April 23, 2024

Your Ultimate Guide to Antarctica

- By Franny Bergschneider

Continue reading Your Ultimate Guide to Antarctica

Why is Antarctica the ultimate adventure? Franny Bergschneider, Wild Women Expeditions’ Program and Operations Manager and resident polar expert explains it all!

A Land Dedicated To Science And Peace

person walking near big melting glacier in Antarctica, beautiful landscape of Livingston Island in South Shetland

When you go to Antarctica, it is a complete sensory experience. Antarctica is a continent dedicated to peace, science and conservation, it is protected by the Antarctic Treaty of 1959. In Antarctica, you can disconnect from your daily life and routine and become immersed in an entirely different experience that both educates you, and gives you the opportunity for self reflection and rejuvenation.

How Does The Antarctic Differ From The Arctic?

The North Pole is solid sea ice that’s shifting and moving, surrounded by land. The land surrounding it is the circumpolar Arctic, differing countries including – Canada, Russia, Norway, Greenland, Iceland, USA, etc. All these countries have land in the Arctic. Whereas the Antarctic is land and ice surrounded by water. In the Austral winter (June – Aug), the continent will double in size because the sea ice will freeze around it.

In Antarctica there’s no Indigenous population. It’s inhospitable in the winter, so no one can live there with the exception of a handful of scientists living and working on research base stations.

Antarctica is a sensory overload, it can be overwhelming. The landscape is gigantic, beautiful, and otherworldly, it is like a moonscape. There is nowhere else like it in the world. The scale of the Antarctic is so massive that your brain almost can’t process it.

Why Women Need To Go

Today, there are expedition leaders and guides who are women holding space in places where 100 years ago, women weren’t allowed. Antarctica is a place that was male dominated for so long—you could only get there by ship, women weren’t allowed on ships, it was considered bad luck. As women, it’s important for us to carve out space where we haven’t been allowed to go before. It’s important as women—for women, everyone’s daughter should be able to go there, to understand and know that anything is possible.

The Animals

There’s wildlife everywhere. Every time you go outside, you’re going to see something amazing. Make sure to bring your binoculars, as you will be on the ultimate scavenger hunt. In Antarctica you will have the opportunity to be able to see three species of penguins, Adelie, gentoo and chinstrap, as well as large marine mammals such as humpback whales and leopard seals.

In Antarctica, the density of wildlife is extraordinary. You can get quite close (within the set limits) and the wildlife will not be disturbed by your presence as there are no terrestrial predators in Antarctica. There are wildlife guidelines to follow, and you will be briefed on the etiquette. You can get within five meters to seals or penguins, and just observe their behaviour.

Getting There

The travel time and crossing the Drake Passage is time well spent, because visitors can decompress from travel, and learn about conservation, the wildlife and the natural environment from experts. Onboard, there are expert marine biologists, ornithologists, glaciologists, geologists, and historians.

During the two days crossing the Drake passage, you’re learning about the environment that you’re about to experience, you’re immersed in community with your fellow shipmates, you’re taking time to reflect and shut off from the world before you have this completely consuming experience that is going to change you, and get you closer to your sense of self.

Once you’re in Antarctica, everything else falls away, there’s no internet. Resist the temptation to purchase internet access, and take the opportunity to disconnect. It’s such a special experience because it’s not like any other trip. You’ll be sleeping on the ship for the whole time (unless you select the adventure option, and go camping for one night.) You’ll have your little safe space, your cabin, where you can unpack and relax.

When you’re in Antarctica, you’re given this gift and this opportunity to disconnect. Everything is set up to support your experience. You know where the meals are every day, you know when you’re meeting your group, where you all gather in the main lounge, you know information will be delivered about what you will be doing the next day. There’s a daily program, so you’re informed, you don’t have to worry about the timing as there will be announcements leading you where you need to be and when. And so, you go where you’re supposed to, and you show up when you’re supposed to, and all you have to do is just absorb the experience and take it in, which is such a gift in today’s world, to just relax into the present moment and experience the adventure.

The trip is set up for you to be existing in the top tier of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – Self Actualization. Your food, clothing and safety are all taken care of onboard. Love and belonging needs (friendship) and self-esteem are also easily achieved as you are within a community of like-minded travellers, learning and experiencing this adventure together. This all culminates in self-actualization, as you allow yourself to surrender to the present, and enjoy every moment.

Immersive Experiences – Out and About

The rule of thumb is if you want to leave the ship and explore Antarctica, you need to go on a ship that has 200 people or less. Usually there are two excursions every day, either a land excursion or a zodiac excursion. Antarctica is a completely immersive experience as you are getting out and about in a boat.

I’ve had so many conversations with women who come and they say to me: ‘Seeing you drive this zodiac made me realize that I’m living in my comfort zone and I need to step out of it more often.’ This trip gives women the opportunity to feel safe and empowered, to take risks and take up space, to get out of their comfort zone and do the things that they’ve always wanted to do.

Why Travel with Wild Women Expeditions?

When you travel with Wild Women Expeditions, you are travelling with other like-minded adventurous women. Women in our community are amazingly supportive and ready for a challenge. Hello polar plunge! A Wild Women Expeditions host will be on your expedition to facilitate and curate the wild women experience onboard, with exclusive events and excursions throughout the journey.

Please note: These are not an exclusive Wild Women Expeditions or 100% women-only trip. We have partnered with Quark Expeditions for these journeys. The Wild Women group size on the Ocean Explorer (capacity 138 guests) can range from 10 to 40 women. In addition, the ship’s staff and crew (105) will also be co-ed.

Your Turn

In 2025/2026, Wild Women Expeditions has partnered with Quark Expeditions to bring you two amazing expeditions to the Antarctic.

1. Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctica: Explorers and Kings – Nov 14 – Dec 3, 2023

  • On this expedition you will have the opportunity to see elephant seal pups, fur seal pups and king penguins while in South Georgia
  • On the Falklands Islands you will explore Albatross colonies, and have a day in Port Stanley (This is the only itinerary that visits the Falkland Islands)
  • Explore Antarctica

2. Antarctica Explorer: Discovering the 7th Continent – Feb 9 – 22, 2026

  • This expedition is exclusively Antarctica, and you have the most days exploring the 7th continent
To learn more or to book, please contact one of our Polar Experts at adventure@wildwomenexpeditions.com or call 1 888 993 1222.

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