Why Visit Antarctica / Argentina

The lands way down under beckon all who are naturally curious and adventurous. En route as you travel to Antarctica, Argentina glitters in the South American sunshine, eager to wow guests with its vibrant, cosmopolitan capital of Buenos Aires and incredible ecological diversity. Elemental Argentina is a land of fire and ice – volcanoes and glaciers – as well as bone-dry deserts, sky-scraping mountains, lush jungles and a stunning Atlantic coast.


Farther south, Antarctica awaits in remote and vast splendor, enticing modern day explorers to sail on Antarctica cruises in the wake of Drake and discover the Antarctic Archipelago for themselves. It’s a continent of superlatives – coldest, windiest, highest, driest (it’s the largest desert in the world!) – and the habitat of some of the most intriguing and charming “locals” around for it is here where the penguins roam, and the seal and the humpback whale play. Mother Nature has pulled out all the stops on the White Continent, patiently chiseling out fantastic sculptures and mountains of ice, jaw dropping in their immensity. It is the last great wilderness, off the beaten path and far from the madding crowd. Many globetrotters dream of making the journey to this remarkable destination, to cruise to Antarctica; a very fortunate few do. Simply put, Antarctica is like no other place on Earth... and Antarctica travel like no other experience.


Argentina

ARGENTINA & ANTARCTICA IN A NUTSHELL

Located in southeastern South America, Argentina (whose name comes from “argentum,” the Latin word for silver) is the 8th largest country in the world with a population of roughly 44 million people who are lucky enough to live there today. (Former inhabitants include the Eoraptor, one of the oldest known dinosaur species, wandering its prehistoric stomping grounds about 230 million years ago.) Argentinians enjoy a rich culture (“Tango, anyone?”), a calendar chock-full of fiestas, magnificent colonial mansions, luscious fine wines to savor with melt-in-your-mouth steaks. Buenos Aires and its diverse, passionate people – called “Porteños” – pulsate with vitality, and Ushuaia, our planet’s southernmost city, is the springboard to Antarctic adventure.


Antarctica (the Antarctic Archipelago) lies 620 miles southeast of Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost tip of South America. Speculation about the existence of “Terra Australis Incognita” (the “unknown land of the south”) dates back to the ancient Greeks but the first confirmed sighting of the landmass at the bottom of the world occurred many centuries later in 1820. Interest in the newly discovered continent was lukewarm until the 1890s when 16 expeditions ventured there. A veritable United Nations of explorers have journeyed to Antarctica – Anglo-Irishman Ernest Shackleton, Richard Evelyn Byrd of America, Japan’s Nobu Shirase and New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary to name a famous few. Roald Amundsen won the race to the South Pole on Dec. 14, 1911; Robert Falcon Scott and the remaining members of the Terra Nova Expedition reached the Pole on Jan. 17, 1912. Tragically, Scott and his team perished during their desperate attempt to return to base camp. Undeterred, explorers have persisted in braving the expansive icescape.


The first Antarctica-born baby, Argentinian Emilio Marcos Palma, arrived on Jan. 7, 1978. A population explosion did not ensue, however. Today, approximately 4,000 researchers from around the globe live and work in Terra Australis during the Antarctic summer but land and marine wildlife make up the entire permanent resident population.


Antarctica is a continent without countries, towns, industry or time zones. Argentina, France, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States are among the dozen nations that signed the Antarctic Treaty on Dec. 1, 1959. The agreement called for the White Continent to remain demilitarized and reserved exclusively for peaceful endeavors such as scientific research. It continues to be a tranquil haven.


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NATURAL TREASURES

Argentina captivates with its natural beauty; from amazing Iguazú Falls to the pristine wilds of Tierra del Fuego National Park, this stunning country inspires countless “oohs” and “aahs.”


In contrast, the singular beauty of Antarctica can be summed up in one word – ice! It covers 98% of the polar continent’s 5.4 million square miles and can be more than 2½ miles thick in some areas. It seeps off the landmass, forming icy shelves that spread across the ocean; it bobs in the sea as enormous bergs.


All that ice is anything but monotonous. It endlessly beguiles and leaves folks awe-struck as they cruise the Antarctic Archipelago, past islands whimsically named Dream, Halfway, Hermit and Zigzag. High in a brilliant blue sky, the dazzling austral sun acts as a kaleidoscope, constantly changing the shapes, shadows and colors of the huge ice castles dwarfing expeditionary ships. Gleaming white ice becomes emerald green and then blue-green teal before morphing into various shades of blue – azure, ultramarine, cobalt, the violet-blue of lapis lazuli. This is nature’s polar masterpiece, a study in green and blue.

Antarctica

The Antarctic also abounds with living, breathing natural wonders. Ten species of whale swim in the waters off the continent including orca, sei, minke, fin, humpback and blue, the largest creature on Earth. They share the sea with smaller mammals; six types of seal and 11 kinds of dolphin frolic in the waves. And birders love Antarktiké (Greek for “opposite to the north”) where fine-feathered friends are plentiful. Cormorants, albatrosses, skuas, diving petrels, terns, blue-eyed shags and gulls rub wings with the undisputed ruler of the Antarctic avian roost, the penguin. Millions call Antarctica home and all appear delighted to entertain their adoring human fans from up north. Who could forget the comical antics of Adélie penguins… or the dignified Royal Procession of Emperor penguins, ever debonair in their formal attire?

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SELECTED UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN ARGENTINA

  • Los Glaciares National Park, on the border of Argentina and Chile

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Antarctica Argentina Map

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WHAT TO EXPECT IN ARGENTINA & ANTARCTICA WITH TAUCK

  • On-tour film vignettes custom-made for Tauck by BBC Earth natural history experts
  • Onboard naturalists who share their expert insights
  • Shore excursions to islands in the Antarctic Archipelago that are guided by expert naturalists, ornithologists, historians or oceanographers
  • Two nights in Buenos Aires
  • Buenos Aires sightseeing including famed La Recoleta Cemetery and a tango performance
  • Sightseeing in Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego National Park

Antarctica

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