Antarctica Travel: History to Date
Travel to Antarctica by humans could well never have taken place until the 1800s. While spotted by several ships as largely ice shelves, there is some questions (by the sheer fact that Australia is named what it is – meaning “southern” – hence implying nothing existed further south). However, Captain James Cook’s voyage in 1773 came within 75 miles of the coast – then retreated due to field ice.
The first documented landing upon Antarctica, by American John Davis at Hughes Bay near Cape Charles, was believed to be in 1821; the next confirmed landing was in 1895 at Cape Adair. Actual climbing of a mountain on Antarctica occurred in 1907, with Mt. Erebus climbed by Edgeworth David’s group and subsequently reached the “South Magnetic Pole.” The geographic South Pole was reached by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen in 1911. Soon thereafter, Richard Byrd set up land transport and conducted research in Antarctica in 1930-1940s, and in 1956 U.S. Navy Rear Admiral George Dufek landed an aircraft on Antarctica.
Present Information for Antarctic Travel
Today’s Antarctica for travel purposes should consider the facilities and resources made possible by Antarctica’s history to date. While “runways” for landing feasibility have been shown, experience in landing on ice is required, as nearly the entire land is blanketed in ice most of the year. However, summers are more pleasant, as expected, than winter. This is reflected by the population of 5,000 in summer and 1,000 in the winter. “Visits” to Antarctica have included by ship (with cruise liners coming up to and not necessarily landing on the continent), research trips, and other work-related trips. There are (as of yet) NO hotels on the continent were reported to exist per one site, which also reported that most people sleep on their (or others’) ships. During the summers, it is important to note that the sun never sets – there are hence 24 hours of sunshine. When there is night sky, however, the salvation may be aurora australis or the southern lights, created by the solar winds passing by the earth, or diamond dust (ground-level cloud of ice crystals); finally, a sun dog is a “bright spot other than the true sun” which occasionally appears.
Most accessibility to Antarctica is during November to March (the “austral summer”). “Tourist highlights” or more appropriately phrased as “unique landmarks, since most tourists may not make it there” include East Antarctica’s “Southern Pole of Inaccessibility” which is home to Russia’s golden statue of Lenin and allegedly a gold visitor book if you can manage to get in; West Antarctica with the continent’s highest and lowest points, with a possible guided climbing of the highest peak being possible; South Pole,
Future Considerations for Antarctic Travel
One way to travel to Antarctica may be as part of a research group. Of the 4,000 researchers from 28 countries, biologists to astronomers abound, and environmentalists. Other options still remain sea voyages with rare shore visits, land expeditions (even rarer), or sightseeing by air.
In the future, unfortunately (or fortunately for those intent on going there under more pleasant conditions), the phenomenon of global warming (see www.RavishOnEnvironment.com) may be all-too-real and result in melting of further ice shelf regions. As a possible bellwether sign of temperature warming, in March, 2015, record high temperatures in the 60s (degrees F) were recorded on Antarctica. In addition, a recent scientist from UCSD noted that 70% of the ice shelf in western Antarctica had been lost within the past decade. While it may still be decades or centuries before Antarctica becomes a popular winter (or summer) destination, some of that may depend upon the extent of global warming which occurs.
A final fun fact for those of us considering not only travel to Antarctica in the future, but registering a future internet domain there (which can, by the way, be also done from much warmer areas), Antarctica does have its own assigned suffix, which is “.aq”… Happy Travels.