Vastly unexplored, vastly untouched, and vastly unseen, is our world's largest desert, Antarctica.
That's right, largest DESERT.
Antarctica actually only receives an average of 2 inches of precipitation, mainly snow, each year. That's less rainfall than the world's third largest desert, the Sahara desert, receives. As a matter of fact, some parts of Antarctica have had no rain or snow for over 2 million years! Fire is actually the greatest danger on this continent, due to the excessively dry conditions.
Despite this fact, Antarctica still contains 90% of the world's freshwater source. This continent also stays completely light during the summer, completely dark during the winter, has no time zone, and contains an active volcano (Mount Erebus) that ejects out ice crystals. The list of amazing facts about this massive ice mass at the bottom of our world could go on and on, but what we are most concerned about is TRAVEL to Antarctica.
Who hasn't dreamt of seeing the South Pole and demystifying this massive winter wonderland for themselves?
Well, now that dream can come true, as commercial flights are officially possible (starting in 2108) from Argentina!
For the first time in history, citizens can fly from Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego to Marambio on Seymour Island, right at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Marambio is Argentina's scientific and research base in Antarctica, managed by the Argentine Air Force. The Marambio strip has a fully equipped radar station and now accepts 1 to 2 commercial flights a week. The flights take 1.5 hours in the turboprop planes used.
Once on land, the Minister of Defence Secretary says that 10% of accommodations found at the base will be available to tourists, allowing them a semi-comfortable, but true to the environment stay.
Currently, there is an average of about 40,000 visitors to the continent per year, but as more people are traveling and desiring a look at the unknown, that number is expected to shoot up. Travel to Antarctica isn't a new concept, though.
In 1966 the first citizen expedition to the continent took place, with several slowly adding up afterward, all transport done by ship. Cruises have been frequenting the land and ice mass for quite some years now.
In December of 2017, the first Chinese commercial flight to Antarctica was completed, taking 22 passengers to explore what many in China considered to be a 'tourism dreamland'. There is much talk of making travel to this continent an eco-adventure, aiming to raise awareness of climate change and natural environment issues in general.
In April 2018 a local St. Paul man visited via a cruise on the MV Ushuaia Ship through the Drake Passage. He and 88 other passengers from 21 different countries learned quite a bit about current and future travels to Antarctica, all of which you can read here.