I know what you’re thinking. Who is this crazy girl and why does she want to visit Antarctica? Trust me – just a few weeks ago, I was wondering the same exact thing. Not about me being crazy though, I was already aware of that.
If someone told me just a few days ago that they were interested in visiting this frozen terrain, I would silently be cursing this lunatic idea in my head. Yet 5 minutes into my research, this summer crazed girl was shown the light.
Ladies & Gents, Antarctica has officially joined my long line of bucket list destinations. Here are 5 tips to help you plan your perfect trip.
1. The journey itself will be an adventure.
photo credit: cimsec.org
Traveling to Antarctica is an adventure in itself, regardless of where you’re coming from.
Most cruises will leave from the southern most city in the world which is located at the very tip of South America – Ushuaia, Argentina.
The other popular cruise lines depart from Punta Arenas, Chile & Montevideo, Uruguay. Additionally, a small percentage of trips leave from Hobart, Australia, Lyttleton or Bluff, New Zealand, and a few leave from South Africa.
The shortest trips from South America & back last about 10-12 days. If you plan on traveling further south to the Falklands, Islas Malvinas, and the South Georgia Islands, 5-6 additional days are needed.
Though there are risks with any type of travel, the journey from South America to the Antarctic isn’t considered especially dangerous.
The most hazardous part of the trip is the open ocean between Cape Horn and the Antarctic Peninsula, also known as Drake’s passage – which takes a full day to cross.
Tourism season goes from November-March/April.
2. It’s not cheap, so save up some money.
photo credit: nathab.com
If traveling to Antarctica is on your bucket list than be prepared to save.
But know that once you’ve successfully saved for your dream trip, the outcome will be the journey of a lifetime.
The best way for you to live this adventure is to participate in a cruise.
Previous passengers have stated that you get what you pay for and if they had the choice to do it all over again they would.
The cheapest full price tickets are $4,500 for a quadruple cabin with a shared bathroom area and around 200 passengers on a 10 day cruise.
Ticket prices will rise with a cruise that spends extra days on land, visits more islands, has less than 100 passengers, or includes an en suite cabin and an open bar.
The reason most people desire a small ship for this trip is due to the shore spots restricting a certain number of people from exploring at once.
More people on a ship = less time on land.
3. It’s guaranteed to be unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
photo credit: Ben Wallis
So what will you see in Antarctica?
You’ll be connecting with a place that’s rarely been touched by humans, and 98% of the continent is covered in snow.
One of the main sites that every cruise will visit is the Antarctic Peninsula. It’s a continuation of the Andes Mountains, so you’re guaranteed to spot peaks rising from the Arctic Sea and enormous glaciers that are breathtaking in both shape and size.
You’ll see humpback, mink, and orca whales, emperor, gentoo, chinstrap and adelies penguins. There are seals resting on the terrain after hours of hunting, avalanches tumbling down from the mountains and icebergs that break through the waters surface in a magnificent fashion.
Though the entire continent is rich with life, South Georgia Island & the Falklands are the best places to view the Arctic’s animal kingdom.
4. Get ready to camp, kayak or scuba dive.
photo credit: hurtigruten.global.ssl.fastly.net
The majority of ships will charge extra for the limited camping & kayaking spaces and other available adventure activities.
The price of camping for one person per night will cost about $225. That’s about 8 solid hours of sleeping in the snow. Talk about cold feet right?
A kayaking package will go for $1,000 per person. With a kayaking package, opportunities are available nearly every time the ship makes a landing (weather permitting).
Cross-country skiing, mountaineering and scuba diving are also available – sure to make this experience a trip of a lifetime.
5. Travel With IAATO.
photo credit: daringplanet.com
IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operations) is a voluntary protection organization for the Antarctic environment.
Antarctica lacks a governing body and its existent treaty does little to protect the welfare of this precious territory from tourists.
When you travel with a company who’s a member of IAATO, you’re guaranteeing that there will be no dumping of gray water into the arctic habitats, no eating on land, no bringing feathers, rocks, or other organic souvenirs home, and no taunting penguins and other life forms.
This land is a treasure and should be treated as such, and traveling with IAATO will ensure that you preserve its beauty in a socially responsible way.
Have you been to Antarctica, or do you plan to go? Do you have any tips or recommendations for our community? Please leave a comment below!