You do not have to be a Scott, Shackleton or Amundsen to visit Antarctica but then it is extremely unlikely that you would be travelling as far as the actual South Pole. However, the Antarctic is accessible by taking a cruise or flying into one of the research centres on the perimeter of the land mass. The experience will much more comfortable than it was for the explorers and it will be special. It is said that the Antarctic has a haunting beauty and will almost always exceed expectations.
Just to put the Antarctic into perspective, it is the southernmost continent and the mainland is twice the size of Australia and almost 1.5 times larger than the United States. 98% of it is covered in ice and it contains (believe it or not) 70% of the World’s fresh water. No one country actually owns Antarctica although a few lay claim to owning territories on which they have scientific research centres.
What is Antarctica really? It is a mixture of ice shelves and mountain ranges or, put another way, snow, ice, water and rock. The highest point is at 16,000 feet/4900 metres. It has several volcanic mountains of which Mount Erebus is probably the best known. It can only really be visited between November and March when the weather allows access. At this time of the year, it has 24 hours of daylight.
The only permanent inhabitants are animals which include penguins, fur seals, blue whales and orcas.
Most of the Antarctic cruise ships depart from Ushuaia in the very south of Argentina. Smaller vessels can get closer to the land but all ships provide phenomenal views.