Explore the West Antarctic Peninsula

Rate this Adventure 3150 miles 0 ft gain  - Loop Trail

Added by Ashley Goncalves

The West Antarctic Peninsula is a part of the "banana belt" of the Antarctic continent. It's summer temperatures can be as high as 40 Fahrenheit. Its timeless beauty and awe-inspiring sites are entirely unique to this part of the world. It is the easiest part of Antarctica to visit if you're not a scientist, and a variety of ships bring people to see the peninsula annually (National Geographic Expeditions have ships that bring people, for example). The loop of the peninsula is 3150 miles.Those who enjoy rich wildlife experiences will definitely enjoy the peninsula. The unique bird fauna in particular draws birders from around the world. The chance to acquire unique and rare species to one's life-list is too good to pass up!Remarkable animals can be seen here: whales, penguins, seals, and albatross are just a few!

Reasonable temperatures during the summer months make it achievable to stay warm, and ships that allow the general public to see the landscape make the trip that much more comfortable. Some ships visit islands and allow limited numbers of people to land on the islands (many allow limited visits to Palmer Station on the southern tip of Anvers Island).

Another means of visiting this part of the world is as a scientist (as I was). In that case, most travel planning and costs are covered so that you may contribute to our understanding of the continent and its natural dynamics.

There is much room for citizen science as well, especially if one is a birder who shares their collected data.

Most ship routes first move east through the Argentinian Straights (rough seas) to the various islands north of the Antarctic, most often including South Georgia (varies depending on ship), and from their move southwest to the western side of the West Antarctic Peninsula. Many stop at Palmer Station, and if the ship is a smaller size, it will let a limited number of people take a tour of the station and visit other nearby islands. Some cruise ships offer kayaks to enjoy the scenery from a more personal perspective.

From the peninsula, the ships will move northward through the Drake Passage. These are some of the worlds' most notorious seas, so be prepared with seasickness medication. Usually the Drake Passage takes from 1 to 2 days to get through, and even once through, you may met even rougher seas in the Argentinian Straights.

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