Antarctica is the last vast wilderness on the planet. Its gigantic icebergs, mountain ranges and the emptiness of the polar plateau boggle the mind, while its weather curdles the blood. Its beautiful and serene, savage and violent, and its scale is almost unfathomable. The last decade has shown, much to the relief of many, that tourism, not mining or oil drilling, is Antarcticas growth industry, and theres a good chance that the continent will remain a free and unsullied place of international cooperation.Its the most isolated continent on the planet and a trip to the polar south must still be earned, either through a long uncomfortable voyage by ship or an expensive aeroplane flight. But be warned, weather and ice - not clocks and calendars - set the schedule for a journey here. No matter what the reason for your visit, youll be at the mercy of the continents changing moods and weather patterns.