Antarctica by Audley Travel

More catalogs by Audley Travel | Antarctica | 36 pages | 2008-07-02


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a n ta rctica owned by no one visited by a few antarctica is the world s coldest windiest and wildest continent the awe-inspiring sights of antarctica are amongst the most beautiful and captivating in the world where you can see the clearest sky the bluest sea the most dazzling snow and the most radiant sunshine yet it is also a place of stunning desolation in the endless days of an austral summer icebergs drift slowly by as whales flip their tails above glassy seas seals bask on icy shelves penguins chatter in vast communities and man s presence is seen only rarely in the abandoned shelters of polar explorers military bases scientific research stations and whaling stations rusting in the sun visiting what is possibly the world s ultimate travel frontier is a truly unforgettable and enriching experience south georgia audley in a n ta rctica falkland islands a visit to antarctica is an astonishing trip of a lifetime the expedition cruises are educational and challenging like no other

h istory antarctica s existence was theorised by the ancient greeks who argued that the world would tip over if there wasn t a large mass of land to the south little did they realise that the white continent s landmass was larger than australia or europe spreading out over the sea in shelves of ice the size of france and spain antarctica wasn t actually seen until 1820 and the early tales of wildlife with no fear of man quickly sparked an animal gold-rush with whalers and sealhunters setting up smoky settlements on the antarctic coast the interior remained a mystery an unearthly ice desert with at its heart the south pole at the turn of the 20th century the race to the pole saw some of the world s most heroic feats of exploration and endurance timber ships tweed jackets and packs of huskies sepia-lit in the dawn of the media age scott amundsen and shackleton are amongst those whose feats of endurance and gentlemanly heroism still resonate

sou th georgia two mountain ranges stretch 170 kilometres across the sea to make up this long narrow island in places as little as two kilometres across even in mid-summer 75 of south georgia is covered with glaciers ice-caps and snowfields from 1786 until the early 20th century this was a scene of slaughter with more than a million fur seals killed for their skins but these days its wildlife has fully recovered and the island is arguably one of the world s most magical and prolific wildlife hotspots set against rugged and majestic scenery it is now home to more than three million fur seals and a host of birds five million macaroni penguins strut along its shores king penguins teeter over the shingle beaches of st andrews bay and albatross ­ comparable in size but with a four-metre wingspan ­ make their huge nests in the south the wildlife has now taken over the decaying rusting hulks of the whaling station at grytviken the centre of the southern ocean whaling industry from 1904 to

birds as the austral sun warms antarctica 100 million birds fly south to feed and often breed 35 main species will be your constant companions as you cross the drake passage pelagic birds such as the albatross fulmar petrel and shearwater are perhaps the most spectacular with coastal species such as cormorant skua tern and sheathbills busy along the shores the shortage of ice-free nesting land means the birds nest together in huge colonies with almost unlimited food a few flaps away in the sea whales the super-chilled waters of the southern seas are rich in nutrients and it s not for nothing the earliest explorers were whalers the sub-antarctic region sees the whales at their most prolific and relaxed orca blue humpback minke southern right and sperm whales are amongst those thronging the region from january to march although many arrive early blowing breaching and mating in chilly waters of unbelievable

p enguins graceful but comical curious and sociable penguins are irresistibly endearing awkward on land they are happiest in the water and it is perhaps understandable that the early explorers classified them as fish living in large single-species rookeries of up to 180,000 at a time there are 17 different species of penguin of which only four breed in antarctica these are adélie emperor chinstrap and gentoo other species are found on islands just above continental antarctica such as south georgia including king penguins rockhoppers and magellanic penguins a visit to a penguin colony is a fascinating experience when all senses are awakened penguins are rarely scared of man and their range of personal skills are amazing quite apart from their raucous chatter they also communicate with each other by bobbing their heads waving flippers preening and

a n ta rcticseals there are no polar bears in antarctica which might explain why there are just so many seals true antarctic species include weddell ross crab-eater and leopard seals with southern elephant seals and fur seals found on the warmer islands just outside the antarctic circle southern elephant seals and fur seals breed in colonies with battle-scarred males defending their personal harems while the true antarctic species tend to breed alone seals hunt using echo-location and the excellent vision from their large soulful eyes icebergs antarctica s ice comprises 70 of the world s fresh water a dense coat of white up to four kilometres thick the sheer weight of this ice forces the antarctic continent down below sea level and even affects the shape of the globe making the planet slightly pear-shaped where visitors see ice is as it breaks free from the edge of antarctica or calves off from glaciers into the sea don t fill up your camera on the first iceberg you see changing hues

environment audley only work with companies in antarctica who are committed to ensuring that any impact on the environment is minimised preliminary reports suggest that tourism has not had a detrimental effect on this unspoilt continent due predominantly to the exemplary attitude of the expedition operators who ensure that all visitors behave in the appropriate manner with regard to the environment the international association of antarctica tour operators iaato of which all companies we work with are members or associate members establishes a clear code of conduct for ships visiting the area though there is no antarctic government as such the antarctic treaty which came into force in 1961 is signed by 46 countries and its objectives are simple yet unique in international relations peace science and to set aside any disputes over territorial sovereignty this means antarctica can and will remain fully protected as a natural

p r ac ticalities the hardships of the early explorers are far away from the modern expedition cruise vessels even the most basic ex-russian research ship will provide comfortable private cabins excursions by zodiac and hot chocolate when you return while other ships sometimes converted navy vessels offer increasingly sophisticated standards that often approach luxury you will need to have ­ or find ­ your sea legs for the journey across the drake passage the atlantic convergence can produce some very rough seas though you may escape with just a gentle rolling don t let this put you off it is a useful rite of passage that serves to accentuate just how remote and inaccessible the region is once in antarctica conditions will vary but it is often windy with katabatic winds fuelled by cold dense air descending on the pole and blowing out your exact cruise itinerary will depend on that which your boat has lodged with the authorities and then may change in accordance with the weather and

new mill new mill lane witney oxfordshire ox29 9sx united kingdom telephone 01993 838 615 email website w8501 all of our brochures are printed on paper produced from sustainable resources should you wish to dispose of your brochure we kindly request that you recycle it with special thanks to the following photographers steve allen liz stanford jason hitchcock john carr and ernesto