Antarctica FAQ

Written by
Lily Bunker

Published on: June 19th, 2023

Last modified: November 2nd, 2023

We've compiled our list of most frequently asked questions to help you get prepared before your big adventure to Antarctica. Please read through the questions, using the navigation bar on the left hand side of your page to move easily between the different sections.

Please note that requirements and advice can change so we do recommend you check in with your own travel insurer, doctor and relevant local embassies before embarking on your adventure.

Are there any entry requirements for Antarctica?


Entry to Antarctica will be dependent on your initial entry to either Chile, Argentina or South Africa.

There are no entry requirements for Antarctica itself, however you must make sure you have your passport ready to present when you board your flight or vessel to Antarctica from the mainland. You may also have to show your travel insurance. 

We will confirm certain elements of your trip such as domestic flights & permits using your current passport details. If a member of your party changes their name in their passport after booking (for example, through marriage or adoption) this could mean having to reissue important parts of the trip at an extra cost and subject to availability. 

Please note that requirements can change and we recommend that our guests contact the local embassy in the country where you live for the most recent and up to date information.

Are there any laws, rules or regulations I should be aware of?


There are some biosecurity regulations to adhere to when visiting Antarctica, to ensure non-native species are not brought into the delicate environment of Antarctica. It’s important that the gear you pack for your trip is clean, as muddy boots, for example, could bring in unwanted species or diseases. You may also be required to decontaminate your boots and gear in between excursions. 

It’s worth noting that Chile also operates bio-diversity restrictions on entry, forbidding arrivals to carry food items such as nuts, seeds and fresh produce into the country.


Do I need travel insurance?


Yes, travel insurance is mandatory for a trip to Antarctica. Your boat or camp will ask to see proof of insurance including medical evacuation. It’s essential that you contact your travel designer or concierge to find out the insurance requirements for your individual Antarctica expedition. For example, it could be necessary to include a minimum evacuation requirement of USD 150,000 among other possible requirements. 

Aside from the Antarctica portion of your trip, we always recommend that our guests get the maximum level of coverage that you feel comfortable investing in. Read more about travel insurance for US travellers here and for travellers from other countries here.

Do I need to visit a travel doctor before my trip?


Yes, you will most likely need to visit your doctor and get a signed medical form for your trip to Antarctica. 

You should visit a travel doctor before your trip as they may recommend certain vaccinations or medications before or during travel.

Some vaccines commonly recommended for travellers to Latin America and Southern Africa include: Tetanus, Diphtheria, Polio, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Rabies and Meningitis as well as medication for diseases such as malaria depending on your additional travel plans.

What do I need to know about my regional flights?


It’s best to be prepared for schedule changes when flying to and from Antarctica. The weather is changeable in this part of the world so it’s imperative that you leave yourself plenty of buffer time between important elements of your trip (such as other flights). Your operator will confirm flight times 24 hours before departure, and this could be anytime, day or night – in order to use a clear weather window. Each operator will have different plans in place if the weather does not allow flights to go.

The types of aircraft used to fly from Chile to Antarctica are typically BAE 146-200,  AVRO RJ 85, and the AVRO RJ 100. Flying from South Africa will typically be on Airbus A340-300, private jets are also available. Please speak to your concierge or travel designer if you have more questions.

The typical baggage allowance for all flights from Chile is 20kg and from South Africa, it’s 23kg, both per person.

Once you are in your final destination before flying to Antarctica the local team will handle communication and let you know exactly what to expect. There will always be a briefing the day before you are due to fly.

What will I receive from Jacada before I depart?


Travel pack

Before you head off on your adventure you will be sent a travel pack. The travel pack is full of great information and is also a beautiful keepsake. It is not necessary to travel with vouchers or confirmations on your trip but we do recommend having a printed copy of your travel itinerary to hand when you arrive into Chile, Argentina, South Africa and ultimately, Antarctica.

Bon Voyage email

Around 2 weeks before you depart we will email you an electronic version of your travel pack including your domestic flight tickets. Once you’ve received this email your Travel Designer will reach out to arrange a time for you to talk on the phone to go over any last minute questions and talk you through the information we’ve sent over.

Do I need to bring the local currency?


Prior to, and after your trip in Antarctica you will need to plan your money as per the country you’re based in, either Chile, Argentina or South Africa.

For Antarctica itself, you will not need cash (except for tipping at White Desert). Credit and debit cards are the only form of payment. When paying for extras during your Antarctica trip, all prices will be given in USD.

Can you tell me about tipping and etiquette in Antarctica?


Boats and Fly/Cruises

Any tipping is at your discretion and entirely optional. Should you choose to tip, the standard amount is roughly USD 15 per person per day. This can be added to your account and paid by credit card – you do not need to tip in cash. The gratuity will be divided among the team. 

White Desert Camp (departing from South Africa)

Although tipping is at your own discretion should you wish to, please use the following as a guide:

The camp recommends USD 150 per staff member. There will be 12 staff during your trip, equating to a total tip of USD 1,800 in total per person. The tip should be placed into an envelope and given to the camp manager at the end of your stay.

What’s the weather like and how should I pack?


During the summer in Antarctica temperatures typically range from 0°C (32°F) to 8°C (46.4°F) approximately. Gusts of winds up to around 6 kilometres per hour can make temperatures feel much colder. The summer days in Antarctica are long, with nearly 24 hours of sunlight on the Antarctic Peninsula.

In terms of packing, each operator will include certain items so that you don’t need to bring those with you. To understand what you will be provided with on your trip, please speak to your travel designer or concierge well before departure.

Overall, there are few essential things to remember to pack, that you might find hard to get while you’re travelling:

  • Medication – if you need medication please remember to pack enough for your entire trip, accounting for any delays you might incur.
  • Layers – typically operators will provide outerwear (such as coats, boots, etc) only, so you should bring your own base layers to keep you warm during outdoor activities.  
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Gloves (consider waterproof)
  • Winter hat
  • Sunscreen – the sun can be very strong in Antarctica
  • Eyewear – either sunglasses or prescription eyeglasses.
  • Cameras and the relevant charging and any extra batteries 
  • Comfortable and informal clothes for your time inside your ship (or camp).

Most ships will have laundry facilities on board, however these can be quite expensive so it’s best to check the price list before sending your items.

How can I keep connected on my trip?


Different vessels will use different plugs and power so please speak with your concierge or travel designer for the exact information for your adventure. Many vessels do now have wifi available at an extra cost, however it can be quite patchy and often a bit slow.

White Desert camp operates on South African plugs and power. There is no internet at the camp for either guests or staff, you will be completely off grid here.

Please contact your Jacada travel designer or concierge before your trip with any further questions.