A "stunning, but fragile" place, Antarctica offers those hardy enough to travel to it a seemingly endless bounty of "super-spectacular scenery and wildlife." Though increasingly visited by cruise ships in the summer, most tour operators seem to understand sustainability principles. Global warming remains an ever-present threat, however.
Here is a representative sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists. They are not necessarily the views of the National Geographic Society:
"Still not spoiled despite increasing tourism, due to strict landing policies and codes of conduct being respected. A great experience of clean, super-spectacular scenery and wildlife! Potential threat is the ever-higher number of ships visiting."
"The scientific bases are eyesores but easily avoided. That minor negative fades away against the unparalleled beauty of Antarctica. The opportunity to see natural settings and unusual wildlife remains unique.”
"Fragile environment. Tour operators seem to understand the importance of minimizing impact. Global warming and further development could cause problems, however."
"Garbage pollution is managed fairly well by the tour operators, but incidental contamination (boat contaminants and noise pollution, for example) is always present. Sustainability could be at risk in long term."
2014 Traveler Photo Contest
See all the winning images from the 2014 Traveler Photo Contest.