5 explorers that taught us about Antarctica

Key to your appreciation of any of our Antarctic adventure cruises is an attendant appreciation of the mammoth feats of those who came before you. By that, we are referring to the bold, tough and determined explorers whose journeys to this most isolated of regions is why we are able to know so much today about this compelling wilderness and invite you to experience it yourself.

Here are five men who played monumental roles in the development of our modern-day understanding of the earth’s last great wilderness.

Captain James Cook

This Yorkshire-born explorer, navigator, cartographer and Royal Navy captain became the first person to circumnavigate Antarctica and crossed the Antarctic Circle three times in the 1770s. He was killed on 14th February 1779, aged 50, at Kealakekua Bay in Hawaii.

Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen

The cartographer and explorer led a circumnavigation expedition that discovered the Antarctic continent. This, however, only made him the second man to circumnavigate Antarctica, after Cook.

James Weddell

Achieving a new record south earned the British sailor and navigator the accolade of having the region of the Southern Ocean into which he sailed in the 1820s named after him – making it the Weddell Sea.

John Biscoe

In the early 1830s, the English mariner and explorer commanded the first expedition known to have sighted the areas along the Antarctic coast known as Enderby Land and Graham Land. A series of islands that his expedition found in the vicinity of Graham Land were named the Biscoe Islands in his honour.

Roald Amundsen

The Norwegian explorer led the first undisputed successful expedition to the South Pole in 1910-12, reaching the pole itself on 14th December 1911. His Antarctic expedition beat Robert Falcon Scott’s Terra Nova Expedition to the milestone by 33 days. In June 1928, he disappeared in the Arctic while involved in a rescue mission by plane.

These are far from the only names to be associated with the most momentous exploratory feats in and around the Antarctic, with other names that could have been added including Palmer and Powell, D’Urville, De Gerlache and Shackleton.

Nonetheless, even this list goes some way to indicating just how much blood, sweat and tears went into discovering the things about the Antarctic region that we now almost take for granted. These individuals’ towering achievements are worth remembering as you follow in their footsteps on one of our own Antarctic adventure cruises.

Why should you experience one of our Arctic cruises to Alaska?

As a customer of one of our Arctic cruises here at WILDFOOT, you will doubtless discover much of what makes this remotest of regions so great – from stunning snow-capped landscapes to an enchanting range of flora and fauna. But of course, it isn’t just the Arctic mainland that has the capacity to fascinate – as our Arctic cruises to Alaska abundantly demonstrate.

What might you already know about Alaska, especially if you do not live in the United States? You may associate it with Sarah Palin, the former Governor of Alaska and running mate of 2008 Presidential candidate John McCain, or you may simply consider it a largely unpopulated wintry wilderness. There is definite truth to the former and at least a semblance of truth to the latter, but there’s so much more about Alaska that captures the visitor’s imagination.

The figures certainly show that Alaska lives up to its reputation as a wilderness. While it is geographically more than twice the size of Texas and indeed, larger than the 22 smallest US states combined, only just over 730,000 people live here according to 2014 estimates, with half of them residents of the biggest city, Anchorage. Another indication of just how untamed Alaska remains by many of the trappings of human civilisation is the fact that only 20% of it is accessible by road – indeed, it has a mere 12 numbered highways.

It’s on appreciating these figures that you soon come to realise that Alaska in many ways bridges the gap between the rest of urbanised North America and the truly unbridled natural terrain that is the wider Arctic. The lack of people in Alaska is compensated for by wildlife like the bald eagle and Kodiak Brown Bear, not to mention the moose that can be spotted even in Anchorage.

Alaska’s natural majesty in its own right is only further enhanced by breathtaking mountains and glaciers – the state being home to North America’s highest peak, the 20,320 feet Mt. McKinley, which is just one of 17 Alaskan mountains that feature among the entire continent’s 20 tallest mountains. The glaciers here, too, are monumental, with more than 100,000 of them to be found within the Alaskan boundary.

To experience this meeting point of natural and manmade awe for yourself, simply enquire about the acclaimed Arctic cruises to Alaska that we so proudly offer right here at WILDFOOT.

