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Antarctica

A land of pristine beauty, breath-taking wildlife and inestimable importance in an environmental and historical sense, travelling to the base of the globe on an Antarctica cruise is a long-held dream for most people.

The names of explorers and their sovereigns and benefactors are written on Antarctica's shores. Renowned explorers from Cook to Amundsen and Scott all tried to penetrate this vast, mysterious land, each with varying degrees of success. Visitors can follow in their footsteps and imagine what it was like to forge through the pack ice on a creaking wooden boat or to haul sledges across the polar plateau. Some of the historic huts still remain, preserved frozen in the ice, to tell the story of adventures long past.

Captain Robert Scott's hut which lay abandoned since 1913

The continent is divided into two regions, known as East and West Antarctica. East Antarctica makes up two-thirds of the continent and is about the size of Australia. Ice in this part of the continent averages 1.2 miles thick.

West Antarctica, on the other hand, is a series of frozen islands stretching toward the southern tip of South America.

Antarctica as a whole is the world's fifth largest continent, containing 90 per cent of all Earth's ice within a total area just under one and a half times the size of the United States. The size of Antarctica varies throughout the seasons, as expanding sea ice along the coast nearly doubles its size in the winter.

There are no indigenous populations of people on the frozen continent. Today, human habitation exists at a variety of science research stations placed by a number of countries. The freezing weather is an excellent location to study how the body and mind adapts to the cold. Scientists also drill for ice cores, which can provide a climatic history of the region over thousands of years.

The vast, vegetation-free expanse also makes an excellent place to search for meteorites; the dark rocks stand out easily on the white backdrop and don't find themselves covered by growing plants. Other projects include the study of penguins, fish, global warming, glaciology, astronomy and climatology.

Because it lies in the Southern Hemisphere, seasons in Antarctica are the opposite of seasons in the North. Summer runs from October to February and Winter covers the remainder of the year. However, don't pack your swimsuit and sunglasses - Antarctic summers average just above freezing, with the more mountainous East Antarctica, colder than its western counterpart.

Interestingly, despite its thick ice, Antarctica is classified as a desert because so little moisture falls from the sky. The inner regions of the continent receives a yearly average of 2 inches of precipitation - primarily in the form of snow. More rain falls in the Sahara desert!

Ice and weather, not clocks and calendars, determine the itinerary and the timetable of all travel here.

Preserved by the Antarctic Treaty, Antarctica is home to some of the world's most extraordinary species. Some, such as the enormous whales, migrate from afar, while others, including the Weddell seal and emperor penguin, remain close to the continent. Wildlife here is generally unafraid of humans: visitors usually elicit no more than an uninterested yawn from seals and penguins focused on their young.

It's hard to argue against the fact that penguins are the real pull when it comes to wildlife watching in Antarctica. You'll likely spot Adélie, Chinstrap, Gentoo, King and Emperor penguins as well as the not too friendly Macoroni species.

The male Emperor penguin is the only warm-blooded animal to remain on the continent throughout the freezing winter, nesting on the single egg laid by its mate. (The female spends nine weeks at sea and returns in time for the egg to hatch.)

Also, lookout for five species of seal - Fur, Elephant, Leopard, Crabeater and Weddell as well as a variety of whale species including Minke, Orca and the ubiquitous Humpback.

This is your chance to explore the truly unique and special continent on one of our Antarctica cruises. Go further, dream bigger and to do it in all-inclusive six - star luxury on board one of the World's First Discovery Yachts, Scenic Eclipse.

Antarctica Quick Facts

Catherine Mikkelson, the wife of a Norwegian whaling captain, became the first woman to visit Antarctica in 1935.

As part of its effort to claim a portion of Antarctica, Argentina sent a pregnant woman to the continent. In January 1979, Emile Marco Palma became the first child born in on the southernmost continent.

There are no huskies pulling sleds in Antarctica. As of 1994, no non-native species may be taken to Antarctica. Motor-powered vehicles are the primary method of transportation across the ice.

If the West Antarctic Ice Sheet melted entirely, it would raise global average sea levels by 16 feet, according to some estimates.

Nearly 30 countries operate more than 80 research stations around the continent, according to 2009 numbers from the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs.

