There are many travel destinations that most of us would consider extreme. From the Amazon rain forests to the peaks of the Himalayas, high adventure waits under some of the most extreme conditions. Yet it is hard to argue about which destinations are the most extreme of all. Hands down, those destinations are Antarctica and the Arctic.
The two opposing poles are, by their nature and geographic location, the most extreme environments on Earth. They are too harsh during the winter months for large-scale habitation and, because of the harshness of the winter seasons, they do not provide enough of the natural resources necessary for comfortable habitation during the summer. The result is that people love to visit but do not really want to live in either location.
Here are some things you might want to know if you are planning a trip to either destination:
Despite its foreboding environment, tourism on Antarctica is actually quite popular. It began with sea voyages to the continent in the 1960s, followed by fly-overs originating from New Zealand and Australia in the 1970s. Today, a big part of Antarctic tourism is luxury cruises that bring as many as 20,000 visitors to the area every year. The price for cruising to Antarctica is comparable to that which you would pay for most other exotic destinations.
If you are interested in actually setting foot on the Antarctic continent, you can do so by getting in touch with a specialist tour operator offering Antarctic excursions. Tour companies must have permits to operate, so be aware that you will not find chain hotels and restaurants. A holiday that involves landing on Antarctica will be one that also involves very sparse accommodations and virtually no amenities.
Tourism in the Arctic is quite a bit more welcoming due to the fact that the Arctic Circle is much more populated. Furthermore, the Arctic is much more accessible by way of the US, Russia, Canada and Central and Eastern Europe. Many people are drawn to this corner of the world by the incredible, unspoiled nature that is so easy to be immersed in.
Your visit to the Arctic Circle can be geared toward a number of different activities. For example, you might choose to stay in one of the many ice hotels constructed within the Arctic Circle during the winter months. Another option is to visit Alaska or the Canadian territories offering dog sledding experiences. Alternatively, maybe you are the type of person who would prefer to take an Arctic cruise.
The key to visiting both Antarctica and the Arctic is to choose the right season. An experienced tour operator can tell you when the harshest and most dangerous conditions exist – avoid those times. A good tour operator can also hook you up with some very good deals on transport, accommodation, and all-inclusive packages.
Antarctica and the Arctic are not for everyone. However, if you do not mind extremes, both offer an opportunity for the holiday of a lifetime.