MESSAGE Antarctica *Videos*

Antarctica is more than 5 million miles in size (larger than the U.S. and Mexico combined), and has a ton of natural resources, including copper, nickel, iron, gold, silver, titanium, lead, coal and oil.

This natural abundance, as well as its strategic position, has lead to numerous countries laying claim to the continent: Australia, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Norway, France, and the UK.

To help mediate between these competing claims, 50 countries have signed The Antarctic Treaty, which establishes Antarctica as an international territory reserved for scientific research. The Treaty also explicitly bans any military activity. The Treaty came into effect in 1961 and has been renewed several times to remain in force.

After my jaunt to the coldest continent, I understand completely why nation states are elbowing each other for rights to the territory. Here’re my 7 insider tips on having a good time in Antarctica:

MEET (Cool Meet Ups) – Polar Bear Bar. One of the many places to hang out on our ship the M/S Expedition was the Polar Bear Bar. Some friends and I sauntered up one night to check out the festivities and because we heard that the piece of perfectly clear ice we found earlier that day had been turned into a “luge,” (a sculpted drinking device).

Here I am, sampling my drink of choice – a White Russian:

Can’t see the video? Click on this link: Erin & the Luge

EAT (Tasty Eats) – Mackinlay’s Shackelton Whiskey. This is one of the coolest gifts I have ever seen! The Shackelton-led British Antarctic Expedition of 1907 ordered 25 cases of scotch whiskey to help sustain them over 2-year “Nimod” expedition. Of this original bounty, 2 bottles were later found and preserved.

The new whiskey recipe was based on the 2 remaining bottles and called “Enduring Spirit,” in honor of the Shackelton ship during his 1914 South Pole expedition.

Interested in ordering a bottle? It costs about $150. You can find it on the web site: (The site also hosts a neat 5-minute video on the origins of whiskey.)

SEE (Must-see Sights) – Life in the Freezer. Our expedition ship showed movies every night and one of my favorites was Life in the Freezer, a collaboration between National Geographic and the BBC.

The filming took 3 years and included a 20-member crew. This 6-part documentary, narrated by David Attenborough, focuses on the seasons of Antarctica.

If you get a chance, I highly recommend you rent or download the series. The photography is stunning, especially the underwater diving footage. Here’s a preview:

Can’t see the video? Click on this link: Life in the Freezer

SHOP (Gotta Have) – Stories from the South Pole. While Norwegian Roald Amundsen was the first man to reach the South Pole in 1911, the most famous Antarctica explorers are Robert Falcon Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton. Here’re two books that highlight their extraordinary adventures:

  1. The Worst Journey in the World. Author Apsley Cherry-Garrrad, one of the adventurers on the ill-fated Scott expedition of 1922, writes about the failed attempted to be the expedition to reach the South Pole. At age 24, Cherry-Garrrad was the youngest of the 33-member exploration.
  2.  Endurance: An Epic of Polar Adventure. F.A. Worsley was the Captain of the HMS Endurance, Shackleton’s ship that set out to find the Scott party. First published in 1931, the book relays the trials of Shackleton’s 1914-1916 expedition after the ship struck ice and sank. Worsley narrates how all 25-members of the expedition miraculously survived 2 winters in the Antarctic.


ACTIVITY (Gotta Do) – Kayaking! One of the activities offered by our expedition, unfortunately the sea kayaking option was sold out by the time I had signed up for the tour. At $750, the price to kayak was extreme and the activity itself was considerably hard core.

But despite (or because of) the intensity of the experience, all the kayakers said the high price was worth it. The kayakers got to go out at nearly every landing and see the beautiful snow and ice from a different angle. I would love to do it and will next time I visit Antarctica!

GIVE (Greatest Need) – South Georgia Heritage Project. Our expedition ship raised money to help support rat eradication on the island of South Georgia. The rats, an introduced species, are raiding the bird nests around the island, threatening the island’s 31 bird species and forcing several toward extinction.

For more information or to make a donation, visit the South Georgia Heritage Trust web site. Your donation will go to support Phase 2 of the project, which will help clear more than 1,000 kilometers of land from the invasive rats and restore more than 100 million breeding birds to the island.

U.S donors can make a tax-deductible donation through the organization’s U.S-based fiscal sponsor.  UK supporters can make a donation via direct debit. Don’t forget to Gift Aid your donation.

ENJOY (Extra Fun) – Polar Plunge. This little bit of fun was chronicled in last week’s Polar Plunge article. In order for me to post this rather humiliating video, we needed 20 “Show me the Plunge” comments. At last count, we still need 7 more comments for a public posting! This challenge will remain open until January 7. Comment today! “Show me the Plunge”

Interested in reading more MESSAGEs? Check out:

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This entry was posted on Sunday, December 30th, 2012 and is filed under South America.

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