Nature photographers love Antarctica for its endless opportunities for picturesque snaps. It’s virtually uninhabited and is covered almost entirely by an ice sheet, giving it a unique appearance like nowhere else on Earth. Giant icebergs are floating all around; in fact, the largest iceberg in the world broke from Antarctica’s Rhone Shelf last May. The unusual midnight sun means that there are months every year when the sun doesn’t set. Due to its climate and remote location, there are no permanent residents of Antarctica—the only people you’ll see are possibly scientists or fellow cruisers on expedition. This absence of people makes photographs and nature viewing even more striking. In addition to the ice, Antarctica has beautiful mountains as well that you can spot peeking through the ice or even without snow.
You’re guaranteed to get up close to wildlife on an expedition cruise to Antarctica. Watch penguins waddling about and swimming in the crystal-clear waters. Spot seven species that can only be found there, including the famous emperor penguins. There are also seven species of whale found in Antarctica, including humpbacks and blue whales (the largest creature that’s ever lived, measuring up to 110 feet long and weighing up to 190 tons). Spot 35 species of bird including elegant albatrosses gliding across the sky. And gaze at rare seal species making their home on the pack ice surrounding Antarctica—you can often get very close to these fearless creatures. Your expedition leader will educate you on what to do and what to avoid when in contact with local wildlife.
Voyages to Antarctica typically make a stop at the quaint Falkland Islands, a British overseas territory on the Patagonian Shelf, boasting a population of around 3,300 and a thriving fishing industry. Wildlife spotting, along with fishing, hiking, kayaking and chatting with locals at the pubs remain popular activities. In the capital of Stanley, learn all about Antarctic exploration as well as the 1982 conflict with Argentina at the Historic Dockyard Museum. Other attractions include the Whalebone Arch, a large outdoor arch constructed from the whalebones of blue whales, and Christ Church Cathedral, the world’s southernmost Anglican church.