Antarctic Trips 101

Antarctic Trips 101
After working for the topmost area of the Trans Alaska Pipeline know as Atigun Pass, this man has developed love for cold climates. Shivering with delight, this retired engineer wanted to hear more about the plans of the local university’s alumni group who wanted to get into a cool Antarctica adventure! I thought, that sounds like a great idea. Known as the coldest and least hospitable place on earth, Antarctica has long captured the imagination of explorers, both real and the armchair variety.

But as more travelers see so much hassle and financial constraints before getting to this white continent, we see less travelers actually getting here annually. Most trips to the Antarctic Peninsula originate in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in Argentina, and involve a two day, 1,000 kilometres voyage through the Drake Passage, known for some of the roughest sea weather in the world.

Your life can be changed by profound experiences like this one. As early as the late 1800s, voyagers have been attracted to this land first sighted in the year 1820. But the first commercial voyages to the region didn’t begin until a few years after the Antarctic Treaty was signed in 1959, establishing the continent as a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science.

Even with the gradual growth of tourism and travel, it did not soar until the Iron Curtain collapsed in the 1990s. But as scientific programs found no financial assistance, Russian ice rated expedition ships grew suddenly available while tour operators, speedily renovated them for commercial travel as this was a golden opportunity. Something breathtaking and new must be seen by visitors who are mostly seasoned travelers of the world. On the other hand, some are adventurers wanting to be like Sir Ernest Shackleton who boasts of having the greatest survival tales in expedition history, specifically his 1914 endurance expedition.

Antarctica’s enthralling existence enables one to kayak around icebergs, and giant glaciers, fill the breathtaking landscape which certainly appeals to people especially to nature enthusiasts, photographers and artists. Get set to be thrilled once you see penguins, seals and different kinds of whales like minke, killer and humpback. You will have to venture into the circumpolar north to see any signs of polar bears.

The nonexistence of ports and docks led to people relying on zodiac boats which are rubberized and inflatable. Having reached the area, activities like iceberg kayaking, hiking, or simply standing among the penguins await you along with taking loads of photos. Throughout the entire experience, naturalists from the expedition team are there to answer any wildlife, marine mammal, glaciology and historical queries.

His trip, which included eight days aboard a 5 star cruise ship and three days in Buenos Aires, was typical in that it featured several on board lectures on local wildlife and landscapes. He was so thrilled with the unforgettable penguin rookery trips he took along with naturalist tour guides. It was unforgettable how the cuddly short legged birds walked to him and put on a show, curious but never afraid.

But then White Continent exploration is not as exciting for everyone. Tourism, for many conservation experts is a big problems as with the growing number of tourists threatening the continent’s delicate ecosystem, population is reduced after the disruption of the wildlife breeding processes. The international association of Antarctic tour operators has adopted voluntary standards to minimize the environmental impacts of tourism. With strict adherence of excellent environmental and operational laws by tourists, companies and natural programs, the White Continent will be kept pristine.

Television shows only compound the problem, he adds, because they condition us to view animals including the thousands of penguins that call Antarctica home as entertainment. If animals are used to people, they won’t be aggravated. A long term disassociation from nature can be very damaging. But some conservationists are reluctant. However, he argues that by allowing more people to come to this continent, they will develop sensitivity for it on their own.

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4 Great Train Trips

4 Great Train Trips
Befriend some other travellers and look after each other, and each other’s gear, on these great train adventures. At least travel insurance will give you peace of mind if something does happen to go missing.

Trans-Siberian Railway
At over 9000 kilometres in length, and taking a full week non-stop by train, the journey from Moscow to Vladivostok would have to be close to the biggest train adventure available. Or do the several other Trans-Siberian routes surpass it? Moscow to Beijing is another option, as is Moscow-Ulan Bator (Mongolia)-Beijing with the latter shaving 1500 kilometres and a day’s travel off the comparable trip to Vladivostok. From Vladivostok there is a weekly ferry to continue one’s journey to Japan or South Korea. With around seven days worth of travel, you’ll have plenty of time to get to know the Russians, Chinese or other Western travellers on board!

New York to Los Angeles
The USA also has several different routes at one’s disposal, to get you from coast to coast. One trip gives the option of travelling past the Grand Canyon. Another makes its way through the Rockies. A more southern route takes in New Orleans. The options available makes one want to do a return leg, and see what one missed on the way over! The quickest journey takes three nights, but then again, if you were in a hurry, you would take a plane! The major cities and natural attractions (such as the Sierra Nevada mountain ranges on one route) mean that there are plenty of tourist options to extend the scheduled journey.

India
Like in several former colonies, the British left a great train network in India. Getting around is cheap, and an allocation of sleeper beds is usually reserved for international travellers. Book a day or two ahead to ensure you get your spot. While there are many possible itineraries, Calcutta to Mumbai takes in many interesting cities along the way. One would naturally do this over several days. Heading west from Calcutta, one comes across the holy city of Varanasi, which sits on the Ganges River. Everyday cleaning, bathing and even funeral rites can be observed here. Much further west is Agra, home to the amazing, and much photographed Taj Mahal.

Singapore to Bangkok
This lovely trip on comfortable trains gives the traveller a taste of three South-East Asian nations. Apart from Singapore and Bangkok at either end, those deciding to break up the journey can enjoy several interesting stop overs and side trips. Soak up the delightful mix of Malay, Indian and Chinese culture in Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur. Butterworth is the stop to link into a ferry to Penang island, while disembarking at Alor Setar or Arau gives one the option of linking with transport to beautiful Langkawi Island. All this before one even reaches stops in Southern Thailand within striking distance of that country’s beautiful islands and beaches.

Cheap Travel Insurance in hand, you will be excited in hopping on one of these train journeys. One can even get from Western Europe, all the way to East Asia by train.

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