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The odd duck of volcanoes, Mount Erebus’s permanent lava lake reaches temperatures of 1,826 degrees Fahrenheit, but is situated in one of the coldest places on Earth. The southern-most active volcano and second-highest summit on Antarctica’s Ross Island (at 12,448 feet), this volcano has been active since 1972. Though its ironic location alone makes us scratch our heads, its ice towers (pictured above) are even more unbelievable. As gas escapes fissures on the sides of the mountain, the ice pack and snow on the surface begins to melt and hollow out. As the warm, wet air inside escapes into the cold air, it freezes and creates frozen crystals along the edges, building the towers to up to 60 feet tall. They occasionally topple over. Read more
Are you an adventurous, spur-of-the-moment traveler looking for a great deal? For a four-day period, Quark Expeditions is offering passengers who buy one of four cruises to Antarctica in November at regular price (beginning at $6,190) an additional ticket for a companion for only $1. If you’re cruising solo, rates for these upcoming trips are 50 percent off.
Cruises to Antarctica are notoriously expensive, so this is a great deal if you’re able to jet to Ushuaia, Argentina, where the cruise departs, in the next week or two. This 12-day polar cruise travels through the Drake Passage, Antarctic Peninsula, and South Shetland Islands and offers a slew of adventurous activities, like kayaking, camping, mountaineering, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. Passengers will spot a variety of penguins and seals while marveling at the “big ice.”
The sale begins today at 8:30am and ends on Thursday, November 10 at 8:00pm; departure dates include November 13 (two sailings), 19, and 29, 2011.
Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on flights, hotels, vacation packages, and more travel deals.
Upscale French cruise line Compagnie du Ponant is offering would-be cruisers to the Antarctic some sizable savings for select sailings this fall and winter. A notoriously expense cruising journey, Ponant offers a top-of-the-line experience to the White Continent aboard its luxurious yachts, and is now slashing rates by up to 20 percent on seven sailings between November 2011 and February 2012. Plus, they’ve extended the value even further by offering a $1,400 flight credit per cabin (or $700 per passenger), applicable towards airfare to the embarkation (and disembarkation) point in Ushuaia, Argentina.
While it might seem that the most prevalent adventure travel trend nowadays is wrestling your backpack into increasingly rare overhead bin space, there are plenty more appealing developments on the horizon. Here, a few trends of note for adventure travelers in 2011 and beyond.
Authentic experiences. “Experiential” travel is the buzzword that tour operators and outfitters are currently using to describe what true adventurers have been doing for decades: experiencing a destination like a local. The bad news about this trend: There are unprecedented numbers of travelers doing it (upping the chances that you’ll meet a fellow countryman, say, on a remote outback trail, which tends to be a bit disappointing when you’re after something truly unique). The good news: Operators and outfitters are developing trips based on authentic experiences, whether that means trekking with tribal nomads in the Sahara or learning to cook spaghetti Bolognese with a local chef in Bologna.
Traveling to the edge of the Earth can put a glacier-sized dent in your bank account, but Antarctica is one of the few places of pure solitude left on this planet, devoid of cell phone interruptions, car horns, and ? for the most part ? people. For some, this icy tundra is what dreams are made of, and the awe-inspiring scenery, seals, whales, and penguin colonies are well worth the lengthy travel time to reach an expedition vessel. During our summer (Antarctica’s winter), the sea is dangerous and nearly impossible to navigate (plus the twenty-four hours of darkness make wildlife viewing a bit tricky), so visitors travel to the region between November and March. To help cut costs, Adventure Life Cruises is marking down rates by 30 percent for its November 7 voyage, which now start at $4,830/person.
THE VALUE: Prices were originally $6,900/person for a total savings of $4,140/couple for this early-season cruise.
THE CATCH: You have to decide quickly – this offer expires on September 30, so you’ll have to have some cash laying around for the deposit.
THE DETAILS: Visit www.adventurelife.com.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Find great deals on flights with our Travel Search price comparison tool.
For more wildlife encounters, check out our Top 10 Whale Watching destinations.
Planning a fall getaway on a budget? Take a look at our Top 40 Spots for Fall Value.
As the travel industry increases its green initiatives, Antarctica may be joining the endangered destination list. When sailing to this region, new regulations are causing cruise lines to use cleaner – and more expensive – fuel compelling a number of companies to “86” future itineraries. Among the operators discontinuing these once-in-a-lifetime cruises are Voyages of Discovery, Saga, Swan Hellenic, and most recently Crystal Cruises.
Crystal’s 19-day holiday cruise setting sail from Buenos Aires this December will be the last Antarctic voyage for the Crystal Symphony. The ship’s “hulls” will be decked out for the occasion in over $100,000 of seasonal décor including giant toy soldiers and handcrafted ornaments. Prices for this “last call cruise” by no means reflect those of a going out of business sale- interior cabins start at whopping $8,995 per person, based on double occupancy.
For more information, visit www.crystalcruises.com.
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