At just 600 miles away, which continent is closest to Antarctica?
And the answer: South America.
The Antarctic Peninsula juts out into the South Atlantic Ocean, towards the southern tip of South America. For this reason, many expeditions to Antarctica begin in Argentina and Chile, as the boat or plane ride towards Antarctica is shortest from that point.
To reach Antarctica from South America, however, there is a dangerous stretch known to ward away even the most experienced of travelers. Known as the Drake Passage, this 600-mile waterway marks the convergence of the Atlantic, Pacific and Southern Seas. While this region is not only far removed from any landmass (making room for intense wave patterns), it defines the transition from cool, humid conditions of Tierra del Fuego to the icy, polar Antarctic weather. As a result, the waters are often some of the most rugged on the planet.
While to embark on a mission to Antarctica via boat is often to gamble your chances on a “Drake Lake” or “Drake Shake”, there is another (nearly equally as unsavory) method of travel: precarious flying over unpredictable Antarctic winds. Landing on a runway of blue ice on the center of the continent, however, isn’t much of a leap from angry, icy waters. This hostile environment requires the most dedicated of hearts (and stomachs).
But seafarers don’t brave these waters for just anything. The great expanse of Antarctic ice and snow is among some of the most miraculous in the world. Home to around 90% of the planet's freshwater ice and around 70% of the total freshwater on Earth, Antarctica is a tundra of pristine beauty and resource that continues to nourish our planet’s life each and every day. Experience a taste of the world’s fifth-largest continent below.