It’s almost three years since I went backpacking in Antarctica, and though I’ve written about 40 articles about it already, I haven’t yet done an actual “Top 5”. The main reason for this will be that I tend to write about each part separately, but also that every moment of the trip was a highlight and worthy of a “Top 5” position. However I’ve realised thanks to my post on eTramping recently that people are actually interested in visiting Antarctica so here’s a new post on it to fill you all in! These are my Top 5 moments from backpacking in Antarctica.
First up, here’s the two posts on how I backpacked my way to Antarctica and how you can book a cheap trip to Antarctica. Now for my top 5 moments. Antarctica is an incredible place, so a top 5 is harsh on those places omitted, but here goes…
1. The British Base, Port Lockroy, Wiencke Island
The British Base at Port Lockroy just had to make my top 5 for so many reasons. Firstly, being Northern Irish, I’m actually British myself and therefore the political, personal and sentimental aspect of it all. Seeing the union flag flying against a backdrop of snow, penguins and a milky white sky was just phenomenal. It was also slightly special just because our visit was on remembrance day – 11th November. So we had a minute’s silence for the fallen war heroes and deaths of yesteryear on a quiet, cold morning.
At Port Lockroy there are a few buildings, one of which is Bransfield House. Once the British Base, this is now a Museum. Inside there is a full gift shop, and even a post box and a room for writing your postcards. In essence this is the world’s southernmost Post Office. I was totally moved and inspired by it.
My full post on Port Lockroy is here: Port Lockroy Antarctica
2. Hiking up Cuverville Island
This was more than just a hike, and there were smiles all round as we docked off the coast of Cuverville Island. We boarded our Zodiacs and headed to land, at a remote and tranquil beach only penguins could make a home of. Staring up there was a “peak” which we would be walking through the tick snow up to.
It didn’t take too long to get to the top and it was quite an amazing walk. We walked in a zig zag pattern, led by John Kernan. On arrival at the top it was simply a feast for your eyes. The views down on a world of white and blue were nothing short of spectacular. We threw snowballs, dived in the snow and rolled our way back down.
My full post on Cuverville is here: Hound of the Cuverville
3. Landing on Mainland Antarctica at Neko Harbour
No trip to Antarctica would be complete without stepping on the actual mainland. As if the islands are fake, the real Antarctic moment for me came with my first step onto land at Neko Harbour.
You have to pinch yourself sometimes and yes we really did it. We really stepped on Mainland Antarctica – the same land mass as the South Pole.
A world of glaciers, never ending snow and beauty lay in front of us. Again we dived into the snow, walked on the beach and enjoyed the calm blizzard that made our visit slightly more typical and authentic. Neko Harbour will never be forgotten. It’s my favourite travel moment.
My full post on Neko Harbour is here – Neko Harbour Antarctica
4. Going Swimming at Whaler’s Bay in Deception Island
Deception Island has its glory moments and you will never forget this “C” shaped enigma of an island, which doubles up as an active volcano. We saw an airport hangar, an old whaling station and were almost blown away at Neptune’s Window. However the highlight of Deception Island was definitely going swimming at Whaler’s Bay. A hot Kahlua and cream plus an “I’ve swam in Antarctica” certificate awaited all those who braved the waters.
I went in with my Northern Ireland flag and shorts and got a bit cold and naked in the waters. I loved it.
My full post on Swimming is here – Naked in Antarctica
5. First landing at Barrientos, Aitcho Islands
While the above four moments were all unique and special, you could say the best moment was the actual arrival in Antarctica. My venue for my first ever footsteps onto this continent was a small island known as Barrientos. It belongs to the Aitcho Islands group.
The main attractions there are snow, penguins and seals. In fact I was blown away by it. Literally – a snowstorm welcomed my arrival on the world’s coldest continent and I loved it. A special memory.
My full post on Barrientos is here – One small step for Yer Man
If you want to see all my Antarctica posts, then head here: Backpacking in Antarctica.
I’ll leave you with my videos from these top 5 places when backpacking in Antarctica. If you haven’t been yet – get it on your list. I still frown at travellers who think travelling is a weekend a Paris, a month in Thailand or 2 weeks in New Zealand. Get out and see the real world folks! What are you waiting for? Don’t forget, I backpacked my way to Antarctica by working my ass off on farms, anyone can do it!
Backpacking in Antarctica: Port Lockroy
Backpacking in Antarctica: Cuverville
Backpacking in Antarctica: Neko Harbour
Backpacking in Antarctica: Polar Plunge at Whaler’s Bay
Backpacking in Antarctica: Barrientos