At least two active volcanoes exist in Antarctica. The highest, Mount Erebus (12,448 feet) is. the southernmost active volcano on the planet and home to Earth's only long-lived lava lakes. The other lies on Deception Island, off the Antarctic Peninsula. Although eruptions in 1967 and 1969 damaged science stations there, the island remains a popular stop-off for tourists, who can bathe in the water warmed by the volcano while surrounded by ice.

Antarctica's Gamburtsev Mountains are a range of steep peaks that rise to 9,000 feet and stretch 750 miles across the interior of the continent - and are completely buried under up to 15,750 feet of ice.

If you throw boiling water into the air in Antarctica, it will instantly vaporize. Most of the particles will turn into steam while others are instantly converted to small pieces of ice.

Melting Antarctica's ice sheets would raise oceans around the world by 200 to 210 feet.

In 2000, the largest recorded icebergs broke free from the Ross Ice Shelf, a region the size of Texas. With a surface area of 4,250 square miles above water and 10 times the size beneath, the iceberg was approximately as large as Connecticut.

For the more curious, try Googling “Hollow Earth” or “Lake Vostok mysteries”. Also, with an open mind, take a look at this video

Scenic Eclipse Antarctica departures

title departs returns days route notes
Ultimate Chilean Fjords and Antarctica 7 November 2019 9 December 2019 33 Callao(Lima) to Buenos Aires Hotel on arrival and departure included details
Antarctica in Depth 24 November 2019 9 December 2019 16 Ushuaia to Ushuaia Hotel on arrival and departure included details
Antarctica in Depth 5 December 2019 20 December 2019 16 Ushuaia to Ushuaia Hotel on arrival and departure included details
Antarctica in Depth 16 December 2019 31 December 2019 16 Ushuaia to Ushuaia Hotel on arrival and departure included details
Antarctica in Depth 1 February 2020 16 February 2020 16 Ushuaia to Ushuaia Hotel on arrival and departure included details
Antarctica in Depth 12 February 2020 27 February 2020 16 Ushuaia to Ushuaia Hotel on arrival and departure included details
Antarctica in Depth 23 February 2020 9 March 2020 16 Ushuaia to Ushuaia Hotel on arrival and departure included details
Antarctica in Depth 5 March 2020 20 March 2020 16 Buenos Aires to Buenos Aires Hotel on arrival and departure included details

Scenic Eclipse Antarctica departures that inlude South Georgia and the Falklands

title departs returns days route notes
Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands 27 December 2019 18 January 2020 23 Ushuaia to Ushuaia Hotel on arrival and departure included details
Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands 14 January 2020 5 February 2020 23 Ushuaia to Ushuaia Hotel on arrival and departure included details
Antarctica and The Falklands 16 March 2020 7 April 2020 23 Ushuaia to Buenos Aires Hotel on arrival and departure included details

Clothing in Antarctica

The principles here apply to anywhere when temperatures start to drop and the wind to blow. The "layer method" of dressing is more effective than a single bulky garment. Several layers are built up, each of which has its own part to contribute and insulating air is trapped between as well as within layers, flexibility is maintained as conditions change.

LAYER ONE

The layer next to the skin, the foundation layer, should be soft, comfortable and able to absorb perspiration quickly, leaving you feeling dry in spite of your exertions in the cold. Damp clothing in the cold can reduce the insulation significantly, so it is important to get sweat away from your skin and away from your clothes - breathability is of the utmost importance. To function most efficiently the foundation layer should be close fitting to the body. The layer of clothing next to the skin has two jobs to do, the obvious one of keeping you warm and then the equally important but less obvious one, that of removing perspiration from the skin so it doesn't cause chilling later on.

In cold temperatures perspiration can be more of an issue than in a warmer climate. The skin loses moisture at all times whether undergoing exertion or not. If there are overlying insulating layers keeping you warm, it is more difficult for this perspiration to escape, If it is not removed it will result in the wearer becoming uncomfortable with a feeling of clamminess, as well as lowering the efficiency of the insulating layers.

Underwear that is able to absorb this moisture away from the skin surface therefore becomes much more important. The best modern "thermals" are made of natural merino wool and have good insulation properties. The golden rule here is to avoid cotton except in some very specific situations.

Marks and Spencer's wool blend long sleeve thermal vests, coupled with their Heatgen long pants should do the trick for the men whilst there are similar products from the same company for women.

