Cliffs of Snow Island, South Shetland Islands. We have ruff seas all the way trough Drake Passage on the way to Antartica and back. Sustained winds of 60+ knots and the strongest gust of 92 knots (47 meters per second). 10 Meter high waves are hard to capture, but at least some Antarctic coastline should show the scale of this drama.

Photo by: GettyImages/Posnov


A Life-Changing Voyage to Antarctica

By: Lucy Sherriff

Take a trip to explore Antarctica. It's not just a physical experience but a spiritual adventure that you won't forget.

December 18, 2019

A cruise to Antarctica is a life-changing experience, compounded by exploration on zodiac boats, diving into the icy water, and trekking on land to visit penguin colonies. But it’s not just the physical experience that has people braving the infamous Drake’s Passage crossing. It’s the spiritual, humbling connection with nature that makes traveling to the end of the earth worthwhile.

Most ships set sail from Ushuaia, in Argentina, and take almost two days to reach West Antarctica. Crossing Drake’s Passage, the body of water between Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands, is known by explorers as one of the roughest, toughest seas in the world to cross.



The first encounter with the Antarctic ice on the way to the Antarctic Peninsula after having passed the Drake Passage.

Photo by: GettyImages/Momentaryawe.com


While the ship is swaying side to side and the horizon completely disappears from view, it’s easy to forget your destination and curse the moment you ever set foot on a boat. But once you’ve survived the crossing, you’re rewarded by the world’s final frozen frontier. Almost completely untouched by humans, apart from a few research stations, Antarctica is pristine, serene and a reminder of what the earth once looked like before humans walked it.

Most trips will include stop offs at the South Shetland Islands, where you’ll be able to explore the continent on foot. Brace yourself for breathtaking beauty as you cross the still, glassy water on zodiac, zipping towards penguin colonies and past seals sunning themselves on icebergs.

If you’re lucky, you’ll experience the spine-tingling moment you watch as a humpback whale passes underneath your tiny zodiac boat and comes up for air the other side. It’s a moment of having to completely surrender to something far greater than yourself, and a humbling recognition of the majesty of wildlife such as whales.

Hike to the summit on Danco Island, an island that’s just 1 mile long and known for its penguins. Scramble up snowy pathways to get to the top of the island and you’ll be rewarded with a 360 panoramic view that few people on earth can claim to have seen. Powdered snow packed onto clifftops that crumbles into the sea; penguins skidding across ice and plopping into the water; seals heaving themselves onto shore with a loud harrumph; but most of all, the vast expanse of a world that people do not live in.



Photo by: GettyImages/Michael Nolan

GettyImages/Michael Nolan

One of the most exhilarating moments is watching the sun set over the Lemaire Channel. Although the landscape is composed of blue sea, white ice and black cliffs, there’s an unimaginable plethora of colors: pinks, purples, greens and oranges fill the sky and cast a glow over the snow.

As you cruise past icebergs that loom menacingly overhead and anchor themselves many depths below sea level, you’re reminded of both the fragility of nature, and its ability to persevere through time. Visiting a place where few people have been is a reminder that humans do not own the planet, and that the planet will be around for long after humans have walked it.

Next Up

Discovering Europe’s Last Wild Rivers

Rivers in the Balkans are largely free-flowing, unlike other bodies of water on the continent. They are home to endemic species of fish, provide habitats for birds, and a playground for watersport daredevils.

Is Bolivia's "Death Road" Still the World's Most Dangerous Road?

Adventure seekers travel from around the world to drive and cycle Bolivia's 43-mile "Death Road." Visit Discovery.com to learn what's so dangerous about it.

5 Magical Reasons to Visit Iceland

Be prepared to be wowed by this unique island country.

Climb England’s Stomach-Churning Iron Way

Adventure into Victorian England with rickety bridges and vertical climbs across a 19th-century mine.

This Little-Known Hiking Path Explores One of the Deepest Gorges in the World

A trek through China's Tiger Leaping Gorge is a journey into the country's most ethnically diverse region, where beauty and fear hang intoxicatingly in the air.

Mountains, Monasteries, and Yaks: Trekking the Majestic Kingdom of Bhutan

The Kingdom of Bhutan is notoriously difficult to get to. But the country’s isolation means its culture has not been diluted over time, and it provides a fascinating step back into a stunning landscape.

Unforgettable International Hiking Vacations

We've selected 5 unforgettable hiking vacations sure to lead you into the thick of your destination.

You Can Hike to a 1950s Plane Wreck in Alaska's Talkeetna Mountains

A US Airforce bomber crashed in the mountains of Alaska during a training mission. Today, adventurous hikers can make the climb to bomber glacier to see what remains of the fuselage.

New Seven Wonders of the World

The following list of the New Seven Wonders is presented without ranking, and aims to represent global heritage.

The Galapagos Islands Guide: What You Should Know

When to go, what to see, what to pack and more.