Ten peculiar facts about Antarctica

Are you all geared up for the adventure of a lifetime to the icy southern continent? Or perhaps you are dreaming yourself onto a pioneering exploration of Antarctica, in the golden age of polar exploration?

Whether you're planning to visit Antarctica or not, these facts below are sure to fascinate.

1. The average summer temperature in Antarctica is -30°C while in the winter it is -60°C. The lowest recorded temperature is - 89.6°C. Salt water usually freezes at -2°C however Deep Lake on the continent is so salty that it cannot freeze.

2. The Dry Valleys of Antarctica are so moisture free that despite the cold, no ice or snow can form. The dusty expanses of dirt are close to the environment of Mars and so NASA did testing there for their Viking mission.

3. The ice sheet of Antarctica is up to 6km thick in places and holds 60% - 70% of the world's fresh water. If it was to melt, sea levels would rise approximately 65m the world over.

4. Despite the ice sheet, Antarctica is home to many fresh water lakes, buried deep underground. Lake Vostok is buried 4km under frozen water, one of more than 200 bodies of water discovered beneath the ice.

5. Antarctica is also home to one of the world's biggest mountain ranges, the Gamburtsev Mountains. Peaks here reach about 27,000m - that's about a third the size of Everest.

6. The most southern volcano in the world Mount Erebus, is surrounded by lava lakes which have held liquid magma for thousands of years despite the freezing temperatures.

7. The largest land animal of the continent is an insect. The wingless midge is less than 13mm long and lives around penguin colonies. There are no flying insects on the continent - with winds up to 320km p/h they would not survive!

8. Antarctica is one of the best places to find meteorites. The dark meteorites show up clearly against the white ice and snow. In fact, ice floes often encourage meteorites to gather in one place.

9. The geographic South Pole hasn't always been on Antarctica because of continental drift. Each year on New Year's Day there is a ceremony where the geographic South Pole is repositioned to compensate for  the 10m shift per year of the polar ice sheet towards the Weddell Sea.

10. There are 30 countries that man 80 research stations on the continent and in the summer there are about 4,000 people living there while in winter there are 1,000 people. In January 1979, Emile Marco Palma was the first person born on the continent and only ten other people have been born there since.

Explore Antarctica with Bentours on one of our fascinating expedition cruises - contact us today!