Antarctica - Best Tours & Trips 2019
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Relaxed A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers.
Full on For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included.
Mixed You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included.
Group Tour Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Small Group Tour Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
River Cruise These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Small Ship Cruise Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Private Guided Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Self Guided / Independent Tour A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Vacation / Holiday Package Similar to a self guided tour, this usually involves a home base, such as a hotel or resort, with packaged activities and day tours as a part of the stay.
Large Ship Cruise This is the "floating city" experience, with multiple ways to enjoy your vacation aboard the ship as much as on land. Ships are multiple floors, provide several activities, culinary, and shopping options. They often make fewer stops and have less time available for shore excursions.
Camping Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Basic - 2 star You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Value - 3 star Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Premium - 4 star 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Luxury - 5 star The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.
Price Per Day
Very Easy Minimal walking - motor vehicles available for all major parts of trip.
Easy Normal generally flat walking in urban or suburban environments.
Moderate Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment.
Strenuous All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included.
Extreme Very challenging all day hiking and backpacking carrying significant equipment.
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Rivers & Seas
Cities & Attractions
Good for Singles Trips that specifically cater to travelers looking to meet other singles.
No Single Supplement Trips where single supplement is usually not required for solo travelers.
Flights & Transport
Continents & Regions
Stride Gives Back Stride Gives Back This trip visits a destination impacted by climate change. When you opt in to the Stride Gives Back program, we will donate 10% of our net revenue to organizations that help mitigate climate change in these destinations and across the globe. Learn more
Impacted by Climate Change
- Spend six full days exploring the antarctic peninsula and south shetland islands
- Conquer the notorious drake passage
- Learn from polar experts about the wonders of the antarctic region
- Come face-to-face with amazing polar wildlife
- Marvel at immense icebergs
- Spend time on deck watching soaring albatross
- Ushuaia – The starting point of your expedition cruise to Antarctica, this busy Argentine port city is the southernmost city in the world and a stunning place to spend a night at the start and end of your cruise to the Antarctic Peninsula
- Beagle Channel – Set sail along the famous Beagle Channel and scenic Mackinlay Pass from Ushuaia as you begin your Antarctic adventure, passing by spectacular snow-capped peaks and colonies of penguins and fur seals gathered on rocky outcrops
- Drake Passage – A historically challenging channel of water which marks the location of the Antarctic Convergence, where the warmer waters of the north meet the cold polar waters of the south resulting in incredible biodiversity of marine life
- The South Shetland Islands – A crucial stop on any Antarctic expedition, this spectacular archipelago is made up of islands, islets and rock outcrops, each with their own population of penguins and seals with plenty of opportunity to spot marine life offshore too
- Antarctic Peninsula – The northernmost point of the continent and a spectacular location for a shore landing with jagged mountain peaks, glaciers and an abundance of wildlife
- Explore Buenos Aires City Tour
- Navigate the Beagle Channel
- Cross the Drake Passage
- Traverse Cape Horn
- See the spectacular South Shetland Islands
- Explorations by Zodiac (Small Boat)
- Antarctic Peninsula is known for its scenic beauty and large population of Humpback Whales
- Explore Drake Passag get close to Penguins & Seals
- Hear the Roar of the Glaciers
- Visit Yankee Harbour, an inner harbor on Greenwich Island
- Emperor Penguin
- The wildlife is remarkably abundant in this extreme environment. scan the seas for seals; look out for minke, humpback and orca whales; spot rare birds on the beagle channel; and witness gentoo, adelie and chinstrap penguins on daily boat trips
- The spectacular terrain of antarctica is like nowhere else on earth. set foot on the unique plains, mountains and beaches of the white continent and watch icebergs calve into the sea
- A polar plunge in antarctic waters is like nothing else. this is sure to be one of the most invigorating swims you will ever take
- Additional optional excursions allow you to see this continent from many perspectives. explore by sea kayak, or take to the snow in snowshoes for an extended hike over the icy terrain (be sure to book early)
- Arrival into Buenos Aires
- Fly to Ushuaia, afternoon city tour and hiking
- Hiking and kayaking in Tierra del Fuego National Park.
