The Antarctic tourism season is just getting underway and travellers the world over are preparing to make the journey to the bottom of the planet where they'll be treated to one of the most remote and untouched destinations on Earth.
The vast majority of those travellers will book their visit with a travel company and will end up cruising the Southern Ocean aboard a ship that is specially designed to safely navigate those waters.
But some of the more adventurous travellers will actually make an independent journey to Antarctica, electing to sail aboard their own private yachts. To help those sailors, the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) has released a set of guidelines and requirements for those travelling off Antarctica aboard a sailing or motorized vessel that carries 12 or fewer passengers.
Those guidelines are designed to not only help keep travellers to the region safe, but also protect the fragile Antarctic environment as well.
Amongst the resources made available for independent travellers sailing below 60ºS are information on the permits and legislative requirements from various countries of origin, as well as guidelines for anticipating some of the potential risks for travelling in the area.
The IAATO also spells out etiquette for contact with indigenous wildlife, as well as encounters with other ships, both private and commercial. These resources and much more can be found at IATTO.org//yachts
The IAATO is an organization that works with its members to promote safe and environmentally friendly travel to Antarctica. Over the past couple of years there have been several high profile incidents in the region, but the IAATO has made some positive recommendations to help its members to avoid future issues while keeping clients safe and preventing environmental disasters.
As a result, there are fewer vessels travelling the Antarctic waters and the region is safer to visit than it has been in some time.
For adventure travellers, Antarctica often represents their ultimate destination. Whether they travel their on a commercial tour or as an independent sailor, the IAATO is dedicated to helping them realize their dreams of seeing that place in a safe and responsible manner.