5 Fascinating Facts about Antarctica

How big is Antarctica? Is it Texas-big or even Alaska-big? Nope, don’t limit your imagination and dream even bigger.

To come close to matching Antarctica’s size, you would need to combine both the United States and Mexico. And it’s not only size that makes Antarctica distinct from any other place on Earth. It is also the highest, driest, coldest, windiest, and brightest continent on our planet. Here are five more fascinating facts about Antarctica:

1. The Dry Valleys in Antarctica are the driest places on earth. With such low humidity and moisture at this portion of the continent, even snow and ice cannot accumulate, which leaves the valleys just a dusty expanse of dirt. 

2. Antarctica is, on average, the windiest place on Earth. Scientists exploring this southerly landmass have reported wind speeds that have reached up to 200 miles per hour. 

3. The Antarctic ice sheet is the single biggest mass of ice in the world and can be up to four miles thick. The continent as a whole contains about 90% of the planet's fresh water ice and around 70% of the total fresh water on Earth!

4. There are 17 total species of penguins, but the continent of Antarctica is home to only four breeding species of them. By far the most common is the chinstrap penguin (Pygoscelis antarctica), which owes its name to the narrow black band under its head. The second-most populated is the Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae), numbering approximately 2.3 million pairs in Antarctica. Other penguin species on the continent include the emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) and the Gentoo penguin (pygoscelis papua).

5. Polar bears don’t eat penguins – it’s a common misconception. Polar bears live in the Arctic and penguins live in Antarctica so the two species will never meet.

THE NEW AGE OF EXPLORATION TRAVEL IS HERE

The New Age of Exploration will start with a whisper, and not a bang (or the rrrrrr-rrrrr of an engine). That’s because in the New Age of Exploration ships will be electric-powered, emissions-free, and silent. When you go into a secluded bay in Antarctica, you’ll only hear the sounds of Arctic terns, glaciers calving, and waves lapping against the ship’s bow, and not the thrum of diesel engines. Thanks to the largest investment in Hurtigruten’s history, that future starts now.

Starting in July 2018, Hurtigruten will launch the first of two hybrid-powered expedition ships. The MS Roald Amundsen honors the famed Norwegian explorer who was the first to traverse the Northwest Passage and reach the South Pole. Outfitted with an auxiliary electric engine, the MS Roald Amundsen represents the first major step toward emissions-free, silent travel. This new expedition ship will provide more itineraries in Antarctica, and put you on the ice, face-to-beak with adorable penguins.

If you want to be part of the New Age of Exploration, the MS Roald Amundsen is the ship where it all begins. And there’s no need to be quiet about it.

Explore with Hurtigruten on the expeditions below:

Antarctica Departures

In 2018, we will offer nine Antarctica departures on the MS Amundsen for you to discover Earth’s most remote and untouched continent. With our emphasis on environmentally sensitive expedition travel, your Antarctic experience will be an intimate one. As a category 2 ship carrying only up to 500 guests, you will be able to step on the continent and see Antarctic wildlife up close. More departures means more opportunities to see penguins, seals, and whales, as well as more opportunities to hike, kayak, and snowshoe.

New Explorer Itineraries

Hurtigruten is expanding its Explorer Voyages on other ships to new destinations around the world, including spectacular voyages to the Northwest Passage, the Caribbean, Central America, South America, Europe, and even along the eastern seaboard of the United States. Our dedication to flexible expedition travel may mean a voyage includes an unplanned detour to a bay to see dolphins playing or whales breaching, or a spur-of-the-moment snorkeling trip on one of our small boats followed by a beach barbecue.

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