Antarctica Travel Tips

A land that holds 90% of Earth’s ice, Antarctica stuns visitors with its awe-inspiring beauty. Setting foot on the seventh continent is a privilege and an honor. You will bring home indelible tales, and your journey will arouse the curiosity of your family and friends. To ensure you enjoy every moment, review our Antarctica travel tips and get prepared for an adventure of a lifetime.

Planning Your Trip

On every journey, our Antarctica21 team includes at least 12 expert polar guides and their number one priority is ensuring you have an unforgettable experience. Our team knows Antarctica´s unique geography, natural history, wildlife and ecology, and loves sharing their expertise with you, including the travel tips below. Our expeditions are suitable for adventurous travelers who enjoy full mobility and reasonably good health. Each year we welcome guests from over 40 different countries. They may travel alone, as a family, or as a part of a group. The one they they all have in common is a curosity for the world and this desire to explore it.

As an Antarctic specialist, we understand intimately how to coordinate air and sea operations in the changeable Antarctic environment. We have completed over 200 fly and cruise departures and we bring all that experience to your journey. Expedition travel to Antarctica requires flexibility and adaptation to ever-changing circumstances, to help you get prepared for an adventure to Antarctica or one of our other destinations we have created a list of important travel tips for you to review below.

 

Single travelers can choose between:

  • Booking a dedicated Single Cabin. No supplement is applied for single use of dedicated Single Cabins.
  • Booking a Twin Cabin for single use. An 85% supplement will be added to the rate per person when booking in a limited number of Porthole and Veranda Cabins on Magellan Explorer, Twin Cabins on Ocean Nova, and Window Suites and Promenade Suites on Hebridean Sky. A 100% supplement applies when booking all other categories.
  • Sharing a cabin with another passenger of the same gender. This is available on Magellan Explorer in Porthole and Veranda Cabins, on Ocean Nova in Twin Cabins, and on Hebridean Sky in Window Suites and Promenade Suites. Antarctica21 will take care of finding the matching companion. Passengers who book a Twin Cabin on a shared basis are accommodated in single rooms at the hotel in Punta Arenas for which they must pay a Single Hotel Room Supplement that varies based on the departure selected. Please inquire at time of reservation.
  • Note: Single travelers who use CPAP machines or other assistive devices, as well as those who have conditions that can be disrupting to others (loud snoring, sleepwalking etc.) can only book their air-cruise in a Single Cabin or in a Twin Cabin for single use. They cannot book on a twin-share basis.

Children are admitted from the age of 8 years if accompanied by an adult who will take responsibility and sign a waiver. A 5% discount on the rate per person is offered for children up to 12 years of age.

Travelers must arrive in Punta Arenas by 14:00 hrs (2:00 PM) on Day 1 of the itinerary of their trip. Travelers who miss this deadline will not be able to participate in the trip, and no refund will be extended. On the last day of the expedition, travelers are strongly encouraged to book flights departing in the late afternoon. We strongly recommend avoiding tight flight connections. We recommend booking a flexible airfare. It is also important to check visa requirements for your country for travel to Chile prior to your trip.

A number of national and international airlines land daily at Santiago’s airport. Two national airlines connect the capital of Chile and Punta Arenas with several daily flights. The distance between Santiago and Punta Arenas is about 3,000 km and a direct flight takes about 3 and half hours.

Punta Arenas is situated in the Chilean Patagonia where there are several border crossings between Chile and Argentina. Overland travel from El Calafate, Rio Gallegos, Rio Grande and Ushuaia is possible but takes a considerable amount of travel time. Punta Arenas can also be reached from Torres del Paine National Park (about 5 hours by car) and Puerto Natales (3 hours by car).

A number of national and international airlines land daily at the Buenos Aires airport and several daily connections serve Ushuaia. The distance between Buenos Aires and Ushuaia is about 3,190 km and a direct flight takes about 3 hours and 40 minutes. The main Argentinean airline is Aerolineas Argentinas. Latam airline also operates in Argentina. Note that Buenos Aires has two airports that service Ushuaia; please double-check which airport your flight will leave from as they are on opposite sides of the city.

Travelers must arrive at the ship between 15:00 hrs (3:00 PM) and 16:00 hrs (4:00 PM). We strongly recommend avoiding tight flight connections. Travelers who miss this deadline will not be able to participate in the trip and no refund will be extended. It is also important to check visa requirements for your country for travel to Argentina and Chile prior to your trip.

Ushuaia lies on the southern shore of Tierra Del Fuego island, on the Beagle Channel, at the very end of the National Road n. 3 starting in Buenos Aires. This road links Ushuaia with other cities in Patagonia. Motor coach service between Ushuaia and Punta Arenas is available and takes approximately 10-12 hours, depending on border crossing.

Depending on your nationality, you may be required to pay a Reciprocity Fee to enter Argentina and/or to obtain an entry visa.

Travelers are required to review the My Expedition portal prior to departure. The participation form should be submitted no later than 120 days prior to departure.

