The coldest, driest, and windiest continent on Earth is a place of mystery. Dive into a world of white with these secrets from its wild landscapes.

1. Nobody’s home, officially: It’s impossible to gain Antarctican citizenship – even for the eleven babies who have been born on the region’s soil. On this protected patch, military activity, mineral mining, nuclear testing, and nuclear waste disposal are also legally banned. All this makes Antarctica a unique, shared space in the world, dedicated to peace and science.

2. You can send a letter home: The UK’s southernmost post office in the natural harbour of Port Lockroy has an adorable mascot – a gentoo penguin. When the British government advertised for staff to run this place on Goudier Island (which doubles as a museum) they reportedly had 6,000 applicants. But, even if you’re not tempted to stay, sending a postcard home stamped with an Antarctic postmark makes for the ultimate souvenir – like a chilly kiss from the end of the world.

3. It has frosty fairways: Fancy a spot of golf? You can don your warmest gear to take a swing at the world’s southernmost golf course. It’s a rough-and-ready setup at New Zealand’s Scott Base Station, where the greens are white and the bunkers are ice. If you want to join in, they hold a slightly tongue-in-cheek “Ross Island Masters International Invitational”.

4. There are red waterfalls: In the pristine whiteness of Antarctica, the Taylor Glacier hosts a startling feature – the Blood Falls. This eerily beautiful natural wonder is an outflow of iron-rich, saltwater brine that oxidises upon contact with air, creating a vivid red waterfall against the icy backdrop. First discovered in 1911, this geological marvel has fascinated and baffled scientists for over a century.

5. Metallica rocked out here: In 2013, the rock band played Antarctica’s first ever gig by a professional band, to a group of ten concert winners at Argentina’s Antarctic Research Station. The acoustic set was streamed to thousands of fans all over the world and is available to watch on Youtube.

6. You can race against the cold: Hardy runners battle freezing temperatures, wind and snow during December’s Antarctic Ice Marathon. Previous competitors have even trained on treadmills in freezers to ready themselves for the unique conditions. The fastest time ever recorded for completing the course was set by William Hafferty  of the USA, who managed a mere 3:34:12 back in 2019. 

7. Time stands still: Ever wondered what time it is in Antarctica? It’s a trickier question that you’d think, given that Antarctica straddles every line of longitude and, for so much of the year, is swathed in either endless daylight or endless dark. Because of this, most research stations tend to set their clocks by whichever country they belong to. 

8. There’s an active volcano: Mount Erebus last erupted in 2020 and a lava lake continuously bubbles at its summit. It’s a fiery heart in a frosty body, offering a rare sight of bubbling molten rock surrounded by ice and snow.

9. Wildlife abounds: Spot seals, a myriad of penguin species, and a variety of birds in The Antarctic Specially Protected Areas (ASPA), which teeming with rare species including the Amsterdam Albatross. The predatory, formidable South Polar Skua and delicate, all-white Snow Petrels are also worth looking out for.

10. It’s a glimpse into our ancient past: The “Lost Meteorites of Antarctica” are the remnants of our universe’s distant history and these iron-rich meteorites contain deep secrets about the origins and evolution of our solar system. Though around hundred have been found, scientists believe that many more are trapped beneath the ice and expeditions to discover these lost wonders are ongoing.

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