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9 reasons to travel to Antarctica

Never mind the bragging rights - here are nine reasons you should hop on an Antarctic cruise and head toward the South Pole.

What do you look forward to about vacation? Is it the sights you'll see at your destination, or the fun and exciting things you'll do? Do you long for a chance to explore a new place, or just to get away from all the noise of your day-to-day life?

If this all describes your ideal vacation, there's no place better than Antarctica. Here are nine reasons you should hop on an Antarctic cruise and head toward the South Pole:

1. The cold

You probably weren't expecting this to be first on this list - most people who have never been to Antarctica think of the polar cold as being a "con." However, there's something about being in a truly cold environment that wakes up your brain. As long as you're dressed for the weather, you won't be freezing, but the cold air will definitely catch your attention. You'll be amazed how quickly you adjust to the temperatures, and you're likely to ultimately think of the Antarctic chill as one of the best parts of your trip.

2. Sense of Adventure

Adventure is the very nature of an Antarctic vacation. After all, you certainly don't go to the South Pole to lay out in the sun. Travelling to Antarctica means kayaking, hiking and generally exploring one of the most untouched places on the planet. When you go to this continent, you're bound to have an experience you'll never forget.

3. Part of History

Because Antarctica has such extreme weather, very few people have ever visited the continent at all. This means that your vacation will make you a part of the continent's history. When you travel to most places, you're looking at something that has already been built and established. On Antarctica, you're part of the story.

4. Remote

The vast emptiness of the southernmost continent cannot be exaggerated. When you travel to Antarctica, it's just you, your shipmates, and the scientists and long-term travellers you meet in some settlements along the way. You're not even somewhere people used to live - not only has Antarctica never had an indigenous population, there's no evidence to suggest anyone ever stepped foot there until the last couple of centuries.

5. Another world

Gabrielle Walker, an environmental scientist who has visited Antarctica to study the effects of climate change, describes the continent as being almost alien:

"The first time I went there," she said in a video about her travels, "it's like walking on another planet. It's just ice and rock - no trees, no plants, no anything else."

Anyone who has ever been fascinated by the thought of travelling through space to an uninhabited world can find that experience right here on earth, no space ship required. Antarctica is your alien landscape right at home.

6. Wildlife

That uninhabited quality means the wildlife in Antarctica - particularly the penguins - have no fear of humans at all. They've never had any predators on land, so they're totally confident and completely curious. This means that travelling to Antarctica is your chance to get up close and personal with everyone's favourite flightless bird.

In addition to the penguins, there are also many whales and seals that live in the southmost part of the world. If you travel to these creature's feeding and breeding grounds, you can get a glimpse into their lives in the wild - something no zoo or aquarium can ever truly replicate.

A calm sailing across the Drake Passage. Credit: HX Hurtigruten Expeditions.

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7. Science

From a scientific perspective, Antarctica is one of the most exciting places in the world. It likely comes as no surprise that this is a prime destination for those studying climate change, but it's also a favourite spot for astronomers. The clear air, stable weather and absence of light pollution make the south pole one of the best places in the world to look at the sky, which means scientists can take a better look at what's happening in the universe around us. It also gives even casual stargazers visiting Antarctica a chance to see a night sky like no other.

8. Icebergs

Even if you've seen an iceberg before, you've never seen ones like those in Antarctica. As your ship draws nearer to the south pole, the concentration of icebergs increases. These floating structures come in all shapes and sizes, and no two are alike - you'll be amazed at the sight of dozens of icebergs surrounding you on all sides.

9. Photography

Whether you're a casual hobbyist, or hoping to become the world's next great nature photographer, Antarctica presents the opportunity of a lifetime. From the utterly un-shy creatures to the foreign and captivating landscapes, this continent will give you the chance to take some absolutely incredible pictures. The images you capture here will be unlike any you've ever shot before, and it will help you grow as an artist, as well.

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Penguins perched on the ice of Cuverville Island, Antarctica. Credit: Espen Mills / HX Hurtigruten Expeditions

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