How to travel to Antarctica?What is it like to visit Antarctica? When and where you should go? How much does it cost? What’s the best season to go? How can we do it on budget?
In this blog we will try to answer most frequently asked questions when planning a trip to Antarctica.
They say that Antarctica is the last Continent you should go to because it spoils you rotten. It offers so much that any other trip you might take in the future just leaves you hankering for more. Having experienced the soul of the continent, we can tell you it is true!
So here we’ll try to answer all your questions if you’re planning to book the trip of your lifetime.
1. What is the best time to visit Antarctica?
Most vessel offer tours from November to March. No travellers visit Antarctica during the winter when temperatures plunge into the negative degree.
November: November undoubtedly offers the most amazing time to visit Antarctica peninsula. This is the time to see Antarctica in its most untouched form, as tourists have not arrived yet. Yes, November is relatively cold but low temperatures also offer the most breathtaking scenery, pristine snow and gorgeous landscapes. Wildlife is not as much as we have later in the season (December, January, February), but it is a good time to see the penguins mating. Also the cost will be cheaper as compared to December January which is a peak season. Average temperature ranges from -5 to 0 °C.
December to January: December and January offer most sunlight (up to 20 hours a day), adult penguins begin egg hatching. Wildlife, especially penguin chicks, is at its peak during this time of the season. Weather is warmer. If you wish to visit during this season, make sure you book your tour months in advance as this is the peak season. Average temperature ranges +2 to +5 °C.
February and March: February and early March is the best time to spot whales. You will still be able to spot plenty of wildlife as well. Penguin chicks are fully grown and are very curious. You will be able to book expedition for a relatively cheaper price. Average temperature ranges from -2 to +2 °C.
Antarctica has its own charm in every Season.
Hence, If you do not have Budget Constraint Dec, Jan are considered to be the best time because of longer daylight, warm weather and busy penguin Colony.
But if you have budget constraint, travel anytime from November to Mid-March and we promise every penny you spent will be worth because it’s once in a Lifetime Expedition.
Click here to read our full article on what is the best time to visit Antarctica?
2. How long are the Antarctica trips?
The shortest trip for an Antarctica expedition is six days with an express air cruise option.
Expedition can last for anywhere between 6 days to 25 days. Our recommendation is to take 11 to 12 days cruise to have an optimal experience of Antarctica and at the same time avoid going overboard with your budget.
Some tours offered by travel agents are as below:
o Antarctica Peninsula – 10 to 12 Days
o Crossing the Circle – 18-23 Days
o Falklands Islands & South Georgia Islands – 22 Days
3. How to travel to Antarctica? Where does the Antarctica expedition start from?
Most cruises to Antarctica depart from Ushuaia, Argentina. Although few, especially Antarctic air cruises, leave from Punta Arenas, Chile. There are also options to depart from New Zealand or even fly from South Africa but they are very few and much more expensive than the common ones from Argentina.
4. How much time do you actually spend in Antarctica?
For a Classic Antarctica expedition 11 days trip exploring Antarctica peninsula, you will spend 5 days sailing and 6 days on the land.
We booked our trip through Antarctica Travels.
5. What is the cost of Antarctica Tour?
Prices vary depending on the company, time of the season, length of a cruise, amenities on the vessel, location and size of the cabin selected and other factors.
Having said that, the average price of Antarctica Expedition is around 8,000 USD. The cruise price starts selling from 4,200 USD before the season starts (October and early November) and prices can go up to 20,000 USD depending on the ship, cabin type and number of days. (These rates are for season 2016-17 rates and it may change).
Click here to read our full article on how to visit Antarctica on budget?
6. Which activities and sightseeing is available in Antarctica expedition?
All the Antarctica operators offer zodiac excursions and hiking for up-close experience with Antarctic wildlife. Some ships also offer kayaking. Some expeditions also include overnight camping, walking on glacier and skiing in Antarctica. Also polar plunge is available in most of the ships at zero additional cost. Ships offering camping and kayaking as an activity are usually more expensive.
Click here to read our full article on what to do in Antarctica?
7. Is there any fitness/health requirements?
Trip is not really physically demanding and you do not need to be in excellent condition though you need to be in overall good health. You should not join Antarctica expedition if you have life threatening condition, as these are remote areas and there is no access to modern medical facilities.
8. Is this trip suitable for kids?
Some vessels have minimum age requirements starting from 6 years. Other operators leave it up to the individual. The dramatic landscapes and curious penguins can be fascinating for children and might disturb the wildlife. Also, the long voyages (2 to 3 days without stopping) in the ocean can become tiresome for the kids.
9. How much in advance should one book?
It is recommended to book your expedition as much in advance as possible to give you the best selection of travel dates, cabin types, activities etc. Many departures fill up a year in advance, some even more. Some companies offer a last minute deal and if luck is on your side, you will be able to avail better prices than booking in advance.
10. Which type of ship to select when booking Antarctica expedition?
You will find expedition vessels carrying from 15 up to 500 passengers. Antarctic Treaty states that no more than 100 people are allowed to step on the continent at the same time. So it is highly recommended to select ships with less than 100 passengers on board.
11. What should I pack?
Weather in Antarctica is unpredictable. In addition to cold temperatures, the continent is often very windy and snowy. You will need to pack plenty of layers, hiking shoes, woolen cap, thermals, gloves, woolen socks, waterproof jacket and waterproof bottoms and a windproof parka. Sunscreen and sunglasses are essential, as the ozone layer over Antarctica is very thin. All the vessels provide rubber boots for shore excursion free of charge.
Click here to read our full article on what to pack for Antarctica?
12. Why visit Antarctica? What does it has to Offer?
Antarctica is one of the most remote places on Earth and is the only continent which never had an indigenous human population. Travellers experience here unique wildlife and mesmerizing scenery. It is a place that literally “wows” you at every single corner and for most of the travellers it becomes the favorite destination they have ever visited (including us).
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13. Do I need a visa/passport?
You don’t need a visa to travel to Antarctica, but you might need a visa for the country from which you intend to travel to Antarctica (Chile and Argentina are the most popular). You need to carry your passport on board, as staff on your vessel will take your passport and keep it with them during the full excursion. Nothing to worry about – just a safety rule.
14. What is the local currency used in Antarctica (on board)
USD is standard currency used on board of all vessels. Some vessels also accept Euros. Almost all the vessels accept credit cards. Still it’s always recommended to carry up to 300-500 USD in cash with you.
15. Are these trips a good choice for solo travelers?
Yes! Antarctica is a great destination for solo travelers. Most of the operators offer special single rates and can also arrange a shared room if requested in advance. Some vessels also offer triple or quadruple rooms. Majority of Antarctica visitors still travel as couples or families but the number of solo travelers on board has increased drastically over years.
16. Can I see southern lights in Antarctica?
Aurora or southern lights are only visible near South Pole, from March to September, when it is not possible for tourists to visit.
17. How long are the shore excursions?
Shore excursions are typically 2 to 3 hours long. It is not allowed to take food to the shores. So, make sure you eat well when on board.
18. How rough are the seas? Should I bring medication to prevent seasickness?
Drake Passage is considered to be the roughest waters on the planet. So, it’s absolutely critical that you bring sea sickness medication with you. Some cruises provide sea sickness medicine on board but you really don’t want to take chances. We were told by our captain that our Drake Passage crossing was the calmest during the season. But “calmest crossing“ still meant approx. 20% of people being sea sick. That is why we will highly recommend you to bring sea sickness medicine
Please let us know if you have any more questions. Hope you will visit Antarctica soon.