When it comes to dream destinations, the driest, windiest, and coldest place on Earth may not immediately come to mind. Yet for many modern-day explorers, Antarctica ranks high on their trip-of-a-lifetime lists. To be sure, expeditions to the Great White Continent are hotter than ever, with Zegrahm's expert field leaders naming it among their top five spots for adventure in 2016 (see blog post, 5 Places That'll Get Your Heart Pumping in 2016).
For those with a penchant for frosty forays, we've put together our latest travel guide, Antarctica: The Ultimate Travel Guide. The 12-page primer covers everything you need to know about visiting this enigmatic continent, from fun facts about wildlife to tips on staying fashionably warm and dry.
The numbers alone are enough to make a statistician's head spin: Antarctica's surface—some 8.5 million square miles, or 1.5 times the size of the United States—is more than 99 percent ice, and contains nearly 70 percent of the fresh water on the planet. Its polar deserts (which comprise an area larger than the Sahara, Arabian, Gobi, and Kalahari combined) haven't seen rain for 2 million years. If all of its ice sheets melted, the world's oceans would rise by more than 200 feet. (Not sure of the difference between an ice sheet and an iceberg? Our travel guide includes a handy lingo list, as well.)
As for wildlife, visitors can expect to see more than 40 bird species, including five species of albatross and seven different types of penguins. Expedition guests spot vast colonies of breeding gentoo, Adelie, and emperor penguins along the coastal regions and off-shore islands, and a colorful diagram reveals how these extraordinary birds have adapted to Antarctica's harsh environment.
Antarctica: The Ultimate Travel Guide also features a detailed timeline of explorations to the seventh continent, including those of Sir Ernest Shackleton; his historic hut, which still stands, is often a stop on voyages to the region. Complete lists of where to go, what to do, essentials to pack, and the best times to visit promise to make your Antarctic adventure the coolest yet. You can download a copy of the guide below: