stepping foot on Antarctica guaranteed?

Famous for its enormous icebergs, towering glaciers and shimmering summer light, Antarctica offers some of the planet's most awe inspiring landscapes. The North Atlantic and Arctic evoke images of sparse snow covered lands, but when summer comes it bursts with colour and life.

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stepping foot on Antarctica guaranteed?

Postby rtraveler2004 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 2:46 pm

Hello everyone. I was looking into doing an Antarctica trip with G Adventures sometime in the next few years and was wandering if each of the trips you actually do step on the continent each time? I was reading that sometimes weather can be bad and wandered if that had effected trips in the past. After this summer, I will have been to every continent but Antarctica so it is important that I get this last one eventually! I guess I should ask, how much of a chance do the Antarctic trips not actually make it to docking on the actual continent and walking on it (not the islands, but the peninsula attached to Antarctica.) Any help or previous trip goers I would love to hear from! Thanks!
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Re: stepping foot on Antarctica guaranteed?

Postby giskard » Sun Mar 11, 2012 3:04 pm

When it comes to Antarctica, I don't think you can really guarantee anything... the weather is prone to quick changes and if the ice is behaving the wrong way it might just block your access to viable landing spots.

I think that going later in the season, when there's (slightly) less ice, would give you a better chance, but the weather might still just be against you.

That said, I really have no idea how big the chance is of the weather messing things up. I went in early November and we had the best weather imaginable, we really lucked out. Still, at some landing points, there was just no way to get through the ice (in our case, we never reached Petermann Island, on one of the best weather days of our trip). I don't think I've heard of any of the trips going down there in the past years that did not reach at least one of the mainland landing sites.

I must say I've never quite understood some people's fixation on the "actual continent". When you set foot on one of the islands, you'll still have been to the continent of Antarctica, just not the Antarctic mainland. (It's like setting foot on Madagascar... you'll still have been to the continent of Africa;)
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Re: stepping foot on Antarctica guaranteed?

Postby sthyorks » Sun Mar 11, 2012 6:38 pm

We went to Antarctica on the last trip of the 2008 season ie March and we did 7 zodiac landings on the islands and mainland. Not one landing was excluded because of bad weather.
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Re: stepping foot on Antarctica guaranteed?

Postby tletter » Sun Mar 11, 2012 7:17 pm

rtraveler2004 wrote:how much of a chance do the Antarctic trips not actually make it to docking on the actual continent and walking on it (not the islands, but the peninsula attached to Antarctica.)

As a rule tourist ships don't dock on the continent since there are no docks except at some research bases that are not generally visited.

One will probably get a chance to get off a Zodiac at a landing site on the peninsula. In our case we landed at a Chilean base that at high tide is separated from the peninsula but not at low tide. Personally I didn't check if it was high tide or low tide as there were much more interesting things to check out.
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Re: stepping foot on Antarctica guaranteed?

Postby tletter » Sun Mar 11, 2012 7:19 pm

tletter wrote:
rtraveler2004 wrote:how much of a chance do the Antarctic trips not actually make it to docking on the actual continent and walking on it (not the islands, but the peninsula attached to Antarctica.)

As a rule tourist ships don't dock on the continent since there are no docks except at some research bases that are not generally visited.

You will probably get a chance to get off a Zodiac at a landing site on the peninsula. In our case we landed at a Chilean base that at high tide is separated from the peninsula but not at low tide. Personally I didn't check if it was high tide or low tide as there were much more interesting things to check out.
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Re: stepping foot on Antarctica guaranteed?

Postby rtraveler2004 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 7:24 pm

Ya that is a good point. I would love to actually set foot on the mainland, but the islands would count too I guess bc I have been to Dominican Republic, but just an island off of it, but I still do count as being to that country. It would be nice actually setting food on the mainland though.
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Re: stepping foot on Antarctica guaranteed?

Postby jam3056 » Tue Mar 13, 2012 8:23 am

We just returned from the Quest for the Antarctic Circle trip and I think that the most important thing to remember is that this is, in fact, a quest, not a guarantee. We were prevented from doing our first Continental landing due to ice, however, the Crew and Captain did everything possible to find another way to achieve the landing. We succeeded the next day by landing at the Chilean (or Argentinian, I don't remember) base that has a dock. Everything on this trip is controlled by the weather, so, if you are kayaking, be prepared for disappointment. We had a lot of days that were not suitable for launching. There was at least one day when they couldn't even get the zodiacs in the water safely, so we all had to remain on board. That's why they call it ADVENTURE TRAVEL!! Nevertheless, it was the most incredible trip we have ever taken and would highly recommend it to flexible travelers.
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Re: stepping foot on Antarctica guaranteed?