LAYER TWO

Mid layer tops in cold weather should be insulating with easily adjustable ventilation for versatility. When the sun shines and the wind drops, they can become the outer layer even if it's still cold. Likewise, they should be able to quickly close up to provide vital heat retention when the weather turns again.To make them perform optimally you need to pay more attention to material and design than with your normal everyday clothes. More than one mid layer is often worn for comfort and practical purposes, too many become unwieldy and can restrict movement. Two thinner layers will be warmer than one of the same combined thickness and material due to air being trapped between, as well as within layers. Our recommendation is two mid layers, firstly a heavyweight long sleeved woollen shirt to go over your base layer, long enough to tuck into your pants and prevent draughts. Couple this with a good quality merino wool sweater (must be 100% wool), this combination can be suplemented if necessary by a lightweight fleece packed into your back-pack for sudden changes in temperature.

Good quality wool shirts for both men and women can be found here and can be ordered online. These classic shirts are 100% wool and are world famous.

Woolen shirts manufactured by Pendleton's since the early 1900's.

In cold weather, the legs are often the most poorly insulated part of the body, while warm tops and coats get a look in, as often as not, the same trousers are pulled on as at any other time of the year.

Much of the time your trousers are going to be an outer layer, so they need to be wind resistant. Our recommendation is to wear a pair of loose fitting corduroy trousers with a pair of water and wind proof over-trousers. Berghaus have a range of such trousers for both men and women.

LAYER THREE

Your Scenic Eclipse experience will include an "expedition" kit, part of which will be a waterproof and windproof parka - your third layer.

SUPPORTING CAST

Gloves - One or two pairs of waterproof ski mittens as well as a pair of thin, polypropylene gloves that fit under your ski mittens so you can take your mittens off during photography without your hands getting cold. You may want to bring an extra pair of mittens in case your other pair gets wet.

Hat - Wearing a hat is one of the quickest and easiest ways of keeping warm. If you are wearing quite a lot of clothing but still feel cold, particularly at the extremities, putting on a hat is the simplest way to deal with it.

Balaclavas are very effective, worn rolled up as a hat or rolled down as an almost full face covering under your hood. If they cover the mouth and nose, they have the advantage of keeping that area warm, so decreasing the chances of picking up colds and flu.

Alternatively, a hat with sufficient protection for the ears may be just as effective and somewhat more stylish. Because we like to think that all our clients have an innate sense of style by firstly, choosing to cruise on Scenic Eclipse and secondly, to entrust their booking to ourselves, we are offering this Canada Goose Artic Tech Shearling Pilot hat as a complimentary gift to each of our clients.

Goggles - Snow goggles provide protection from the brightness of the sun, from ultra violet rays, from snow ingress and from the wind and cold. They can also help increase contrast in low light to help you avoid bumps and other obstacles. Goggles are more effective than sunglasses as they prevent light from creeping in behind the lenses, they prevent the snow piling in if you suddenly contact it more closely than you anticipated or if it starts to snow and blow. They are better with a snow hat than glasses and contribute to full face protection in the coldest conditions..

Some of the latest goggles enable you to switch lenses according to the weather conditions - darker lenses for brighter conditions, lighter lenses for poor light. What makes or breaks a pair of snow goggles is the lens. Going from a low quality to high quality goggle lens is like going from a standard definition TV to high definition.

Darker lenses - for high light conditions when the sun is shining and reflecting off a world of white. These lenses are often grey, dark brown, blue and/or mirrored which is sometimes called "iridium" where the colour of the lens changes with viewing angle. The mirror finish reflects much of the light falling on the lens. Dark lenses are one of the must-haves with your goggles.
Lighter lenses - for cloudy days, when they fulfil the cold protection brief and also help to increase contrast in the snow so making detail clearer. These lenses are usually yellow, orange or pink and are much lighter letting in about twice as much light as the standard dark lenses - these are the other must-have lens with your goggles. Many modern goggles will come with two lenses, one lighter and one darker and a protective pouch to keep the spare on in, so that it doesn't get scratched in your back-pack in case the weather conditions change.

Our recommendation is to spend a decent amount on a good pair of goggles with two spherical lens that are inter-changeable.

Boots and Socks

Appropriate snow boots will be provided as part of the Scenic Eclipse "expedition" kit but you will need to bring appropriate socks.

Three or four pairs of warm, sturdy, long wool soc