Antarctica is the coldest, iciest, snowiest, highest and driest continent on earth – a land of superlatives and extremes. It’s full of topographical secrets, including hidden lakes, red water, volcanos and one of the longest mountain ranges on earth. The continent’s ice-capped land and snowy mountains, not to mention 12 million penguins, make an amazing black and white landscape … until the sun sets, revealing multiple watercolors. When people are allowed to visit (December-February), there’s a midnight sun that challenges weary travelers after traversing Drake’s Passage or similar with mountainous waves to get there.
This continent is not a country as it does not have a native population or government, rather a “condominium” arrangement with many countries per the Antarctic Treaty. There are no territories so tour operators can go anywhere in a spirit of true exploration. And therein lies the beauty: visiting Antarctica is true exploration. Plus, it has the purest air you’ll ever breathe and possibly the only square foot no one has stepped on before you. There is only one mailbox on the entire continent; Antarctica is as remote as the planet gets.
The continent includes all ice shelves, archipelagos and islands south of 60° South Latitude: Balleny Islands, Peter I Island, Scott Island, South Orkney Islands and South Shetland Islands. Nearby are the British-owned Falkland Islands and South Georgia, which are sea life sanctuaries.