The Ultimate Antarctica Travel Guide
Published on: October 3rd, 2017
Last modified: July 28th, 2023
In the spirit of adventure, follow in the footsteps of history's great explorers. Journeying to the spectacular White Continent - a land like nowhere else - is sure to be an epic voyage.
We'll tell you how to make a trip to Antarctica possible and how to make the most of exploring this area. Here's our ultimate Antarctica travel guide, with advice on what you can see and do in this landscape of unimaginable proportions.
How to get to Antarctica
The classic way to reach this remote continent is to board a ship from the Patagonian port of Ushuaia in Argentina, before embarking on a two-day voyage to Antarctica‘s mainland. In the comfort of one of the luxury cruisers, cross the tempestuous Drake Passage where whales glide by and seabirds fly overhead. On reaching the mainland, the ships continue on to navigate the placid waters and carve through the sea ice of the Antarctic Peninsular.
From the ship you can go out on smaller Zodiac boats to explore the captivating icescape, glide between icebergs and seek out blue whales, orcas and seals, while on land you can hike across the white expanse and stand amongst penguin colonies. Intrepid travellers can even dive into the icy water on polar diving excursions.
Bypass the Drake Passage and save two days each way by flying from Punta Arenas, in the south of Chile, straight to Antarctica to join an awaiting expedition ship. Vessels include the Antarctica XXI, which due to its smaller size is able to reach more remote areas than most cruise ships, and the Sea Adventurer, which gives passengers the chance to camp overnight, among many more adventurous activities such as kayaking, hiking and snowshoeing.
Where to stay in Antarctica
Camp on the ice
The ultimate Antarctica experience can be achieved by flying from Cape Town, passing over the icebergs into 24-hour sunshine, before reaching the eco-friendly luxe camp. Overlooking a 200-ft. icefall, the solar powered pods provide complete warmth and comfort from the harsh polar conditions, in an unforgettably scenic setting.
Days are spent hiking, kite-skiing and ice-climbing, with professional polar explorers to guide you along the way, with additional flights that take you over the rugged unexplored mountain ranges to a remote emperor penguin colony and the lowest point on Earth, the South Pole.
Private yacht charter
From Punta Arenas, fly to King George Island where your private yacht will be waiting. From here, along with your own captain and expedition leaders, you’ll set off on a tailored sailing expedition of the Antarctic Peninsular. Cruise amongst Humpback whales and icebergs, visit penguin colonies and camp on the sea ice.
You will also sail to remote sites such as the South Shetland Islands and the flooded volcanic caldera of Deception Island. The luxe yacht has its own helipad, a sun deck with 360-degree views and a jacuzzi, and is equipped for scuba-diving, fishing, waterskiing and wakeboarding.
What to do in Antarctica
Seek out extraordinary marine life and capture unsurpassable underwater photos.
Paddle between the icebergs to get up close to whale, seals, penguins and orcas as they swim by.
Let the wind take you exhilaratingly across the vast expanse of ice and snow.
Fly to the mountains to traverse ice and rock-faces that have never been climbed before.
The South Pole
Stand at the lowest point on Earth, where there is no north, south, east and west.
Leave the expedition ship to explore the icy waters and set foot on land.
Stand amongst thousands of Emperor penguins in the most remote of settings.
Wildlife in Antarctica
Aside from the majestic landscape, people make the journey to Antarctica to encounter the wildlife that is so unique to these extreme polar conditions. Those who make it here have the privilege of getting exceptionally close to marine life and standing amongst inconceivably large colonies of penguins. The time you visit will determine the wildlife experience you have though.
From mid to late December the penguin chicks start to hatch, after which January becomes the feeding frenzy. The best time to spot Peninsular Fin whales, Humpback whales and fur seals is during February and early March. Seabirds such as the Albatross can be spotted while crossing the Drake Passage.
December and January are the most welcoming of months in Antarctica. The days are long (with over 20 hours of sunshine) and the weather averages -26F.
November is usually the best month to catch a glimpse of the penguins (around 17 species of penguins go there to breed), as this is when they come to shore to court one another.