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Chimu reflects on 20 years of Antarctic adventures & how to maintain a sustainable future

Marking 20 years of operating expeditions to Antarctica in July 2024, Chimu Adventures has witnessed the evolution from repurposed research ships to purpose-built vessels and from rugged expeditions to light adventure and even luxury onboard comforts and now back to focusing on the destination again.

Marking 20 years of operating expeditions to Antarctica in July 2024, Chimu Adventures has witnessed the evolution from repurposed research ships to purpose-built vessels and from rugged expeditions to light adventure and even luxury onboard comforts and now back to focusing on the destination again.

The pioneering company is now seeing travellers steer back to Antarctica as the destination instead of the journey with a focus on immersive and sustainable onshore experiences.

Chimu Adventures Managing Director Chad Carey said despite the tourism influx, Antarctica is still remote and sought after by more adventurous travellers who want the traditional small-ship expedition experience where immersive light adventure off the ship remains the focus.

Chimu Adventures Chad Carey
Chimu Adventures Managing Director Chad Carey.

“Despite the perception the destination has exploded, around 120,000 travellers [to Antarctica] pales in comparison to the approximately 80 million tourists per year to France,” he said.

“Tourism in Antarctica is not like any place on the planet. Most operators work strictly under safety and responsible travel guidelines, minimising impact on the destination.

Chimu Antarctica penguins
Immersive experiences with wildlife such as penguins.

“What we have also noticed, and applaud, is the way travellers are introduced to Antarctica is more mindful than ever.

“Restrictions on where and how long travellers can land, how close they can be to wildlife, their involvement in citizen science, their education on the fragility of the planet and the giveback opportunities have evolved to a platinum standard that should be adopted across the globe.”

New ways to explore Antarctica responsibly

Chimu Antarctica selfie
More mindful exploration where travellers take away memories only.

With more sophisticated small ships available, touring options have also evolved.

From four standard peninsula itineraries offered by most operators to expeditions to the Sub-Antarctic Islands, Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the East Coast, there are also new embarkation and disembarkation locations such as South Africa.

Chimu Antarctica Citizen Science
Citizen science initiatives in Antarctica.

As a long-time leader for sustainable tourism in Antarctica, Carey said the different itinerary options means less crowding and a better experience all round.

“The variety of itineraries not only allows travellers to visit different parts of the coastline of Antarctica and the surrounds, but it also allows cruise companies to operate in isolation, which offers less impact on the locations they visit and a richer customer experience,” Carey said.

Steering towards a sustainable future

Chimu Antarctica Zodiac
Exploring Antarctica by Zodiac.

Now and on the horizon, the focus is on decarbonisation efforts as operators in Antarctica work towards meeting International Maritime Organisation (IMO) targets of up to 30 per less greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and up to 80 per cent less by 2040.

With ongoing efforts to minimise environmental impact and ensure a sustainable future, Chimu Adventures anticipates Antarctica will remain a pristine destination for years to come.

“There is an accelerated passion for this project in the expedition cruise space from both crew and travellers, aligned with a desire for a greener future and I believe tourism operators around the world will be looking at the expedition cruise sector in the future to replicate the carbon reduction successes,” Carey said.

To find out more, visit chimuadventures.com