Things to Know Before Visiting Antarctica
Antarctica is the fifth largest continent and a spectacular region of the world to explore. More and more travel operators are offering trips here and going to see Antarctica in person has never been easier.
If you are keen to visit Antarctica, here are some important things to know before you go.
1. How to Get to Antarctica
There are lots of companies offering expeditions to Antarctica and each caters for different interests and budgets.
Most travellers book Antarctica cruises which depart from Ushuaia in Argentina. International tourists usually fly into Buenos Aires, then book an internal fight to complete the journey to Ushuaia.
Ushuania is located in Patagonia on South America’s southern most tip and it is also a great place to visit, although extremely cold. Travellers are advised to spend a few days adjusting to the climate and also taking time to explore some of the highlights of Patagonia including the spectacular Tierra del Fuego National Park.
Some companies also offer trips starting in Punta Arenas in Chile or Montevideo in Uruguay.
2. How Much Do Trips Cost
Antarctica is one of the last unspoiled wildernesses on earth and also very remote so trips here aren't cheap.
Cruises can vary in price from around US$5,000-$20,000 depending on the operator, ship and level of luxury. Flights to Argentina can also cost around another $1-2000 depending on where you travel from. Book well in-advance or last minute to secure the best deals.
3. Best Time to Go
November to March is the only time of year you can visit Antarctica. During this period, ice breaks up allowing ships to navigate through. For safety reasons, it isn't possible to visit at any other months.
4. Do I Need a Visa or Vaccinations
No visa is needed to visit Antarctica but you will need a valid passport for visiting countries en-route. No vaccinations are required either.
5. Buy Travel Insurance
Buying comprehensive travel insurance before departing on your trip is essential, you won’t be allowed to board your cruise ship without it. This is because if there are any emergencies, evacuation alone can cost a minimum of US$100,000! Go for the highest cover amount possible, just for peace of mind.
6. Where Will I Go
Most cruises depart from Ushuaia (as seen in the image above), and then travel through the Drake Passage before stopping in the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula from the Weddell Sea to Gerlache Strait. The scenery is breathtaking!
Wildlife experiences in Antarctica are incredible, there is nothing much like seeing whales, penguins and leopard seals in their natural habitat. If you are lucky and get to see the moment a whale breaks the surface this will live with you for the rest of your life.
7. What to Pack
The weather in Antarctica can be very unpredictable, this is one of the harshest environments on the planet and conditions can change quickly.
You will need to spend time making sure you have all the essential items like warm clothing, a phone, a good camera and batteries. Important things to remember include a coat, insulated waterproof boots, waterproof pants, thick socks, hat, scarf and gloves.
Most of the money you spend will be on the cruise ship. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted but you should also have cash. You will need to check with your travel operator to see what currency you need
9. How to Avoid Seasickness
The journey is notoriously rough but there are some ways to avoid sea sickness. Try to book a cabin near the centre of the ship, this helps with the motion when moving through the ocean. Other things you can do include avoiding alcohol, eating/drinking ginger, wearing wrist-pressure bands and getting lots of sleep/rest. Some medications are also recommended.
10. Listen to Advice
It is very important you listen to staff for guidance on how to stay safe and also how you can visit Antarctica and have minimal impact by respecting the local environment.
All tour operators will give you information before departing, on arrival and you will usually have helpful onboard staff to help. Make sure you follow all rules.
Antarctica really is unlike most other places in the world, you will love with this destination. Go book a trip today, you won't regret it!
If you have any tips for visiting Antarctica, let us know in the comments section below.