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An opportunity to travel to Antarctica is rare and wonderful. This remote wilderness is bursting with epic landscapes and wildlife. To plan a trip to the white continent, you must research the common starting locations such as Ushuaia and New Zealand. From here you can then plan the rest of your trip and any extra stops you wish to take.
Furthermore, you must look at potential locations to visit like the Antarctic Peninsula, and the Falkland Islands. Different cruises have varying routes – some may only visit the Antarctic Peninsula, for example. Next, finding a suitable cruise company and flights is an absolute must. Ensure that your cruise dates and flights align and that you have enough time to arrive at the departure locations.
Don’t forget to purchase protective clothing too, and create a packing list with essential items. Wearing the correct clothing will protect you from the unpredictable Antarctic weather. Moreover, creating a packing list ensures you are prepared for the adventures that await!
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If you love remote locations and exploring little-traveled corners of our world, Antarctica is a must-see destination. This whole continent is a traveler’s dream – a worthy bucket list entry. During the age of exploration, legendary figures such as Amundsen and Scott discovered this snow-covered wilderness.
Today, we can sail to the white continent and explore the wonders of the Antarctic Peninsula. See vast icebergs towering in the Southern ocean. Walk among thousands of Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins. Admire the pristine landscapes and untouched islands. Every day presents a new adventure and amazement.
So, if you want to tread in the footsteps of iconic explorers, we have created a guide on how to travel to Antarctica – enjoy!
Whilst Antarctica presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, planning such a trip requires care and consideration. This includes looking at the best time to go to Antarctica. It is only possible to visit Antarctica between the months of November to March – the other months present impassable sea-ice and harsh weather conditions. The following is some info on what you can expect during each month of your travel to Antarctica:
- Largest icebergs: December to January
- Penguin chicks: January to February
- Whales: February to March
- Warmest weather: December to February
Research the common starting destinations
Antarctic cruises only start from four main locations:
- Australia (Tasmania)
- New Zealand (Invercargill)
The two main destinations that sail to the Antarctic Peninsula are Ushuaia and Montevideo. Ushuaia is located at the southern tip of Argentina and offers the quickest crossing to Antarctica. Sailing from Montevideo in Uruguay is longer, but offers more convenient flights.
Sailing from Tasmania or New Zealand presents a different experience – cruises from Oceana travel to the opposite side of Antarctica including the Commonwealth bay, and the Ross Sea. Deciding which starting location you wish to travel from is one of the first things you should look at as this will shape the rest of your decisions.
Consider additional stop-offs around the cruise
From experience, to get to Antarctica, you will have to travel to a remote location first. Many people, therefore, take advantage of the situation and plan an extended trip that encompasses other destinations. The following are some destinations you could consider visiting as part of your Antarctic expedition:
- South America
- New Zealand, South Island
Look at available flight routes
To build upon the above point, planning flights is often tricky. For example, I had to fly from England to Ushuaia via Amsterdam and Buenos Aires. Locations such as Ushuaia, Hobart, and Invercargill do not have regular flights – you must plan flights carefully and ensure they coincide with your cruise. The following are the main airports you may need to plan flights too:
- Ushuaia: Aeropuerto Internacional Malvinas Argentinas
- Montevideo: Carrasco International Airport
- Australia: Hobart Airport (Tasmania)
- New Zealand: Invercargill Airport
Choose locations in the Southern Hemisphere you wish to visit
Antarctic cruises can vary greatly in length and route. It is important to look at exactly where you want to visit. Aside from the Antarctic Peninsula, the Commonwealth Bay area, and the Ross Sea, the following are other potential places to visit:
Both the Falkland Islands and South Georgia are fascinating places to visit. The Falklands have a tumultuous history and barren landscapes, whilst South Georgia is home to one of the largest wildlife populations in the world. If you want to include either of these locations, the only downside is the increased cost (and the increased total travel time).
Find a suitable cruise company
Planning an Antarctic trip is not like organizing a standard holiday. There is a limited number of registered companies that operate cruises to this part of the world. The following are some of the top companies that offer Antarctic cruises:
Prices vary greatly – G Adventures and Intrepid Travel, for example, offer some of the best rates available. Other companies such as Lindblad, however, are most expensive due to their association with National Geographic. We advise researching these companies beforehand. Look at the cruise routes they offer, the sailing dates, and the starting locations.
Also, look at options for sharing cabins – Antarctica is an expensive trip, therefore any cash you can save is a bonus. Sharing a cabin reduces the overall cruise price considerably – by thousands in most instances. For example, you could pay half the rate for a shared quad cabin compared to a double suite.
Buy adequate protective clothing
Antarctica has extreme weather – heavy snowfall, freezing temperatures, and blizzards. It is, therefore, essential to have adequate protective clothing. Imagine trying to trudge through a snowstorm in a t-shirt and jeans! There are two options – purchase clothing beforehand or purchase clothing from a shop at the starting location of your cruise.
Both methods are viable. Ushuaia, for example, has a myriad of expedition gear shops. The main point is that you shouldn’t go ill-prepared; at a minimum, you should have the following:
- Base layer (thermal leggings, thermal top)
- Insulated socks
- Insulated gloves
- An insulated hat
- Parka coat
- Waterproof trousers
Having this clothing available gives you flexibility. Furthermore, it ensures you can enjoy your Antarctica expedition without worrying about the weather.
Create a packing list
You may only visit Antarctica once. Being prepared and having a complete packing list is therefore essential. Imagine landing at Ushuaia, only to find that you have forgotten to pack a spare SD memory card or camera batteries!
Before you travel to Antarctica, create a packing list of the essentials – camera equipment, medication, toiletries, electronics, and of course, protective clothing. We advise taking spare batteries, extra SD cards, and anti-sea sickness tablets. Even if you are not an avid photographer, you will still want to take some pics of the epic Antarctic scenery and wildlife. Crossing the Southern Seas, such as the Drakes Passage, can be an experience – even those who don’t suffer from seasickness will benefit from anti-sickness tablets.
Purchase warm clothing
We gave a list of the clothing items above. The most important items are the thermal base layer, and the Parka overcoat. Wearing a base layer gives you freedom to add or remove additional layers. Moreover, a Parka ensures you are protected from any adverse weather conditions.
Book the cruise
Book the cruise itself – once this is secured and you have paid a deposit, you can then plan the rest of your trip. When booking the cruise, ensure to check the dates, and the type of cabin. Look at any additional extras such as kayaking or Antarctic camping.
Book your flight
Once the cruise is secured, you must book flights. This ensures that you can get on your cruise! When booking flights, be sure to check the cruise departure times. Give yourself enough time between flights and sufficient time to reach the departure point.
About the Author
Paul specializes in travel and photography. His passion for travel spans back to his childhood and has been a life-long obsession. He has seen much of the world including cold climate destinations like Antarctica, Greenland, Svalbard, and Iceland. This combined with a thirst for knowledge, and a love of literature, has allowed him to craft a successful career as a writer. Through his writing, he loves to empower readers to see the world just as he has.
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