There are neither permanent residents nor native inhabitants in Antarctica. However, about 4,000 people stay on scientific bases in the short summer period and around 1,000 in total during the winter months. In addition around 30,000 tourists visit the area during summer.
Antarctica is the windiest, coldest and highest continent on Earth. On the Antarctic Peninsula, which is the area we sail in, the temperatures average 0-5 degrees Celsius during summer (November – March). During your journey temperatures will vary from warm summer in Buenos Aires (30°C/ 80°F) to winter (around 0°C/ 32°F) in Antarctica. Expect periods of high winds when in Antarctica – cold air travels down the glaciers and iceshelves. These are called katabatic winds and can occur when you least expect it.
Briefly: It was the ancient Greeks who first came up with the idea of Antarctica. They knew about the Arctic - named Arktos - The Bear, from the constellation the great bear, and decided that in order to balance the world there should be a similar cold southern land mass that was the same but the opposite 'Ant - Arktos' - opposite The Bear. The first person believed to have landed on the continent was the Norwegian, Carsten Borchgrevink who also pioneered the use of sled-dogs for transportation in Antarctica. Roald Amundsen won the race to the South Pole on December 14, 1911. The first International Geophysical Year IGY was 1957-1958 when 12 nations built more than 60 research stations in Antarctica and formed the beginning of an international cooperation. In 1961 the Antarctic Treaty came into effect.
Being the coldest place on Earth, Antarctica supports no terrestrial mammals - there are no trees or shrubs, and only two species of flowering plants, Antarctic hair grass (Deschampsia Antarctica) and Antarctic pearlwort (Colobanthus quitensis). The sea is what supports most creatures, such as penguins and seals. In Antarctica you will see thousands of penguins eagerly nesting and feeding during the short summer months. There is a rich variety of mammals. As they have not been hunted for decades, most species are more curious than afraid of tourists. There is also an abundance of birds, with the mighty Albatross as the king of the sky.
Argentine pesos are used in Argentina. US dollars may be exchanged into local currency at either banks or Money Exchange kiosks, at the open market exchange rate of the day. Some shops might accept US cash, though this is not a common practice. You can also withdraw cash from ATM’s using your credit card and PIN code. When visiting the Falkland Islands local pounds (FIP) are used as well as pound sterling. When landing in Antarctica some bases do accept USD cash only. In Port Lockroy, the following currencies are accepted; GBP, USD, Euro, and major credit cards (for purchases above 100 USD)
Given its isolation, the Antarctic environment is probably the most pristine natural environment on the planet. For visitors, this fact comes with a set of obligations – the most important and general is to leave no traces behind. The Antarctic Treaty and IAATO prohibiting more than 100 people to be ashore simultaneously strictly regulate human traffic in Antarctica. All guests will be given instructions on how to behave when on shore in Antarctica. Antarctic Treaty Recommendation XVIII-1 and IAATO guidelines are mandatory and must be followed.
According to IAATO regulations and to avoid any transmission of diseases to the vulnerable ecosystem in Antarctica we ask our travellers to bring clean clothes to wear ashore. For more information, see equipment list.
Wheelchair passengers may travel on the MS Fram to Antarctica as the ship is handicap accessible, however, unfortunately, excursions and landings are not adapted for handicapped travellers.
In case of a medical emergency in Antarctica the only method of evacuation is by plane to the city of Punta Arenas, Chile, as there are no hospital facilities in Antarctica. This is very expensive and dependent on favourable weather conditions. Therefore comprehensive travel/health insurance is mandatory.
To comply with IAATO and Hurtigruten ASA regulations all guests must have completed the IAATO medical questionnaire including a confirmation of fitness to travel from your doctor. You must take the completed questionnaire on board and deliver it to the ship’s doctor. Guests without the completed questionnaire may be refused embarkation if the ship’s doctor has doubts about your health condition.
Buenos Aires; GMT -3
For example Central Europe 12.00 noon - Buenos Aires 09.00
Ushuaia; GMT -4
For example Central Europe 12.00 noon - Ushuaia 08.00
This time difference is in operation during the South American summer season (mid October to March).