The odd duck of volcanoes, Mount Erebus’s permanent lava lake reaches temperatures of 1,826 degrees Fahrenheit, but is situated in one of the coldest places on Earth. The southern-most active volcano and second-highest summit on Antarctica’s Ross Island (at 12,448 feet), this volcano has been active since 1972. Though its ironic location alone makes us scratch our heads, its ice towers (pictured above) are even more unbelievable. As gas escapes fissures on the sides of the mountain, the ice pack and snow on the surface begins to melt and hollow out. As the warm, wet air inside escapes into the cold air, it freezes and creates frozen crystals along the edges, building the towers to up to 60 feet tall. They occasionally topple over.
When to go and what to do: Though we can't guarantee Mount Erebus will be included in your itinerary, one of the best ways to see Antarctica is on a cruise. If you want to see whales in their natural habitat, set sail between February and March. Visit between November and early December to see penguins in their courting and mating season, and wild flowers bloom on the South Georgia Islands. Take advantage of the "warm" weather and longer days in mid-December and January.
Book it: Consider taking an Antarctica cruise from $4,999/person. Scheduled to leave in November, 2013 and 2014, this 13-day cruise allows you to observe the scenery of this remote location. In addition to all meals, this once-in-a-lifetime trip also provides a complimentary (and much needed) parka for each passenger. Boots, on the other hand, are available to rent. Want to explore by land instead of by sea? The Australian Antarctic sightseeing program offers flights to Antarctica on Qantas.