Getting on and off the ship requires full mobility. You don’t need to be very agile but you do need to be able to walk and manage stairs independently, as well as to lift your legs over the pontoons of the Zodiacs to embark and disembark. Walks on the beach or further inland, with some low hill climbing, are available. You should be reasonably fit to be able to enjoy those activities but it will always be up to you how far you choose to walk. Physical activity will never be imposed and you can set your own pace.

In the Participation Form you will be asked to tell us all about your health problems, either past or present, including allergies, etc. This will allow our onboard doctor to be aware of the medical needs of each one of our passengers, and allow him or her to be better prepared.

One of our most important travel tips for Antarctica is the weight of your bag. The maximum luggage weight allowed on flights to and from Antarctica is 20 kg (44 lbs.) per passenger, including hand luggage. For trips starting and ending in Punta Arenas, luggage exceeding this weight limit can be left in custody with Antarctica21. This luggage custody service is not available for Antarctica Express Air-Cruises starting in Ushuaia.

Antarctica21 requires participants to be adequately covered by medical insurance, including aero-medical evacuation from Antarctica. We also urge that all travelers be adequately covered by trip cancellation and interruption insurance.

Our ship has a small, well-equipped infirmary for the attention of minor medical problems and is under the care of a licensed medical doctor. Serious emergencies require evacuation to medical centres in South America that are better equipped, which requires a very costly air evacuation procedure. This is why we ask our passengers to have an insurance policy that covers emergency medical evacuation.

Flights to and from Antarctica operate based on weather conditions. While historically only a minority of flights have experienced a delay, you should be prepared for that possibility.

The “Important Information” and “Contingency Plan” sections of the Antarctica21 brochure detail the plan should unfavorable weather conditions impact the operation of the Antarctic flight. Travelers should review and understand these details.

Another important travel tip for Antarctica and all of our destinations is for entry visas and fees. Travelers should check the entry requirements of the countries visited during their trip, based on their nationality. Antarctica Express AirCruises visit Argentina and Chile so the requirements of both countries should be considered.

We are privileged to have a group of international chefs prepare a delicious selection of different cuisines throughout your trip. Wine, beer, juice and soft drinks served with lunch and dinner on board our ships are included, as well as coffee, tea, chocolate, cappuccino, water and snacks throughout the expedition. Note: beverages purchased at the ship’s bar as well as not-included beverage purchased in the dining room are at a charge.

Dietary requests must be made on the Participation Form you receive after your booking confirmation. This information will be passed along to our staff so they can accommodate your needs while on your voyage. Note: due to the nature of our expeditions and the kitchens onboard the ships, Kosher and vegan meals cannot be accommodated.

Your safety is our main concern. You will be provided with a mandatory safety session before departing on your voyage. You will be shown where the life jackets are, as well as the safety boats in case of an emergency evacuation. During rough weather, do not walk in large, open areas and be sure to use handrails both outside and inside the vessel. Always use door handles and never hold doors by their frames, as a sudden movement may prove very dangerous. Always turn on the lights upon entering your cabin in case items have moved around. Use non-slip shoes when on deck, as it can be slippery at times.

Austral summer weather in Antarctica means mostly mild temperatures. You can expect cold, sunny days and brisk winds, which may turn into stormy weather and even a few snow flurries or snow. You should be prepared for quick changes in weather conditions. Below we offering more packing and travel tips for your expedition with us.

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Suggested Packing List

One of the most important Antarctica travel tips is ensuring you have the right gear. The average temperature in the Antarctica Peninsula area during the austral summer is about 0º C (32º F), although sometimes it may feel a little lower because of the wind chill factor. For this reason, it is best to wear several layers of light, warm clothing, with a windproof and waterproof jacket and pants as the outer layer. The suggested clothing for Antarctica is very similar to that recommended for skiing.

Sunglasses

Due to the reflection of the sun on the snow and ice, it is important to bring sunglasses or ski googles with high UV protection.

Headgear

There are high and cold winds in Antarctica. A warm cap, hat, or balaclava hood is needed.

Fleece layers

A Fleece jacket and trousers are recommended when on outdoor excursions.

Waterproof Parka

A waterproof hooded parka (similar to what is used for skiing) is recommended as your final outter layer during expeditions.

Thermal Layering

Thermal underwear, including sweatshirts, turtlenecks, socks (layering with wool, silk or synthetics fabrics, rather than cotton) are recommended.

Gloves

Well insulated thermal gloves or mittens are important to bring for your trip.

Pants

Insulated waterproof trousers (ski pants) are recommened as your final outter layer for excursions.

Clothes

We suggest Comfortable clothes to wear on board (temperature on board is about 20º-22ºC, or 68º-72ºF) the ship.

Swimsuit

A swimsuit is important to pack In case you want to partake in the Polar Plunge or use the sauna.

Shoes

Bring comfortable rubber-soled shoes to wear on board the ship.

Expedition Boots

On the first day of the program Antarctica21 staff will deliver a pair of boots for landing in Antarctica to each passenger. Boots are provided on loan and will be collected before the end of the trip.

