Antarctica is hotter than ever according to the latest figures released by the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators who recorded a 15 percent increase in visitors travelling to Antarctica with IAATO members throughout the 2016-17 season.
And for 2017-18, Antarctica visitation is projected to see a 5 percent increase to reach a peak of 46,385. The number of UK visitors increased by 19 per cent compared to the previous year, ranking them fifth on the list of passenger nationalities, behind the US, China, Australia and Germany.
According to Polar Specialist Chimu Adventures, there are many reason for Antarctic tourism growth, the most obvious being increased air capacity and misconceptions regarding accessibility and affordability.
Also contributing to the destination's growing appeal is the increased amount of unique experiences to be found on Antarctic waters.
“While Antarctica stays the indisputable bucket list icon of expedition cruising, travellers are no longer just lured by the destination's physical distinctiveness alone,” said Simon Evans, the UK Chimu Adventures manager.
“While first and foremost, travellers still take a trip to Antarctica for its obvious draw, such as its remoteness, exclusivity and spectacular wildlife, we are seeing that more and more travellers are opting for travel options that go beyond the 'ordinary' expedition cruise, looking for that additional spark of uniqueness, that wow factor that makes the trip extra unique,” he added.
As Chimu Adventures are preparing for this record breaking season, the company would like to assure travellers that they work under strict guidelines to ensure tourism impact on Antarctic wildlife and the environment is minimised at all times.
And according to Mr Evans, these are the top unique experiences for the 2017-18 Antarctic cruising season:
On the 28-day sail and ski adventure Ski Antarctica, get onto the pristine white slopes, seek virgin terrain and climb unique peaks and go sea kayaking amongst ice and penguins.
Camp on ice
As part of the 18-day Shackleton's Antarctica, adventurers will have a chance of camping on the ice, the ultimate off the beaten track adventure for many.
Visit East Antarctica
The 26-day In the Wake of Mawson expedition, retracing the footsteps of Sir Douglas Mawson, is a collaboration between Chimu and Mawson's Hut Foundation, giving guests exclusive access to the very rare tourist ships departing Hobart, Australia for East Antarctica.
Dive Antarctic waters
It may not be your obvious diving destination, but gliding through the amazing icy blue waters of the Antarctic is sure to impress with fascinating underwater encounters with Antarctic marine life. The 19-day Falkland Islands, South Georgia & Antarctic Peninsula includes a diving option.
Founded in 2004, Chimu Adventures offers fully flexible, guaranteed itineraries to Latin America, plus cruises to Antarctica and now the Arctic. Catering to clients of all ages, Chimu's philosophy is simple – they use specialised knowledge to work with clients, accommodating their individual needs at reasonable prices.
For more information visit www.chimuadventures.com
Fly to the US and Canada for £99
Low-cost Icelandic airline WOW air has announced the return of its ground-breaking £99 one way* fares to the US & Canada, to celebrate the airline's 5th anniversary in operation.
The fares from Bristol and Edinburgh to New York, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Montreal and Toronto, via Reykjavik, went on sale on 1 June.
Skúli Mogensen, CEO of WOW air, said: “We want to celebrate our anniversary and share our great success by offering the best prices ever seen.
"Our expanding network of US and Canadian destinations have a wealth of things to offer UK travellers and we want to ensure people have more to spend on experiencing the destination to the fullest by saving drastically on airfare.”
The £99 fares are expected to be popular so those seeking a last minute getaway are advised to book quickly to snap up the fares.
The flights from Reykjavik to the USA/Canada are operated using WOW air's fleet of new Airbus A321 and A330 aircraft. The airline's Airbus A320 family aircraft carry passengers from Bristol and Edinburgh to Reykjavik on the first leg of the journey.
For more information, or to book flights visit www.wowair.co.uk.