Should we travel to Antarctica at the time of global warming?

At a time of global warming, melting ice and threats of mass tourism, should we travel to Antarctica? I obviously do not have a definitive answer, but I think it is essential to ask the question before leaving.
When I left for the South Pole in 2013, I had just started traveling and I was not very aware of environmental or environmental issues and I never really asked myself. The company Quark Expeditions guaranteed us a trip to the environmental, applied the Treaty limiting measures on Antarctica and taking steps on board to protect the environment and wildlife of the continent. To know that tourism was limited, all the more because of the prohibitive prices and that measures were implemented, was enough for me. Today, with hindsight, I ask myself many questions and even if my dream is to return to Antarctica very soon, I do not know if I could do it under the same conditions.

Antarctica is the last frontier, the most unspoiled place on the planet, the last place where man has not yet begun to destroy everything. Apart from the scientists who reside there for a given period and the fauna, there are no inhabitants and the continent is protected by an International Treaty signed in 1959 to preserve the peace, also ratifying that nuclear tests would be prohibited. Illegal or legal and regulated fishing, exploitation of mineral resources for science or offshore, tourism … commercial activities already have their place on the white continent and are not always easy to control because of the size of the continent and harsh conditions of this environment. Tourism is not new in Antarctica and after a peak of 46,000 visitors in 2007-2008, new rules have brought down figures around 30,000 visitors a year making tourism in Antarctica (about 20,000 disembarking) . However, since 2016, tourism is constantly increasing, bringing the number of visitors around 44,000.

PREPARING A TRIP TO ANTARCTICA: THE COMPLETE PRACTICAL GUIDE TO TRAVELING ON THE WHITE CONTINENT

hese days, when I am asked what is my favorite country, I often answer Argentina , so as not to face too many questions. After all, this is not really a lie and even if it is difficult for me to answer this question, Argentina is actually my favorite country, in the strict sense of the word “country”, because it is one of the countries that I know best and has touched me the most. But deep in me, I still think about this trip to Antarctica, this unique and exceptional trip to the ends of the world. Antarctic haunts me, four years later. I left a piece of me there. As small pieces of my being walk freely in Patagonia, a piece of my soul remained there, on an iceberg, to contemplate the horizon. My heart tightens when I think about it, tears come to my eyes, memories break and I can not control the flow of emotions that seizes me.
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When a friend, an acquaintance, a stranger announces his next departure for Antarctica, I am piqued with jealousy. When a friend announces to me that she will live there for several months, I am ready to drop everything and apply for me to take care of the Antarctic Post.. When I look at my photos, when I reread the Antarctic trip story that I wrote four years ago, I’m ready to book the first plane ticket to the end of the world, for Ushuaia, to find the first boat on the departure. The nomad in me is already sedentary, where it is impossible precisely and everything is finally explained. Antarctica, the last frontier, the last continent, where the nomads imagine adventures worthy of explorers, a life that no one has, an immaculate land, wild, unknown, an unreachable dream. The chilly girl that I am laughing softly, because the most beautiful landscapes are for me those of ice and snow.

From Bariloche to Ushuaia hitchhiking

This is the challenge we had spent three weeks with my friend Sarah and we managed it much easier than expected. Here I describe my itinerary to give you some ideas of course, etc.

Bariloche : It is perfectly normal to hitchhike in Bariloche, especially in season when buses do not work. Get out the thumb and have a car that stops in a second, get picked up by our server the day before or be turned away by 15 Israeli … yes, yes, all this happens in Bariloche!

Bariloche-Lago Correntoso : We wanted to go to the 7 lakes and that was our only failure. After trying in vain to go north to San Martin, we decided to go back south because Sarah did not have much time. Three hours of waiting north in full sun and three hours of waiting to the south to finally return to Bariloche after a night of camping.

Bariloche-El Bolson : We left late and did a little bit of road after having waited a lot in Bariloche in the rain.

El-Bolson-Esquel : Very little waiting and two Chilean drivers later and we arrived at Esquel.

Esquel-Pico Truncado : We let fate do that day because we did not know which route to take and whether we would try Highway 40 or not. Finally, we found a car going to Pico Truncado, where I had found a Couchsurfer. A very friendly driver, hundreds of miles and lots of mate later, we arrived safely.

Pico Truncado-El Calafate : A big day, little wait again and three cars later, we arrive at El Calafate in the Couchsurfing of happiness where we will spend in all a week.