Suggested Items

The following Antarctica travel tips are designed to answer any questions that you may have about your Antarctic experience. We hope you will find this information useful. Should there be anything else that we can assist you with, please do not hesitate to contact us – we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

To see the wildlife you should have a good pair of lightweight binoculars (the suggested magnification is 7x or 8x). If you are passionate about photography, do not forget a good zoom lens to shoot wildlife while avoiding close approaches. Also, take with you a good supply of memory cards and spare batteries since cold temperatures can reduce their life span.

While we hope you are able to disconnect from the outside world to enjoy your voyage to the fullest, we understand this is not always possible. We have a satellite telephone and Internet services on board, available at an additional charge to guests. Please note that due to the nature of our expedition and the location we travel, services will not be to the standard you are used to at home, and as such, you should expect slow or delayed services at best.

Everyone on board the ship will work hard to make your experience special. Although this is a personal choice, it is customary for passengers to leave a gratuity to the crew, service personnel, and expedition staff as a sign of appreciation. You can make a single contribution at the end of the voyage. As a general guideline, we suggest US$15 per passenger per day. Gratuities can be added prior to settling your shipboard account, or put in an envelope and dropped in a box set out on the last days of the voyage.

For extra comfort, clients can purchase a limited number of Preferred Seats on their Antarctic flight. Preferred Seats offer a guaranteed aisle or window seat at the front of the aircraft, priority boarding in Punta Arenas, and an amenities kit. Please consult your Antarctcia sales representative for more information.

Sea Kayaking and Hiking and Snowshoeing are available as optional adventure activities on selected departures. Please consult your Antarctcia sales representative for more information.

As most landings in Antarctica are “wet landings”, the best footwear is knee-high waterproof boots. You will not need to carry them with you since Antarctica21 will provide you with a pair of thermal rubber boots before arriving in Antarctica. To ensure a good fitting, we will request your shoe size in the particpation form.

Good quality UV filtering sunglasses are essential. Glacier glasses have leather flaps at the sides to stop the light from passing through. Due to the high reflectance of UV radiation, you will also need good sun block lotion for your face (protection factor
30 and above) and lip balm.

The aircraft cabin is heated to provide you with a comfortable flight, however please bear in mind that you will be landing in Antarctica, where the temperature on average is 0°C (32°F). We suggest you wear layers of warm clothing and take with you a parka/anorak, waterproof trousers, a pair of gloves, and a cap or hat. Please ensure that you are wearing your Antarctica21 rubber boots when you disembark the aircraft.

Casual attire (expedition style) is the most appropriate apparel for the voyage. Clothing should be comfortable and informal, including shoes. There is no requirement to dress formally for any meals. Should you wish to be on the outside decks, the Antarctica21 rubber boots are ideally warm and comfortable to wear. The average temperature on board is about 20°/22°C (68°/72°F).

Seasickness is an unpleasant but very treatable condition. There are a variety of effective over-the-counter and prescription remedies for it. Remember that these treatments are generally more effective when taken BEFORE the onset of nausea; so if you are prone to seasickness, consider taking action before sailing or entering open seas. Although the ship’s doctor is available for advice, check with your personal doctor before departure about taking medication.

Please ensure you pack any personal medication for your trip. Please also consider to bring some additional doses in case there is any delay with flights.

Electric outlets on board are 220V/50Hz, and are equipped with standard U.S. two-pin system, 2-prong plug or Euro-plug and USB port. Please bring with you the necessary converters and adapters.

Electric outlets are different in the 3 ships:

HEB: Electric outlets on board are 110V/50Hz, and are equipped with standard US. Two-pin system(type B).

MAG: Electric outlets on board are 220V/50HZ, and are equipped with standard US two-pin system, 2-prong plug or Euro-plug and USB port.

OCN: Electric outlets on board are 220V/50HZ, and are equipped with standard 2-prong plug or Euro-plug.

Smoking is not permitted on board, except in designated areas on the exterior decks, where cigarette butt containers are located.

  • All passenger areas, including cabins and balconies, are designated as non-smoking.
  • Smoking is not permitted anywhere inside the ships (including the balcony areas,) on Zodiacs, or on landings during shore excursions in Antarctica.
  • International law dictates the allowed designated area for smoking on commercial vessels; This location will be clearly identified to passengers during the Safety Briefing at the beginning of the voyage. For safety and environmental reasons, never throw cigarette butts or any other material on the ground or into the sea.
Icon of Participation Form

Participation Form

Please remember to fill out your participation form 120 days prior to your depature. If you have questions regarding your form, please let us know.

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Visas and Passports

Upon booking please consult with your embassy or consulate regarding travel to both Chile and Argentina.

Suggested Reading

The race to the white continent

Alan Gurney

Ships of the Antarctic book cover

Ordeal by ice

Rorke Bryan

Antarctica The blue continent book cover

Antarctica: the blue continent

David McGonigal & Lynn Woodworth

The Crystal Desert book cover

The crystal desert

David Campbell

Le porquoi pas? book cover

Le porquoi-pas? dans L'antarctique

Jean-Baptiste Charcot

Ready to Start Planning?

Antarctica is like no other place on earth, and we would love to welcome you there. Complete this short form to receive a customized quote from our team and start planning your Antarctic fly-cruise adventure today.