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Lonely Planet Antarctica 4th Ed.: 4th Edition Paperback – Nov 1 2008

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Just looking at the hauntingly sculpted blues, vast horizon-touching Shelves, and towering behemoths of Antarctica's ice formations makes the traveler know why she wants to go there and why she needs a good guidebook. Lonely Planet has once again done its homework. In addition to a thorough and succinct history section, useful overviews of Antarctic tour companies, information about how to plan your trip, detailed maps, and interesting facts about the places you'll visit, this book includes a 32-page color wildlife guide that introduces you to Chinstrap penguins, elephant seals, and eight types of whales.

LP has sought out the experts on Antarctic issues to write about science, environmental, and exploration issues. Shaded boxes offer in-depth highlights about topics such as traveling by zodiac (the small inflatable boats used by tour companies--ideal for cruising among "bergy bits"), Antarctic fiction, glaciology, and icebergs: "The Antarctic ice sheet is the iceberg 'factory' of the Southern Ocean. The total volume of ice calved from the ice sheet each year is about 2300 cubic km, and it has been estimated that there are about 300,000 icebergs in the Southern Ocean at any one time."

This book offers sage advice and is not afraid of the stark and sometimes dangerous realities of traveling to such a harsh and foreboding land: "If you fall overboard, you will die. Although this may not be true in every single case, it is almost certain, for human survival in the -1.8°C water of the Southern Ocean is calculated in minutes. Since drowning is thought by some to be preferable to freezing to death, one bit of only half-cynical advice for those who fall overboard is to swim as hard as you can for the bottom." --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


As usual, the guidebook standard is set by Lonely Planet.

-- Outside (USA) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Little guidance for the prospective traveler Sept. 7 2010
By dickh - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book, while relatively well written with a good survey of the exploration history of the continent and much detail on the many parts of Antarctica where virtually no one goes, is almost totally useless as a travel guide.

The single, by far most important decision that a prospective traveler makes is to choose the type of ship and, within the type, which individual ship. According to IAATO there were some 38,000 visitors to Antarctica during the 2009/2010 season. Almost exactly half were passengers on large standard cruise ships that the big operators reposition to the Valparaiso (Chile) to Buenos Aires route during the Northern Hemisphere winter. As a little "bonus extra" these ships skirt Antarctica as they round the Horn and let their passengers view the continent between trips to the groaning buffet tables. Ships of more than 1000 passengers make no landings, while ships with between 400 and 1000 do sometime make a single landing of groups of 100 or less. The same is the case for ships of between 100 and 400 passengers which may venture to make a couple of landings.

The other half, some 19,000, opt for one of the "expedition travel" choices. The vast majority of these book a cruise on one of the roughly 20 ice strengthened ships that are able to navigate in Antarctic waters and, since they carry less than 100 passengers, can land passengers on the continent. As Mr. Rubin points out in the book, 80% of these travelers visit 30 different spots on the Antarctic Peninsula and half of these visit just 10 of the sites, and finally 30% visit only 5.

Therefore, while the 19 pages on the Antarctic Peninsula are useful, I question what value the other 200 pages on East Antarctica, Ross Sea, Weddell Sea, pre-Antarctic Islands and even South Georgia, the Falklands etc are since no more than a handful of tourists visit these locations.

But the real failure is that there is almost no information that could help prospective visitors choose with whom they will travel. There are obviously vast differences between the big cruise ships and the expedition ones. For the purpose of this discussion let's put aside passengers on the big cruise ships; they are at best accidental visitors to Antarctica. But there are also huge differences between the expedition ships. About half are Russian research vessels that are chartered out to large tour operators for the season. They are technically good ships but accommodations are often Spartan and onboard service frequently spotty. At the other end of the spectrum are the Lindblad ships and the Hapag-Lloyd ones which are super luxury and with price tags in accordance.

Then there are several ships in between, including the only two locally owned ships, the Chilean Antarctic Dream ( [...] ) and the Argentine Ushuaia ([...] ). Both offer typical cuisine of the two countries with notable examples of both countries wines. The Antarctic Dream is a bit more upscale while the Ushuaia is somewhat more for the backpacker set.

In short what this guide book lacks is guidance on the most important decision that an Antarctic traveler will make; how to get there.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Absolutely best and most complete travel guide to The Ice. Dec 21 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
If you plan a trip to The Ice, you will find this book invaluable. If you do not, you will find it fascinating, and it will make you want to go. In addition to all manner of practical advice for travelers, it is packed with thorough and interesting history of the continent, its wildlife, its geography, and also contains tempting suggestions for further non-fiction and fiction reading, films and videos, and even CD's. It is written with grace and humor, and contains really useful maps and charts. (How about that map of "Non-Existent Islands"!) Highest recommendation.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Surprisingly good guide from Lonely Planet May 14 2009
By Enjolras - Published on
Format: Paperback
I usually associate Lonely Planet guides with backpackers and big cities. However, Lonely Planet did a great job with this tour guide for Antarctica. I used it this past winter during my cruise to Antarctica. It provides very useful background on the key sites and maps on the continent. It covers the history of exploration and international treaties covering the continent. It also has a decent section on Antarctic wildlife (although I would still recommend a dedicated book on the wildlife). More importantly, the book suggests the best sites for pictures and wildlife-viewing. While Lonely Planet isn't a replacement for a book on Antarctic wildlife, this book will help you take advantage of everything the "white continent" has to offer.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Should be considered an essential guide for anyone traveling to or through the region of the Antarctica Feb. 8 2009
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
Format: Paperback
While visiting the Antarctic Circle isn't in most people's plans when they think of traveling the globe, there is a great deal to interest both the causal visitor, the scientist, and the commercial traveler. That's where Jeff Rubin's compact, 380-page travel guide compendium of facts, maps, advice, and descriptive commentary comes in. A wealth of essential background information that includes how to start planning for a trip to antarctica, itineraries, history, expeditions, culture, environment, wildlife, as well as antarctic science are all relevant issues, and provided with solid information for the curious reader. The remaining chapters of Jeff Rubin's "Antarctica" guide book is organized regionally beginning with the Southern Ocean; and continuing with South Georgia, Shag Rocks & South Orkney Islands; Falkland Islands/Isles Malvinas; South Shetland Islands; Other Peri-Antarctic Islands; Antarctic Peninsula & Weddell Sea; Ross Sea; East Antarctica; and the South Pole. Enhanced with the inclusion of a directory, the Antarctic Treaty, a section on Transportation and another on Health, a glossary, an Index, the World Time Zones, and more, Jeff Rubin's "Antarctica" should be considered an essential guide for anyone traveling to or through the region of the Antarctica.
Great for my friend! Feb. 8 2012
By Nicole - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this as a gift for a friend who wants to go to Antarctica. She LOVED it! It's really the best guide book I could find on Antarctica and I looked EVERYWHERE. It came quickly with Amazon Prime.