El Calafate-Glacier Perito Moreno : The shortest distances are sometimes the most complicated. Two Americans who were going in another direction and who thought that we were hitchhiking with a street dog, a family who decided to stop to do an asado at 11am and a nice couple later we were at the glacier! It took us an hour to return to town, with our famous asado family!

El Calafate-El Chalten: No excuses this time, in such tourist areas, it is better to start very early (around 6am) to be the first ones in the hitchhiker, to arrive at El Chalten early and not to struggle with find a hostel. The advantage in Patagonia in the summer is that it can be light from 5am to 11pm and can therefore make the day very easy! Once again, we are lucky and are recovered by a Bolivian, then two adorable Argentineans (also members of Couchsurfing). With them, we do the tourists, we sleep at the same hostel and we ask them if they can take us back to Calafate a few days later, because the hitchhikers in El Chalten scared us! And it’s a yes! We will also go for a little sightseeing with them in El Calafate! Our favorite drivers!

El Calafate-Ushuaia : Yes, yes, we did this in one day. Alice, a friend on a veterinary mission, took us to Rio Gallegos. We then found a car to Rio Grande, which took us across the two borders and took the ferry. Very very easy all that. A truck later and we arrived at Ushuaia by a beautiful road. From 6am to 10pm, it’s a hell of a day, but it’s feasible!

Ushuaia : We hitchhiked to all the tourist places in Ushuaia. I admit that I am no longer motivated to pay for expensive tourist buses, while it is so easy to hitchhike.

Hitchhiking in Argentina: the basics

Make a sign or not?

We met a lot of hitchhikers with a sign of their destination and we found it rather unoriginal. There are not many roads in Argentina and if a car passes, it is probably going in your direction. We opted for nicer and more attractive signs and we had excellent feedback and great sympathy. Several people stopped only because we had these signs, so do not underestimate them: “Al fin del Mundo” and “Recorriendo Argentina desde Francia y Allemania”

Hablas espanol?

If you do not speak a minimum of Spanish, I want to say, do not stop. People stop for the company and chat a little during the long hours of travel. If you can not trade a minimum, people will not necessarily be happy. Several drivers told us about some travelers who did not speak a word in a negative way. For politeness and safety, do not fall asleep, do not listen to music, we help you, so be nice!

Which road to take?

You have the choice between Route 3 and Route 40. Both are feasible, but it takes more time, patience and definitely a tent for the 40 which is very desert and very deserted. On Route 3, you can travel 1000 km a day very easily.

And security in all this?

Two girls hitchhiking in Argentina can be scary. Yet, girls have a lot more facilities. Do not be put off, you will see the experience is great and with common sense and instinct, there should not be any problems. Of course, to each and every one of you to evaluate the risks that you are ready to take. I did not feel at risk once in Argentina, nor uncomfortable. Most of the time, we were taken by families, young people or couples, very nice people who wanted to talk, help and exchange cultures. We made friends, some offered us food or shelter, others their friends’ contacts, a little mate … A trucker told me that I felt good while Sarah slept and I got her repacked quickly. Stories I’ve heard, there are not really any threats, though sometimes indecent proposals in exchange for a while. We say no, we get out of the car and it stops there in general. I confess that sometimes I put in the conversation my black belt of karate or my imaginary boyfriend just to set limits. We are still in South America …

CROSS ARGENTINA PATAGONIA BY HITCHHIKING

If I had been told that I would hitchhike in Argentina , I would have laughed. Two girls who hitchhike in South America, it’s not a bit of suicide? And yet, a month on the roads later, I am convinced that this is one of my best travels and that I have not frankly been more in danger than by traveling through some American city centers at night or taking the bus to China. That said, I’m not yet ready to go solo on the roads of Brazil for example, but I have evolved a lot, I learned a lot and I forgot a lot of prejudices that I had on hitchhiking. When and if I take the bus these days, I often say that I will have done better to hitchhike. It’s so simple, fast and exciting.

I am not an expert in hitchhiking, but I hope that my feedback will help you in planning your trip. If you have any questions, as always, do not hesitate to contact me and I will be happy to answer them.

What to take to hitchhike in Argentina?

If you plan to cross Patagonia by hitchhiking or other desert regions of Argentina , it is better to be prepared for this adventure. Water supplies, food, a tent, a warm sleeping bag, clothes for the cold and hot weather, what to have fun during the hours of waiting along the road, a Swiss army knife, a road map, a phone with an Argentinian Sim card, a camera, a Mate set and you’re ready! Above all, do not forget the water, the food, the tent and the warm clothes if you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere.