The white, vast wilderness of Antarctica is beyond compare. Few will ever delve into its icy grandeur - with shelves and mountain ranges which evoke humanity's relative insignificance in comparison with the far reaches of our natural world. Traveling to Antarctica is an experience of a lifetime. Most 2012 Antarctica Cruises pass through the Falkland Islands while en route to the Southern Ocean, through stretches of low-pressure systems which circle unimpeded, gaining speed, in a clockwise direction.
Unlike other destinations, the wildlife in Antarctica is strikingly unafraid of people. This is because it is the only continent on the planet to have never had any human inhabitants, excepting the temporary presence of scientists, researchers and more recently, eco-tourists. People are not viewed as predators by seals and penguins, which permits visitors a rare opportunity to witness animals focusing on foraging and tending to their young. While the animals are disinterested in visitors, travelers have the opposite experience: they are fascinated by the rare glimpse into the habits of other members of the animal kingdom.
Antarctica's governance is by international treaty, signed by 46 nations, each of which has agreed on the paramount importance of keeping Antarctica free, peaceful, demilitarized, undeveloped and open to all for scientific exploration. The treaty's signatories recognize Antarctica's unique place on the planet: it is too precious to be claimed by a single country. This frozen landmass reflects progress and international cooperation like nowhere else in the world.
The protection of Antarctica's natural environment is its most pressing issue. While Antarctica is relatively isolated from human industry, the effect of pollution many miles away has been documented. Plastic and other debris increasingly washes ashore Antarctica's beaches. Pesticide residue has been detected in both penguin tissues and seabird guano. And it only takes a month for lead particles, released from gasoline combustion engines in South America or New Zealand, to reach Antarctica's surface. Finally, global warming and ozone depletion pose special threats to the integrity of Antarctica's ecology.
While certain effects of pollution have been observed, Antarctica is perhaps the last unspoiled landmass on earth. A journey here is a journey to the end of the earth. Those who take Antarctica tours are enchanted by Antarctica's tranquil, stark and intimidating landscape, leaving them with a lasting impression of the enormity of nature.
About the Author:
Adventurous Andrea Mansfield is a dauntless travel writer. Her multiple journeys on Antarctica tours have inspired her to enthusiastically champion 2012 Antarctica Cruises.
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