Visitor Guidelines for the Antarctic

People and penguinsClick to enlarge
To avoid unnecessary stress for animals, minimum distances are to be kept any time.

Sicherheitsabstand Mensch zu Pinguin in der Antarktis

Source: Fritz Hertel/UBA

Antarctica is not only a very sensitive ecosystem, it is also a hostile environment for humans. Compliance with the visitor guidelines ensures protection of the flora and fauna as well as the visitors to Antarctica themselves.

Appropriate behaviour in the Antarctic

Back in 1994 the Consultative Parties to the Antarctic Treaty drafted a universally valid recommendation on the protection of the Antarctic flora and fauna (Recommendation XVIII-1). The German Environment Agency has compiled a guide for visitors to the Antarctic based on these recommendations. It contains useful advice and guidelines for proper behaviour and background information about the continent. The document aims to ensure that all visitors comply with the established regulations and recommendations regarding Antarctica.

Since 2005 the Parties to the Antarctic Treaty have been issuing specific Site Guidelines for Visitors in response to the permanent disturbances occurring at the main tourist landing areas. Guidelines for 37 sites now exist and determine - amongst other - when and where a site may be visited and how many ships and passengers may go ashore at a time. In addition, the ATCM adopted Resolution 3 (2011) (General Guidelines for Visitors to the Antarctic), which applies for all the landing sites in the Antarctic.

Practical details

Tourists to Antarctica should exercise caution in general and follow the instructions which their tour guide gives. This means to move slowly and quietly when in the vicinity of wildlife and to keep at certain minimum distances. Areas with vegetation should not be trod upon. Before the journey itself and after every trip ashore, clothing and equipment must be cleaned in order to prevent the introduction of non-native species to the Antarctic. It is also forbidden to leave any waste in the Antarctic environment or to leave graffiti or other markings on historical buildings, research stations or rocks.

Travellers are urged to keep their own safety in mind, to not stray from existing trails, keep a safe distance to wildlife and not to leave their visitor group.
For further details see the abovementioned guideline and the How to behave? Visitor Guidelines for the Antarctic flyer.

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