The following article was written by Keith Holland. To read more about Keith, check out the author’s bio at the bottom of this post.
There are few places on planet Earth that have the perception of being unreachable. While some places are unsafe to go to thanks to political elements, there are a select few destinations that have the perception of being just too out there to reach.
One of those places is Antarctica. Affectionately known as the South Pole, Antarctica (not the Arctic) is the Southern most point on planet Earth and is a hive for scientific research, natural beauty, and beautiful and barren landscapes.
Note: Check out ThePlanetD.com for some incredible images of Antarctica.
While there are many rules in place to protect the environment and the work being done on the South Pole, it is actually quite possible to visit Antarctica. I spoke with a North American online travel agency regarding this and they gave me a rundown of the history of tourism in Antarctica.
The earliest recorded pleasure tours to the Antarctic began in the 1920’s. These trips actually took place on a mail delivery ship departing from The Falkland Islands.
They delivered mail and commercial supplies to various whaling and seal hunting stations in the deep south, but also accepted passengers for these voyages as tourists looking to see the South Pole. These are most certainly the first tourists to ever see Antarctica according to FlightHub. This remained the only official way to visit Antarctica for almost 50 years.
In 1969, a new service launched that would take people from Argentina to the South Pole. Taking a ride on this purpose-built ship, the MS Lindblad Explorer, cost a pretty penny in 1969.
Adjusting for inflation, these cruises started at nearly $20,000, topping out at just over $200,000 adjusted for inflation. The ship remained in use under various owners until sinking in 2007, becoming the first cruise liner to sink in the region when it struck an unidentified object near the South Shetland Islands.
While various large ships made their way to Antarctica after this, new rules forced an end to Antarctic cruises by large vessels in 2009.
Air travel to Antarctica is just has hit or miss. A handful of different countries operated flights from the 1970’s to 1990’s before the launch of Antarctica Flights in 1994. This airline is still in service, departing from destinations in Australia regularly to do flyovers.
No passport is required for these trips as these planes do not land on the icy continent. The majority of Antarctica’s tourists today arrive by boat or yacht.
While people are able to visit Antarctica, there are many regulations in place to protect wildlife, research, and natural resources.
These rules are as a result of the Antarctic Treaty, which went into effect in 1961. Tourists in Antarctica generally take part in outdoor activities like camping, snowshoeing, hiking, and cross-country skiing. Between 2009 and 2010 approximately 37,000 people visited Antarctica.
Keith Holland is an avid traveller and an adventure enthusiast. He currently works creating content for Go Momentum, but he takes off on a trip whenever he can.