Quark Expeditions

Quark Expeditions

May 04, 2009 10:00 ET

Trip to Antarctica or a Trip to the Arctic?: Choosing Between Polar Opposites

NORWALK, CONNECTICUT--(Marketwire - May 4, 2009) -

Editors Note: There are two photos associated with this Press Release.

Novice polar travelers often believe that a trip to Antarctica is interchangeable with an Arctic cruise. Perhaps that is due to holiday cards and soft drink commercials that erroneously depict polar bears and penguins living together in harmony. The differences between the regions are more significant than merely their locations on the globe.

The Arctic is an ice-covered ocean surrounded by land. In contrast, Antarctica is a continent surrounded by an ocean. Humans have inhabited the Arctic for 4,000 years. Antarctica has never had an indigenous population and the first record of humans reaching it is only about 200 years old.

The biology of the regions is different. The natural habitat of polar bears, walrus and musk oxen is the Arctic. Walrus and musk oxen can be found in herds. Polar bears are essentially solitary creatures. Penguins are found in the wild south of the Equator. Surprisingly, only five of the 17 species of penguins are associated with Antarctica. Penguins breed in colonies that can have as few as a thousand inhabitants and as many as half a million. The abundance of wildlife in the Antarctic contrasts to the Arctic's greater diversity of species, but smaller numbers of animals.

When shown a photograph of ice, experienced ice masters, (mariners with special training in navigating through polar waters), can identify the polar region in which the photograph was taken. Although it is harder for laypeople, one difference that is readily noticed is that Arctic ice is often 'dirtier' than Antarctica ice. Icebergs are present in both regions, but if a traveler wants to see 'big' ice - the Antarctic is the place to go.

To decide which polar region to visit first set a budget, make list of the icon elements that define a polar adventure for you, and check available travel dates. Travel to the Arctic is possible between June and September. Travel to the Antarctic occurs between October and March. However, adventurers must have visited the Arctic and Antarctica to truly claim the title - polar adventurer.

About Quark Expeditions

Since 1991, Quark Expeditions has established a tradition of firsts in polar expedition travel. The company was the first to transit the Northeast Passage with commercial passengers; the first to take travelers to the "far side" of Antarctica and the first to circumnavigate the Antarctic continent with guests, twice. Quark is also recognized for its diverse passenger fleet; the largest in Antarctica - including the only polar-class icebreaker operating as an expedition ship there. The fleet enables Quark to operate the widest variety of polar itineraries of any other adventure company in the world, and the greatest number of departures to Antarctica. In October 2006 and 2007, Quark was named a recipient of National Geographic Traveler's "50 Tours of a Lifetime" for their "Emperor Penguin Safari" and the "Far Side" respectively. In the March 2006 edition, Outside magazine named the "Emperor Penguin Safari" as one of the New Trips of a Lifetime.

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