08/02/2012 07:05 am ET Updated Oct 02, 2012

Incredible Antarctica: The Wilderness At Earth's End (PHOTOS)

Antarctica is a landscape of superlatives: Stunningly beautiful in a very big way, it harbors the largest amount of freshwater ice in the world and it sits on top of a salty sea. These icebergs are huge beyond description, regularly the size of large buildings and occasionally the size of small states.

Think Rhode Island, but crystalline.

The seas are also teeming with life -- humpback and killer whales, five different kinds of seals -- and shorelines studded with thousands of penguins. And the air is so clear you can see seemingly forever.

Head south in November or December and you'll arrive to witness an explosion of life as the long polar night and the harshness of winter retreat. The snow is virgin and the animals are multitudinous. It may be the summer in the southern hemisphere, but these cold-weather types never seem to mind.

More exciting than Rhode Island.

All photos were shot during expeditions aboard the National Geographic Explorer..

Antarctic Wonders