The continent of Antarctica is totally unique and so is having a holiday here, from the packing list for Antarctica to the scenery, there is nothing quite like Antarctica and you won’t soon forget going there. In fact you will most certainly compare every other holiday for the rest of your life to it. The South Shetland Islands are one of the components of this unique continent that make it what it is and they offer the best of scenery and wildlife. This article will talk a little bit more about these islands and some travel tips for exploring them..
Where are they?
The South Shetland Islands are located approximately 120 kilometres from mainland Antarctica. They are perhaps the last port of call when it comes to civilisation in Antarctica, however this is not saying much. Usually people will visit by cruise ship and they will travel from Ushuaia to Antarctica, and this is via the Drake Passage.
What country owns them?
Under the Antarctic Treaty, no country can physically own any part of Antarctica and these also fall under the treaty. Therefore they are free for everyone to visit and their is no visa or required nationality to enter them.
The best islands to visit
Perhaps one of the most interesting of the South Shetland Islands, this place is truly rich in history, nature and wildlife. The historical aspect is generally highlighted by Ernest Shackleton’s dramatic stranding here in 1915, when his ship was damaged by the ice. He was forced to make a small boat trip all the way to South Georgia island, which is an extremely treacherous route and especially for a small boat. The island is also home to a lot of wildlife, in particular penguins.
This island comes complete with an active volcano underneath, but not to fear, it has not erupted since 1991. This makes for a very unique location that allows you to swim in some areas of the island as the water heats the water. Of course the water is still rather cold, but how many people can honestly say that they have been swimming in Antarctica? The island was also once the home to sealers and whalers and offers a view of the old buildings, many of which still stand decaying today.
King George Island
This is the home to 12 research bases from various countries and probably offers the pinnacle of landscapes in the South Shetland Islands. The fjords and bays are certainly sights that you will never ever forget. The island also has its own unique mix of wildlife, with many birds and penguins to see.
Half Moon Island
The shape of this island resembles a half moon and explains the interesting name. This is a frequent stop for many cruise ships, particularly due to the diverse wildlife, in particular chinstrap penguins and many other species of birds. The walking path that runs through the island is also a good opportunity for people to go out and explore after a long journey on the Drake Passage.