Antarctica is a somewhat unconventional vacation destination, but not everything you've heard is true. Let's clear up some of the most persistent myths.
When it comes to exciting and exotic travel destinations, Antarctica adventures are a unique choice. While many people dream of spending their vacation time on a beach with a good book, for particularly intrepid holidaymakers this rugged, icy continent is home to spectacular sights and attractions unlike anywhere else on Earth.
Given its remote location and challenging conditions, however, people's preconceived notions of Antarctica's tourism potential could may be enough to make them reconsider.
We've collected a few of the most common myths about travelling to Antarctica, to reassure anyone with an adventurous streak that a trip to the bottom of the world is an opportunity you shouldn't pass up!
Isn't Antarctica only for scientists?
It's true that the majority of the work happening on Antarctica is carried out by scientific researchers, with a seasonal population fluctuating between around 1,000 and 4,000 depending on the time of year according to The Independent. That said, all of those workers require access to many of the same products and services as people in any other location, so there's no shortage of supporting personnel – shopkeepers, maintenance staff, bartenders, you name it.
That's not to even mention the volume of tourists visiting the continent each year. The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) notes that the 2016/17 season saw over 44,000 visitors from all corners of the globe. That figure appears to be growing, with 2013/14 numbers showing 37,000 tourists, suggesting that word about Antarctica travel is spreading. Don't worry though - onboard our small ship-expeditions, there's no risk of feeling crowded!
Read more: When is the best time to go to Antarctica?
It's too cold!
We'll concede that Antarctica is known as the coldest place on Earth, with an average winter temperature at the South Pole of -49 °C. For that reason, all but the most essential personnel generally leave the continent for warmer climes in the southern hemisphere winter.
Aurora Expeditions voyages take place during the comparatively balmy summer months along the ~ relatively ~ warm coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, when the temperature can range from around -2 °C to 8 °C. While it's still cold and precautions must be taken, any travellers willing to get out of their comfort zone a little can experience pristine wilderness in a unique climate.
For those visitors who have no qualms about braving the cold, our tours even offer activities that might be daunting to most. Take a dip in the beautiful Antarctic waters with our Polar Plunge, go deeper with scuba diving and snorkelling or spend a night camping on the ice – the options are plentiful.
You can't spend much time on land
As one of the world's few remaining untamed landscapes, access to Antarctica is obviously tightly controlled and monitored, and there are rules regarding the volume of visitors allowed to disembark from tourist vessels. The International Antarctic Association of Tourism Operators (IAATO), of which Aurora Expeditions is a founding member, states that no more than 100 passengers are to land together at any one landing site, and ships carrying over 500 cannot make landings at all.
We like to give our guests the most intimate Antarctica experience possible, and the size of our ship the Polar Pioneer allows us to do just that. With a capacity of just 54, our groups are never at a size where making landfall is a concern, and we aim for two to three landings each day of a trip. A trip to Antarctica is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so the less time you can spend waiting to go ashore, the better.
Read more: 5 reasons why small ships are best
An Antarctic adventure with Aurora Expeditions
Now that we've cleared up these three myths about travelling to Antarctica, what are you waiting for? It's an experience like no other, and the greater your sense of adventure, the more rewarding it can be!
The team at Aurora Expeditions are here to help every step of the way, so if you have any lingering questions or concerns, get in touch with us today or browse through our comprehensive brochures for more information.