Antarctica is the highest, driest, coldest, windiest continent we’ve got. And it’s beautiful. Of all the wild places I’ve explored, Antarctica is right up at the top of the list. There’s something about the rarefied air and the clear light that is spectacular bordering on surreal.
Surrounded by the Southern Ocean it is our fifth largest continent, nearly twice the size of Australia and 98 % of it is covered by ice. Due to the weight of that enormous ice sheet, a good chunk of the continent is actually below sea level.
To get to Antarctica, most people make their way to the world’s southern most city of Uschaia in the Patagonia region of Argentina. There, you board your ship, float down the Beagle Channel and then hit the Drake Strait which depending on your luck could be a smooth sailing (it’s been called the Drake Lake when it reveals its calmer nature) or it could be the wildest ride of your life. Tthe Drake Strait can be THE roughest patch of water on the planet due to the vast Antarctic Circumpolar Current pushing through a region that measures 800 kms (500 mi) from the tip of South America to the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula (map).
The continent itself is a desert and there are no trees or shrubs and only 2 flowering plants call this place home. But where the land is relatively barren of life, the sea is alive with krill, penguins, seals and whales. In the austral summer, the bird-life is amazing with The Wandering Albatross, the bird with the largest wingspan (8-11 feet) soaring above the continent and the Southern Ocean. I could go on…
I hope you enjoy the images.