- Free morning, embarkation and departure for DrakePassage
- On-board amenities and lectures view from deck, Antarctic Convergence
- Sail south of the Antarctic Circle, Zodiak excursions to Neko Harbor, Wilhelmina Bay or Petermann Island, Half Moon island
- On-board amenities and lectures, views from deck, Antarctic Convergence,Cape Horn
- Arrival in Ushuaia and flight to Buenos Aires
- Buenos Aires city tour + room for day use
- Discover the fascinating history of the Falkland Islands
- Explore South Georgia, with its remarkable history and spectacular wildlife
- Visit the stunning Antarctic Peninsula
- Incredible wildlife viewing including seabirds, penguins, seals and whales
- Travel on a small expedition vessel
- Accompanied by extremely qualified Expedition Staff
- Auckland & Campbell Teals; King
- Southern Rockhopper
- Yellow-eyed & Little Penguins; Wilson’s
- Grey-backed & Black-bellied Storm Petrels; Wandering
- Southern Royal
- Northern Royal
- Grey-headed & Buller’s Albatrosses; Mottled
- White-headed & White-chinned Petrels; Sooty Shearwater; Campbell
- Macquarie & Auckland Shags; South Island & Variable Oystercatchers; Subantarctic & Snares Snipes; White-fronted Tern; Red-crowned Parakeet; New Zealand Bellbird; Tomtit; New Zealand Fernbird; New Zealand Pipit.
- Explore Antarctica Experience Antarctic Peninsula watching a nice variety of Gentoo Penguins, Chinstraps and southern Giant Petrels, as well as Elephant Seals
- Opportunity to sail across the Drake Passage
- Enjoy Sailing north again through Neumayer Channel and Gerlache Strait
- Enjoy sail across the Drake Passage and see different kinds of Albatrosses
- See Humpback Whales and Minke Whales
- Explore South Shetland Islands
- Watch seabirds while crossing the Drake Passage
- First class scientific lectures
- Come ashore on isolated beaches and spend the night in a tent
- Cross the Antarctic Circle at latitude 66° 33’ 39’’
- See penguins, Leopard seals and whales
- View magnificent mountains, towering icebergs, and ice formations that make up the dramatic Antarctic landscape.
- Cruise aboard sturdy Zodiac landing craft in search of leopard seals.
- Kayak in protected waters, paddling around icebergs as penguins swim nearby.
- Walk on shore amid thousands of penguins, including gentoo, Adélie, and chinstrap.
- Explore the world's last great wilderness in the company of a team of top naturalists.
- Spend seven full days exploring the antarctic peninsula
- Go farther south than most have ever gone
- Spend time on deck searching for whales and watching soaring albatross
- Get up close and personal with a variety of penguin species
- Discover the intricacies of the antarctic region through our on-board lecture program
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Top Antarctica Experiences
Stepping out of your Zodiac and setting foot on the world’s most remote continent, something only a tiny percentage of people worldwide can claim.
Spotting a humpback or minke whale breaching a few hundred yards from the deck of your ship.
Marveling at the aggressive tactics of elephant seals and fur seals during mating season on South Georgia Island.
Kayaking through near-frozen waters, making sure to steer clear of passing icebergs.
Visiting one of the Antarctic research bases staffed by scientists from around the world.
Standing on your expedition cruise ship’s deck after dark, basking in the solitude of the world’s
Training your lens on an albatross as it soars overhead while en route to Antarctica.
Trekking, skiing or just going for a walk across a vast white landscape.
Antarctica Trip Reviews
90 Antarctica Tour Reviews - Summary 100% Recommend
Antarctica Tours and Travel Guide
Antarctica Attractions & Landmarks Guide
Ever since Lars-Eric Lindblad built the first expedition-style cruise ship to take passengers to visit Antarctica in 1969, adventurous travelers have aspired to follow in their wake. Today about 40 vessels – mostly expedition-style vessels but some yachts as well -- make the run to the White Continent, leaving primarily from Argentina or the Falkland Islands, carrying as few as six and as many as 500 passengers.
