For 125 years, Norwegian-born Hurtigruten has been exploring the world’s remote places since we started delivering the mail to the remote and rugged coast of Norway. And we continue to explore fascinating destinations, including Norway, Svalbard, Greenland, Iceland, Europe, Central America, the Caribbean, Arctic Canada, South America, Northern Africa — and even that frigid land at the bottom of the globe where Seattle architect and mother Bernadette Fox famously disappeared in Maria Semple’s 2013 Novel, “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?”
While Bernadette traveled to Antarctica to escape Seattle and clear her mind, there are many great reasons to visit this fascinating continent:
- It's big. Really big.
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.
- Penguins, penguins, and penguins.
Antarctica is home to seven different species of penguins and they are very curious about and unafraid of humans. Learn more about the different species of penguins in Antarctica.
- It's surprisingly dry.
The Dry Valleys in Antarctica are the driest places on earth. With such low humidity and moisture on this portion of the continent, snow and ice cannot even accumulate. A dry destination could sound very appealing to Seattlelites right about now.
- Giant ice.
Most of the planet's fresh water sits in Antarctica's ice. The Antarctic Ice Sheet is the single biggest mass of ice in the world and can sometimes be up to four miles thick. The continent contains about 90 percent of the planet's freshwater ice! In March of 2000, an ice chunk broke off the Ross Ice Shelf that was roughly the size of the state of Connecticut. And icebergs come in all shapes and sizes with no two alike.
- It's mountainous.
While Antarctica is covered in ice, it actually holds one of the world's biggest mountain ranges — the Gamburtsev Mountains — which stretch out more than 750 miles. The highest peaks are estimated to be around 9,000 feet or about one-third the size of earth's tallest mountain — Mount Everest.
- Hundreds of great lakes.
Another interesting geographic feature hidden under the ice sheet is Lake Vostok, a freshwater lake about the size of Lake Ontario that is buried under 2.5 miles of frozen water. And deep Lake in Antarctica is so salty that it cannot freeze, even in temperatures as low as negative 4 degrees Fahrenheit!
- Seas brimming with life.
Kayak in seas teeming with marine and bird life. Apart from a few herbivorous Antarctic creatures, all animals on the southernmost continent are predators: whales, seals, albatross, and more. Learn more about the abundant life in Antarctica.
- It's hotter than you think.
Antarctica is home to Mount Erebus — the southern-most active volcano in the world — as well as the only known "lava lakes," which have held liquid magma for eons despite the continent's frigid conditions.
- More stars than you knew existed.
Although 30 different countries operate 80 research stations on the continent, there are very few human inhabitants, plus the darkest polar night, and no light pollution. Which add up to the perfect ingredients for amazing stargazing.
- Sunlight all day and all night
When you travel to Antarctica, you'll get to see the midnight sun, one of the most fascinating phenomenon. During the summer months the sun does not set in Antarctica, which means it actually receives more sunlight than the equator at that time.