The coldest, driest, windiest and highest continent on Earth, Antarctica is doing a good job of stealing all the superlatives. So we know it has penguins, but no polar bears (other pole). It has research centres but no time zone. And it has loads of ice, but no rain or snow has fallen in some areas for over 2 million years.
But what else?
Here are 10 facts about Antarctica you didn’t know…
Tinder works here now
Looking for love? Numbers aren’t exactly on your side (the total population fluctuates between 200 and 1000 people, weather dependent), but don’t let that discourage you. Tinder found its first match in 2014 when two scientists swiped right and met up for a date. If things work out, you could always get married in one of the continent’s seven churches. BYO witnesses.
Mt. Erebus spews out gold dust
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The world’s southernmost active volcano is a pretty awesome piece of geology. Not only does it have a simmering lava lake that steams and pops all year round; it also spews out crystals and microscopic particles of pure gold all over the White Continent.
There are two ATMs
No cash? No worries! Wells Fargo operates two ATMs on Antarctica. Unfortunately, they’re both in the same place. So unless you happen to be passing the McMurdo Station, you’re a bit screwed.
Global warming is actually affecting Antarctica’s gravity
Since 2009, we’ve been losing over 100 square km of Antarctica a year. We know by now that this is causing rising water levels, but small changes have also been detected in the Earth’s gravity field. And while flying penguins may sound like a surprise upside to global warming, we bet they don’t feel the same way.
So, STOP THE MADNESS, and please turn down your thermostat.
It has a red waterfall
The grim remnants of a polar Game-of-Thrones-style Red Wedding? Thankfully not. Running slowly out of the Taylor Glacier, the crimson colour actually comes from the rock’s iron.
They’re leaders in gender equality
Or should that be… egg-quality? It seems Antarctica has the highest number of stay at home dads in the world. Yep – it turns out that aside from their impeccably fancy wardrobes, penguins are also pretty cool when it comes to equal opportunities. Male Emperor Penguins incubate the egg while the female goes in search of food. Then, after the egg has hatched, parent penguins share childcare and hunting responsibilities between them. What a world!
In similar news, Antarctica held its very own Women’s March in 2017, featuring signs including Penguins for Peace, Seals for Science and Cormorants for Climate.
Let’s get surgical, surgical…
For a while, some territories would refuse to let you work on Antarctica until you had your appendix and wisdom teeth removed. This is down to the Russian surgeon, Leonid Rogozov, who became seriously ill with appendicitis there in 1961. With bad weather blocking any hope of outside help, he eventually performed an appendectomy on himself. He was back at work two weeks later.
Want to claim a piece of land? Try giving birth on it…
Argentina once tried to settle their Antarctic land dispute with Chile by sending over a pregnant scientist named Silvia Morella de Palma. She gave birth to a son in 1977- the first documented person to be born on the continent. Strictly speaking, the plan didn’t work. His brother was also born there 12 years later. It didn’t work then either. Soz, Sylvia.
Over 40,000 travellers now visit Antarctica every year
The main jumping off point is Ushuaia – no, not the club in Ibiza, the port on the tip of Argentina, and the southernmost city in the world.
Which, *adventure klaxon sounds* you’ll be travelling to South America to start your expedition. Boom! Two amazing continents in one.
…And most of them are helping the environment by visiting.
Most Antarctica tour operators take part in responsible, clean ocean initiatives, and our Polar tour operators, G Adventures are leading the way. So far, the crew on board the MS Expedition have helped G’s non-profit partner, Planeterra raise over $400,000 for some of the most important ocean health initiatives, worldwide.
So travellers boarding an expedition to the ends of the Earth can rest assured that they won’t be leaving any nasty footprints there. A cut of the tour cost, and any extra donations, will be used to clean, protect and gather insightful data on the health of our oceans and their inhabitants.
Polar trips are once-in-a-lifetime type stuff, with Antarctica being the least explored/accessible continent in the entire world, and all that. Populated by huge whales, waddles of penguins (we love a good collective noun) and squawking seals, the wildlife is an attraction all by itself. But so is the vast expanse of ice and its gargantuan icebergs. Few people have ventured this far, making it the poster boy of intrepid travel.
Intrigued yet? Head to our Antarctica hub and book and research your trip now.
Fancy hanging out with polar bears, more? We also do Arctic Expeditions, too.