Laura Pattara | 9 October 2017
Is it possible to travel to Antarctica, the most inhospitable place on earth? Well, it’s not only possible. It’s totally unforgettable!
The southernmost continent on our planet is still the most enigmatic, by far. Inhospitable and awe-inspiring all at once, Antarctica has fascinated man ever since seafaring explorers accidentally headed further south than ever before and didn’t sail right off the edge of the earth.
Days spent exploring Antarctica are always full of surprises
Travelling to Antarctica has certainly become a popular bucket-list contender nowadays although tourism there has been going strong – relatively speaking – since the 1960s, when the first tourist-laden expedition ships started arriving in the White Continent. Scenic flight tourism started from Australia and New Zealand shortly thereafter and travel to Antarctica has now become a very viable option from several base points the world over.
So the question isn’t if you can travel to Antarctica. Of course you can!
The question is are you ready to be completely overwhelmed by an unforgettable adventure to the spectacular ends of the earth?
Antarctica: where magnificent nature awaits
Travel to Antarctica by expedition ship
The most popular and most economical way to visit Antarctica is by flying to Ushuaia, Argentina, at the southern tip Patagonia, and boarding an expedition ship from there. Reaching the southern reaches of Latin America may seem like a daunting task but do note that Ushuaia is one of Argentina’s most popular tourist hubs and there are daily flights connecting passengers from the country’s main cities, including, Buenos Aires, naturally.
This is what makes a cruise to Antarctica a genius addition to any tour of Argentina, or South America in general. Once in Buenos Aires…you’re almost there! If planning to visit the country solely to travel to Antarctica, we suggest you spend at least 1 night in Buenos Aires, or more if you can fit it in. Jetlag and the sheer volume of attractions to soak up in the capital make for wonderful acclimatization and flight recovery. Antarctica cruise durations from Ushuaia range between 10 and 22 days, depending on included stop-overs such as the historic and stunning Falkland Islands and wildlife-enriched island of South Georgia.
There are no fancy hotels or restaurants in Antarctica. But the Penguin welcome-party is out of this world
If your tour of South America includes travels to Chile, then your Antarctica travel option if to take a flight + cruise combo trip from Punta Arenas, Chile, instead. With this option, you take a flight from Punta Arenas – lovely city on the shores of the Strait of Magellan – to Antarctica destinations like the Falklands and South Georgia Island, and board an expedition ship from there. This option suits those who are heading to the continent to explore Chile and those with a little less time for an Antarctica cruise, as journeys start from as little as 6 days.
The ‘big daddy of Antarctica cruising’ as we like to call it, is the option to cruise to the southern icy wonderland from New Zealand or Australia. Cruises from our neck of the woods last longer and are more expensive but the fact that they offer an unparalleled experience to a lesser-visited part of the continent, attracts sailors in great numbers. Cruises from Australia and New Zealand are fewer than from South America and they book out extremely fast. Duration is between 3 and 4 weeks, and the destination is the eastern side of Antarctica, where you’ll encounter the biggest icebergs of all and the least number of fellow tourist ships. The enticement, for many, is worth the extra expense. These are true-blue Antarctic expeditions, aboard less-fancy ships and offering more days at sea and a far greater ‘old-world explorer’ experience. Cruises from Australia depart from Hobart whilst in New Zealand, the port of call is Invercargill.
An expedition cruise to Antarctica is unlike any trip you’ve ever taken
Another unique and rather incredible option is that of scenic flights from Australia. Imagine boarding a plane in either Sydney, Melbourne or Perth and, after a few hours, casting your eyes on the glistening white expense of the Ross Ice Shelf in eastern Antarctica. Seats on privately-chartered 747s are offered only a handful of time during the summer and can be regarded as cheap, or expensive, depending on your point of you.
There’s no denying that sightseeing flights to Antarctica from Australia are ideal if you are very short on time, elderly, detest being at sea or suffer from mobility issues. This may well be the only chance you have of at least seeing Antarctica with your own eyes. For that, it is certainly a cheap option. On the other hand, spending $1,000 on a one-day Antarctica excursion – and never even landing on the continent – can be a steep price to pay for someone who craves more.
A bird’s eye view of Antarctica. Spellbinding.
When can you travel to Antarctica?
Antarctica may be an easy travel destination to reach nowadays, but that doesn’t mean you can visit at any time. Antarctica tourist season, better known as ice-melt season, is between November and March, which is when ice melt allows for deeper exploration by ship, the sun never really fully sets and daytime temperatures stay well above freezing, most of the time.
At Viva Expeditions, we offer some of the most unique, awe-inspiring and invigorating Antarctica tours available. So come meet Emperor Penguins, lazy sea lions and inquisitive seals and whales, and come discover for yourself how soul-reviving endless white horizons can really be. The most beautiful continent on earth awaits. Contact us for more info.