations for me. I’d love to go there someday but it seems so far away.

    This post only makes me want to go more!

  7. I love your blog but I really wish you wouldn’t condone people harassing wildlife. If you go to a place to see the amazing wildlife please have enough respect to leave the animals alone.

    1. Hi Christina, I think the author of this piece explained in some of the comments above about the handling of the penguins.
      We are not in any way condoning the harassing of wildlife and I don’t believe the author is either.
      Thanks for liking our blog

  8. yeah I read what the author said in one of the comments. I think she should have mentioned that next to the picture to avoid negativity and setting up a bad example. And the part where she says if you are quick you can scoop one up for a photo op, well that to me is condoning and encouraging.
    Enough ranting! I loved the rest of the article

  9. Cole @ Four Jandals

    That picture of you stuck is hilarious! Bit chilly to get your kit off for a swim I would have thought…

  10. I love this place cause it is undiscovered, which means it is clean and not touched by people. We all know what happens when a place starts being crowded by many tourists, it gets dirty. Great post, looking forward to read your new posts.

  11. What a beautiful place! How I wish I have the resources to visit this place. Thank you for sharing these pictures…

  12. Nice post – some great places to see but Im pretty sure they are not easily accessible on an organised tour!! (mine was kind of set plan so South Pole and Marathons are most definitely not included!) – sorry to nitpick again but it’s spelt Port Lockroy 😉 I visited there in 2010 – it’s a British Base. Amazing that you did all this and a bit jealous by the way – my adventure to the white continent was a fast one! Jonny

  13. What cruise line or ship did the author travel with? I’m taking a trip and I want to make sure the ship I go with makes lots of stops on the mainland.

  14. Not a good idea encourage tourist to visit Antarctica. after Mount Everest is spilled with plastic it is the turn of Antarctica! Human beings are born to destruct the mother earth only. The future of our children will be full of struggle in fighting for the after affects of Global Warming. No ships or aircrafts should ply tourists to Antarctica unless they are not burning fossil fuel. Save Earth..

  15. Hey! It was the first post about Antarctica that I came across while searching for info about this topic. One month later, I have visited Antarctica myself taking the cruise form Ushuaia. And it really is as amazing as you described. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  16. I can’t believe you actually cuddled a penguin chick, you are not allowed to do this and am certain that your Antarctic crew would have chastised you if they had known….terrible.

  17. I wild love to join yr group. My husband and I are taking a year gap out from family, friends, and our own business! We want to celebrate his. 60th doing the travel our kids have done (we were too busy being parents to travel). We have done Europe and Australia with our kids but now want to experience our further afield bucket list – starting with Argentina and Antarctica. Can u suggest where to start as we want to work our way through South America as we’ll. many thanks Wendy

  18. I’ve been in the Antarctica it was really good I made a lot of friend like Susan and Alex they were really good friends to me and I hope I can go again

  19. trinity.moore.perkins

    this info is cool i visited the atlantic last year so cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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