words Al Woods
It is undeniable that Antarctica is one of the ultimate travel destinations because of the incredible wildlife encounters, as well as the bounty of magnificent landscapes that can delight your senses. However, if you are planning to embark on a journey to Antarctica, then you should be prepared for it because it is considerably more expensive compared to other travel destinations. You also need to allocate time for it too, in order to maximize your experience.
The tips below may help you if you are planning on a trip to Antarctica, regardless of your budget.
Length of the Trip
The duration of your travel to Antarctica greatly depends on the route you take. There are cruise-based Antarctic Peninsula trips that span anywhere from 8 to 24 days. You can either board the ship in South America, South Georgia, or the Falkland Islands, with a relatively longer trip duration should you board the latter port. To get a better idea of the trip durations, you can actually compare expedition cruises here where you will get an insight into the itinerary that you should choose, as well as the best time for you to go. You will even get the chance to explore the type of ship that is most suitable for you and discover which ones have the amenities best fitted to your needs. On the other hand, there are also fly-cruise trips to the Antarctic Peninsula. For this route, you need to fly from South America, passing over the Drake Passage, and eventually get into a cruise ship to Antarctica. You have the option of flying one way and taking the cruise to get back and vice versa. You can also fly both ways if you intend to spend only a week for the trip. Nevertheless, the entire duration of your adventure will take anywhere from 6 to 19 days.
Cost of the trip
The cost of traveling to Antarctica greatly varies, with some being able to secure deals for as low as a couple of thousand dollars, and others notwithstanding the luxury of spending tens and thousands of dollars for a two-week trip. Nevertheless, the cost of a port to port cruise trip usually includes your accommodation, as well as all the meals onboard, including some snacks and coffee. Also included are the fees that need to be collected for the program lectures, as well as the daily shore excursions and hiking programs.
Months to visit
November to March are the months that are usually known as the best time to visit. This is because it is during these months that the Antarctic region is experiencing the summer region, wherein there are around 20 hours of daylight or more. The waters during this time are not frozen solid, allowing ships to effortlessly pass through.
- From November to early December is considered late spring or early summer. This is the courting season for the penguins and seabirds, as well as for the elephant and fur seals. Thus, you may get the chance to witness their courting ritual or see them establish their breeding territories. Seals are also visible on fast ice during this time, and you may even see some spring flowers in the Falkland Islands, as well as in South Georgia if this is part of your route.
- From mid-December to the end of January is considered as the midsummer season in the Antarctic Peninsula. This is usually the warmest month in the region and the longer days create fantastic photo opportunities because of the astounding light even at midnight. This is also the time frame wherein penguin egg hatches, while the fur seals are breeding. Nonetheless, seal pups are already visible in South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. Overall, the receding ice during this midsummer season paves the way for more exploration expeditions.
- February and March are considered as the late summer in the region. It is during this time where you have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of a whale. Additionally, blooming snow algae are already prevalent and more receding ice will allow you to travel further south.
Common routes to Antarctica
There are several means to get to Antarctica and some of which are:
- The Classic Western Peninsula Voyage – This is the best-known route and also the most affordable one. It is also the best-known route for first-timers. The route is usually from Ushuaia to the Drake Passage, to the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula before going back to the Drake Passage and Ushuaia.
- Crossing the Antarctic Circle – This route is for the bold and fearless. As such, this route, which is further down south than the western Antarctic Peninsula, is typically not included in standard cruise routes. It lies on a latitude around 66° south of the equator, which means that there is a certain day of the year wherein this area receives sunlight for 24 hours.
- Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands – You can depart from Ushuaia or Buenos Aires if your first port of call is the Falkland Islands. This route is best for wildlife wanderers who want to have a close encounter experience with penguins and albatrosses. The route is typically from Ushuaia to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, before heading out to the South Shetlands and the Antarctic Peninsula, then all the way to the Drake Passage and back to Ushuaia.
Apart from the three routes mentioned above, you can also start your journey to Antarctica from South Island in New Zealand or explore the eastern part of the region. You can even fly directly to the South Pole and earn some bragging rights to rub elbows with the world’s best researchers and explorers.
It is unquestionable when people say that Antarctica is a dream destination because of the breathtaking scenery and indescribable experiences that are often seen only in books or heard in stories. Perhaps, it is about time for you to make a life-changing decision and consider Antarctica as your next travel destination. When it comes to achieving your dreams, there is no time to lose so start preparing for an adventure of a lifetime.