Most of the Antarctic-bound ships, though, carry fewer than 100 passengers. Visitors go in search of the last real wilderness on earth, whose sole permanent residents are penguins, whales, seals, albatrosses and other abundant marine and bird life.
Besides the stunning array of wildlife, you’ll see glaciers, snow-covered mountains, icebergs, and, on some tours, historic sites (such as early Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton’s huts) and perhaps one of the 20 scientific research stations that have welcomed visitors since 1969.
The most common destinations on sea tours leaving from South America are the Antarctic Peninsula, the South Shetland Islands, South Georgia Island, and the Falkland Islands -- all havens for wildlife. (The latter two are not part of Antarctica.) The primary destination in Antarctica itself is the Antarctic Peninsula, which juts up from the rest of the mainland and is closest to South America.
A few icebreakers challenge the often frozen Weddell Sea in search of emperor penguins to the peninsula’s east. And some ships make the journey from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa to the Ross Sea on the other side of the continent; emperor penguin colonies are accessible from there by helicopter.
While some 100 tourist sites have seen landings in Antarctica over the years, fewer than 10 receive the bulk of the visitors. Port Lockroy, site of the British Antarctic Survey, is the most visited site, drawing more than 10,000 visitors per year. Passengers board Zodiacs (rubberized rafts) to go ashore, with most ships making one to three landings per day on the mainland.
Protecting the Ecosystem
Strict standards Antarctic tour operators must follow strict environmental protection guidelines mandated by the international Antarctic Treaty as well as the voluntary guidelines of the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO); all itineraries must be approved in advance so they don’t harm the wildlife or the fragile ecosystem.
The Antarctic tourist season runs from late October or early November to March or early April, the summer months when the waters off Antarctica are comparatively ice free. The earlier months bring penguin and elephant seal courtship rituals, while the later months see the birth of penguin chicks and seal pups. By March the adult penguins are mostly headed out to sea, but whale and seal sightings increase. December and January bring the most daylight hours, prime time for photographers.
With so many variables in itineraries, vessels, levels of luxury, price, and trip lengths to wrestle with, it makes sense to let Stride help you sort through all the possibilities. And sooner than you may think, you can experience the same wonders that have captivated polar explorers for more than a century.
Travel to Antarctica: Before you go
Warning: obvious statement ahead. It gets cold! So pack very warmly. Consider thermal undergarments, and breathable layers. Some excursions will involve being out on the water among icebergs, so also consider waterproof outer-layers. Cold can be alarmingly disorienting, so if you get cold easily, talk to your doctor about any precautionary measures or tips they recommend.
You may also want to consider any anti seasickness measures. Waters can be unpredictable, and you’ll be spending a lot of time aboard ship. Some tips to keep in mind: eat lot’s of crystallized ginger! Dramamine is also extremely effective for some. Talk with a doctor to figure out what will work best for you.
Antarctica does not have a governing body, and no permanent residents. All visitors, whether business or pleasure, are temporary. For this reason, you only need to ensure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months prior to your trip. No visa is required if you plan to stay less than 90 days.
Safety Considerations When Traveling to Antarctica
Keep in mind is that there are no public hospitals, pharmacies, or doctors offices in Antarctica. If you get sick or hurt, you will be relying on your cruise’s available resources, which while sufficient for normal ailments, will be minimal for anything extreme.
As mentioned above, be prepared for the cold and bring any anti seasick measures.
As highlighted by the CDC, you will be traveling with people from all over the world, in close quarters, and for an extended period of time. The risk of influenza, measles, and mumps is increased because of this, so especially for older travelers and children it will be important to ensure you are up to date on all these vaccines.
All Antarctica small ship and expedition cruises and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages. Average rating of 4.8 for all Antarctica trips.