Antarctica, the extreme continent, the most isolated, the coldest, the highest, the windiest and the driest. Gone are the days of Amundsen and Scott when going to Antarctica was only for the toughest. Now you are invited to experience the pristine beauties of a continent to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and scientific research, in comfort and safety.
Our ANTARCTIC VISIT begins in Punta Arenas, the southernmost city of continental South America. At the International Carlos Ibañez del Campo airport, weather permitting, we will board the airplane and head due south, over the Strait of Magellan, the mythical Tierra del Fuego island, Darwin’s mountain range with its glaciers, Beagle Channel and Cape Horn. Then, the Drake Passage, the stretch of water that lies for 1000 km between South America and Antarctica. We will cross the Antarctic Convergence where the southern oceans collide with the closed circumpolar Antarctic ocean, the natural boundary of Antarctica. We will cross 60º south latitude, the political boundary of Antarctica, south of which all is protected and does not belong to any country. We will head on towards King George island, largest of the 20 islands and islets that conform the archipelago of the South Shetland islands and final destination of our expedition.
After we land at Frei Base, managed by the Chilean Air Force. Scenically the layout of the base may not seem appealing to the eye as it is situated on an ice free area of the island although the glaciers are in view. There may or not be snow. For logistical purposes the less snow the better. Once again, all facilities on land are for supporting the research conducted by scientists, so do not feel surprised at not finding exquisite accommodations. On the island there are no transportation facilities so all must be done by foot, requiring a fit physical condition.
According to weather conditions that specific day we may visit the Base, a mile walk downhill on a dirt road and hop on a zodiac to visit a very special island, Ardley, an SSSI, Site of Special Scientific Interest, one of the most highly protected areas within Antarctica as 3 species of penguins breed there. Another possibility is to walk towards a beach that may be populated by southern elephant seals and Antarctic fur seals. All is played by ear according to the weather conditions of that specific day and the goal is to make the most of the approximately 4 hours that are spent on land. Longer time is not a choice due to the ship’s departure time from Punta Arenas.
The scenery, fauna and marine life are the main attractions for the tourist; this place is one of the few in the world that has remained untouched by men, this is why it constitutes one of mankind's most important biosphere reserves.