Postby TravelFun » Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:00 pm

If there's one thing sure about Antartica and that is, nothing's guaranteed...you have to be open-minded, able to go with the flow and most of all, embrace whatever the continent gives you. Actually apply this to all trips and you'll never be disappointed :P

Antarctica is truely amazing and the sheer excitement each day, each moment of what you'll do, what you'll see and when you'll see it, just keeps you guessing. I went in Feb'10 and didn't make one landing due to the weather but hey, I was in Antarctica and lucky to be there.

Don't worry about what you won't do but embrace what you do, what you see and what you feel !


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Re: stepping foot on Antarctica guaranteed?

Postby ExplorerWannaBe » Wed Mar 14, 2012 1:41 am

Nothing is guaranteed but the crew know how much emotional store people place in setting foot on the continent. I gather the usual plan is to set ashore in Neko Harbor which is along the peninsula but is on the continent itself rather than an island. This is where we set ashore and it was a great experience.
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Re: stepping foot on Antarctica guaranteed?

Postby alexcowan » Sat Oct 12, 2013 5:47 pm

Nothing is ever guaranteed, and in Antarctica there are only a few mainland landing sites. That said, most of the time we manage to land on one of them.

All of the islands down around the Gerlache count as 'the Antarctic continent' so nobody should worry about this! However, if a visit to Manhatten would leave you feeling that you'd never been to the continent of North America then consider the following...

The Antarctic Peninsula is one part of the big chunk of rock that is Antarctica. The islands are part of this same chunk and therefore the same continent.

But they're islands! Doesn't that make a difference?

Well, one of the very famous and popular 'mainland' sites is Waterboat Point. Trouble is, it's only mainland at low tide. Does that count as 'continent'? Is is part of the continent for only half the day?

Not convinced? Ok, let's imagine you've landed on a bona fide mainland landing spot like Neko Harbour. Would it concern you to know that the only reason this spot is connected to the mainland is because of the kilometres of ice lying on it? Without this ice the whole peninsula would be surrounded by ocean, cut off from the rest of Antarctica. And of course if all that ice had melted the sea would be approx. 60m deeper so the peninsula island would be pretty small. Except that without the weight of the ice, after thousands of years the entire landmass would spring upwards, possibly enough to 'join' it to the mainland.

Suddenly the concept of islands, continents and sea level seems a bit complicated.

Well, maybe the ice is good enough for you; it's mainland because the ice joins it. Well what about the winter? In winter ice joins all the islands to the mainland...so are they continent for half the year (except Waterboat Point, which gets bumped up to 0.75 of the year, assuming an iceberg doesn't get jammed in the channel, increasing the proportion of time it spends as part of the continent)?

Turns out it's not simple when you try to base things on walkability, connection or sea level!

If you want to land on the Antarctic Continent then take it from a geologist...Danco and Cuverville Islands are as much part of Antarctica as Manhatten or Newfoundland are part of North America! :D
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Re: stepping foot on Antarctica guaranteed?

Postby jen_the_rockhopper » Sun Nov 24, 2013 10:00 pm

oh Alex i miss your geo talks!
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Re: stepping foot on Antarctica guaranteed?

Postby nburgess31 » Fri Jan 03, 2014 11:18 pm

rtraveler2004 wrote:Hello everyone. I was looking into doing an Antarctica trip with G Adventures sometime in the next few years and was wandering if each of the trips you actually do step on the continent each time? I was reading that sometimes weather can be bad and wandered if that had effected trips in the past. After this summer, I will have been to every continent but Antarctica so it is important that I get this last one eventually! I guess I should ask, how much of a chance do the Antarctic trips not actually make it to docking on the actual continent and walking on it (not the islands, but the peninsula attached to Antarctica.) Any help or previous trip goers I would love to hear from! Thanks!


As others mentioned not guaranteed for the continent but the islands count and you will definitely get to land on one of them at some point. If you only landed in Tasmania you would still have visited the continent of Australis.

The crew will try to make things happen, and even vary the plan to try to make the actual landing on the continent but safety must came first. You'll have a great time.

Amazing lectures and experts who will add the the experience. Make sure you are ready for the Drake Passage as well, lots of people got sea sick! Have fun.

http://nathanburgessinsights.com/2012/1 ... ighlights/
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Re: stepping foot on Antarctica guaranteed?

Postby jasonarmstrong » Tue Jan 07, 2014 10:18 am

When it comes to visiting Antarctica you will have to realize that there is never any guarantee. You are talking about weather conditions and temperatures that are experienced in no other part of the world. It isn't the same as a road trip across America. You may have smooth sailing all the way there, and be within view of the continent when everything goes bad. The weather can change at a moments notice which means that your trip can also change in a very short period of time. Companies who offer these types of trips certainly do their best to keep their end of the deal, but there is no guarantee that you will be able to walk on Antarctica no matter what company or package you choose.
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