Stunning landscapes. Marvellous wildlife. Astounding human survival stories. Here's a list of books and films that contain all of that. If you are thinking of embarking on an Antarctica trip, once you've watched or read our recommendations, you will feel you have to be on a vessel, destination south, pronto.
A Year On Ice (2013)
An extraordinary film that documents the experiences of Anthony Powell, its director, a satellite telecommunications engineer, his wife and other support personnel at the McMurdo and Scott bases in Antarctica. Powell, a self-taught New Zeland filmmaker, manages to capture both the incredible beauty of the landscape and the lives of the humans who chose to spend the long and dark months of winter at the bases.
Encounters at the End of the World (2007)
Fascinating and breathtaking exploration of Antarctic life from the unique perspective of German director Werner Herzog. It focuses on the scientists at McMurdo Station, and we learn all sort of things about them and their work. The use of underwater photography is particularly good and put to use to tell a story that is moving, beautiful and terrifying at times. A must-see.
BBC Earth makes some of the best nature documentaries going, and you can expect their usual quality in this fascinating and beautifully shot film about Earth’s coldest continent. Few other documentaries will give you a better survey of the terrain you can enjoy and animals you might encounter, with due attention paid even to the rarely seen wildlife that lives beneath the Antarctic waves.
Happy Feet (2006)
Happy Feet is the story of a little penguin who cannot sing, but finds out that he has an unusual talent for a penguin: he can tap dance! This film won the 2007 Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film of the Year and was directed, produced and co-written by Australian George Miller, who you might know for the Mad Max franchise. Emperor penguins singing and dancing. What more could you ask for? Great film to watch with your little ones.
March of the Penguins (2005)
This Oscar-winning French documentary tales the story of the Emperor penguins and their yearly journey to their nesting colonies inland. They leave the shores and march 50 to 120 km, days and days of walking on ice, battling the elements. Hence, the march of the penguins. But that it's just the beginning. This documentary is great for both children and adults.
Another amazing story of survival in Antarctica. This little-known story in Antarctic exploration history has Douglas Mawson, leader of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, as protagonist. In January 1913, Mawson found himself alone, with no food and no companions. Roberts knows how to tell a story and he has done his research, basing his narrative on the surviving diaries of the expedition’s members.
In 1914, brave veteran British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton lead the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Its objective? The crossing of Antarctica from sea to sea, via the pole. Two ships were part of the expedition: the main ship, the Endurance, and the support ship, the Aurora. The Endurance departed from South Georgia on December 5t, and soon find herself fighting the early ice. By mid-January, Endurance had become trapped on an ice floe. South is the memoir written by Sir Shackleton of the Endurance's crew epic journey in order to survive.
We know very well the stories of the failed Antarctic expeditions: Scott's, Shackleton's. But we do not hear so much about the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, maybe because his was a successful journey. Amundsen beat everyone to the South Pole and did it so thanks to his professional and intellectual approach to exploration. This book is the account, in his direct, understated and simple manner, of one of the greatest tales of this age.
Sir David Attenborough recommended this guide, and well, who are we to say otherwise? Soper's guide to Antarctic Wildlife is a great tool for those who want to be able to tell the Humboldt penguins from Magellanic penguins, for example (not so easily done, as you will find out!). A curious fact: the illustrator, Dafila Scott, is the grand-daughter of, yes, you've guessed it, Scott the Antarctic explorer.
Sebastián Arrebola & Shoshanah Jacobs
Everything you need to know before your trip to Antarctica: environment, geography, wildlife and a brief history of exploration. This is a well-known book for insiders, and it is available in Spanish as well. Lots of great images, maps and illustrations. The prologue was written by Pierre-Yves Cousteau, the son of the famous French explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau.