Get the lay of the land in extremely high definition imagery. Do not miss the McMurdo Flying Tour. The mosaic was compiled using imagery between 1999 and 2003 but it’s still very much worth a gawk.
If a tour operator is not a member, their expedition is the equivalent of a gypsy cab ride around the most dangerous place on earth. Heed these guidelines at all times.
The site also contains a wealth of news, fact sheets, statistics, and many things you haven't even begun to consider. A rabbit hole, in the best possible sense.
If questions like these have crossed your mind: Will I be in a particular country or no particular country, do I need a passport on land, can I have my passport stamped, are claims made and/or recognized? You can Wiki that.
Or you can go to the home of the Antarctic Treaty System for more:
Sentry by Vanessa Stephen made available through CC license on Flikr.
Antarctica. The Ice. South. One of the most beautiful, dangerous, fascinating, pristine places in the world. Humans have only had a tenuous foothold on the frozen continent for about a century. First came the explorers. Some survived to tell the tale, some did not. One famously and tragically told his tale but he (and his two companions) didn’t make it out alive. We only know their final footfalls from the journal where he said his farewell, laid down the pen, and went still in the cold for the last time.
The Belgica, the ship carrying the Belgian expedition from 1897-1899. Courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org.
Then came the whalers and fishermen, who still troll in small numbers against unenforceable international law.
Then came the scientists, who accompanied explorers from the beginning, but they now dominate the population as it ebbs and flows from the bustle of the austral summer to the total darkness of the polar winter. A few explorers dot the landscape each season - climbing Mount Vinson, scaling lesser peaks, traversing glacial valleys or challenging the Ice on skis. There are few notable firsts left to claim, but this doesn’t stop the obsessed few from pitting themselves against the unforgiving continent year after year.
And now comes a new contingent: you - the Antarctic tourist. Despite the risks, something compels each visitor to make the journey. Whether a scientist, base mechanic, ship’s crew, film maker, climber or tourist, the Antarctic has plenty to satisfy the curious mind: geography, hydrology, glaciology, global climate patterns, neutrino detection, austral lights, katabatic winds, ancient entombed seas, seals, penguins, petrels, whales, stories of survival, death, tragedy, triumph, discovery, whimsy, experimentation, growing environmental threats, exotic international legal structures, and yes – even culture. Here’s a taste.
A spine-tingler. Werner Herzog applies his askew view to the people and places of the austral summer. Fascinating human portraits of the researchers and the staff who support them –or as Herzog calls them: “professional dreamers.” Stunning cinematography. Do not miss this one.
Selected and Annotated By:
For more information about this and other Penn Excursions, visit the Penn Alumni Travel Website.
The Endurance (DVD)
“In August, 1914, Sir Ernest Shackleton, renowned explorer set sail with 27 men on his ship The Endurance. His plan was to be the first expedition to cross the Antarctic continent. Marooned on four feet of ice, in over 8,000 feet of deep water, Shackleton and his crew survived some 635 days and nights, without proper shelter or rations, enduring the harshest conditions imaginable.” A solid documentary.
"The expedition ship Discovery in Antarctic waters." Courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org.