5 things you didn’t know about Greenland

The largest island in the world but also the least densely populated, Greenland is a country that remains largely undiscovered by many. In common with other areas in and around the Arctic, the country offers much for those interested in the most stunning natural scenery, but it also has so much more to interest the intrepid traveller.

Below, we list five things that you might not be aware of about this northernmost of destinations.

  1. It has a rich history of inhabitation

Greenland may have a reputation for being somewhat remote, but its history of known inhabitation stretches back some 4,500 years, with some of the earliest residents including migrants from what is now Canada.

The then-uninhabited southern part of the country was settled by Norsemen from the 10th century, with Inuit peoples arriving in the 13th century.

  1. The country supports a wide range of flora…

From the carpet of mosses and low-lying shrubs that characterises the ground in northern Greenland, to such abundant plants in the south of the country as the dwarf birch and willow, there is no question about the richness of Greenland’s plant life.

  1. …and fauna

Greenland is home to large land mammals like the musk ox, polar bear, white Arctic wolf and reindeer, with other mammals including the collared lemming, Arctic fox and Arctic hare.

Visitors can also encounter marine mammals such as the hooded seal and grey seal, birds like the raven and snowy owl and fish including cod, halibut and caplin – many of these also being important to the economy.

  1. Greenland is a constitutional monarchy

Head of state in Greenland since 1972 is Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, who officially wields executive power and presides over the Council of State (privacy council).

However, the country now operates under a parliamentary system of government, the monarch’s duties having consequently become strictly representational and ceremonial.

  1. It is best explored on an Arctic cruise

Such is the sparsely-populated nature of the country and its still relatively undeveloped infrastructure, Greenland may be best discovered via one of our complete Arctic cruises here at WILDFOOT.

We offer comprehensive and well-priced packages for various areas of Greenland, in accordance with your own budgetary and practical requirements. Enquire now about the best Arctic cruises to Greenland!

Antarctic holidays that really unlock this remarkable region

Antarctica may have a reputation as something of a remote region – and indeed that is part of its fascinating appeal to many – but here at WILDFOOT we take great pride in making it accessible to a wide range of intrepid travellers. Antarctic holidays simply come no better than ours, thanks to our combination of unrivalled local expertise, competitively-priced packages and a commitment to fulfilling your most specific needs for an Antarctica break.

As the Antarctica region becomes progressively more reachable for more and more travellers, here at WILDFOOT, we do everything possible to give you the true trip of a lifetime to this endlessly stimulating part of the world. Nowhere else could you expect to encounter such intriguing and often thrilling wildlife, for example, searching for Emperor Penguins in and around the Weddell Sea, and walking amongst thousands of King Penguins in South Georgia along with Gentoo, Macaroni, Adelie and Chinstrap penguins around other parts of the peninsula.

Other wildlife must-sees on your Antarctic holidays include albatross, petrels, whales and dolphins – but it isn’t merely the ‘local residents’ that will take your breath away on a break to the polar region. That’s because the region also serves up the most spectacular scenery, composed of mammoth glaciers and towering mountains, as well as huge icebergs and even spring meadows and grassland, depending on whether you centre your trip on the Antarctic mainland or such nearby islands as South Georgia and the Falklands. You can even view wildlife and encounter icebergs from on board zodiacs – a truly up-close experience.

While the inhospitality of Antarctica has not lent itself to the development of a native culture, there is nonetheless much to be found on the Falklands and Tristan da Cunha, where the descendants of 19th and 20th century settlers work the land and exploit the sea to live. Our Antarctic holidays also present you with the opportunity to head pole-wards in the footsteps of legendary explorers like Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen – even making a poignant visit to Shackleton’s grave.

However, don’t forget that with WILDFOOT your Antarctic adventure will also be an exceptionally comfortable one, for as long as you are onboard one of our luxury ships with their spacious cabins, five-star service and on-board cuisine, your comfort and enjoyment is the priority. At the same time, we ensure the best possible value for money on your trip through our close work with the finest expedition operators. We offer expeditions on all standards of ship, which opens up our experience to those travelling on all budgets.

Our dedication to every aspect of your Antarctic holidays should make us your first choice when you seek to journey to this most remarkable end of the earth. Contact the friendly and professional team at WILDFOOT now for a more in-depth discussion of your options and to book your dream Antarctica break.