Last updated: 12:35 PM ET, Fri March 20 2015

Ice Cold Antarctica Seeing Red Hot Tourism Numbers

Destination & Tourism | Donald Wood | March 20, 2015

Ice Cold Antarctica Seeing Red Hot Tourism Numbers

There are endless tourist attractions in the world, but one continent getting an increasing amount of love from visitors and cruise ships is the frozen tundra of Antarctica.

According to Luis Andres Henao of the Associated Press, there has been an influx of nature lovers, adventurers and explorers who have flocked to Antarctica to get a feeling similar to the one discoverers experienced when they landed on the polar continent for the first time.

More than 37,000 tourists are expected to visit Antarctica between November and March when the land is accessible and less dangerous. That is a roughly 10 percent increase from last year’s numbers, according to Henao.

When asked about the allure of visiting a continent like Antarctica, United Kingdom-based travel agency Antarctica Bound’s expedition leader Steven Cowpe told the AP:

“It's definitely on many people's bucket list. You feel like you're at the end of the planet because it's so wild and when you come back, you feel like you have achieved something great, even if you're not an explorer.”

Antarctica is the coldest continent on earth and is roughly the size of the United States and Mexico combined. Despite the massive scale of the land mass, only about two percent is inhabitable (around 4,000 scientists are part-time residents.)

The main port on the continent is at the Antarctic Peninsula, which is accessible from South America. Another popular destination is at the Ross Sea, which is accessible from New Zealand and Australia.

As fun as entering relatively unchartered territories can be for tourists, the journey to Antarctica is also very dangerous and unpredictable. Passengers who arrive in Antarctica must be fully equipped with the proper gear to deal with the cold weather and the radiation from the sun.

Another major issue facing tourists is the unpredictable changes in the weather that can force them to stay on the continent for much longer than expect. With intense fog being a regular occurrence, airplanes and ships are regularly delayed by Mother Nature.

High costs are another obstacle some travelers must overcome, but the experience of walking on a land mass that few humans ever have—or likely ever will—is something that will interest the most adventurous travelers.

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