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Top Antarctica Experiences

Seeing Emperor Penguin colonies

Whale watching on a ship

Kayaking around icebergs

Exploring the Antarctic Peninsula

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Top Antarctica Attractions

History tour

Drake Passage cruise

Emperor Penguin colonies

Antarctic Peninsula

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Antarctica Attractions And 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.

Antarctic Peninsula

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.

Visas

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.

Related Guides

Continent:             

Antarctica and the Arctic

Local Attraction:  

Port Lockroy, Drake Passage, Deception Island, Beagle Channel, Antarctic Peninsula and Many More

Top Activities:      

Wildlife Sightseeing, Expedition Cruises & Zodiac Cruises

Similar Destinations:                    

Arctic, Alaska

44
Antarctica Tour Reviews - Summary
100% Recommend

4.8 out of 5
Excellent 32 Great 8 Average 0 Disappointing 0 Terrible 0
Value
4.8 Guide
4.8 Activities
4.8 Lodging
4.8 Transportation
4.8 Meals
4.8

A

Recommends

ANTARCTIC CIRCLE QUEST July 2017

5.0

Antarctic Circle Quest

The trip delivered everything promised - and more.   The scenery and
wildlife were as hoped for and the Zodiacs got us to the right places.  
The programme of talks on passage days and in the evenings were excellent.
  The ship (Ioffe) was better than I expected - comfortable, quiet, well
maintained, and with a helpful crew.
It would be unfair to pick a single moment from so many!   Whale
watching from the Zodiacs?   Sailing up the Lemaire Channel?  
Observing life in a penguin rookery?  Visiting the huts of earlier
explorers?   The variety of sizes, shapes, and colours of the icebergs?
   Entering the harbour at Deception?


Chad was very effective at running the programme, which of necessity had to
be flexible, and keeping us informed.   He was well supported by his
helpers including a number of knowledgeable and approachable experts on the
polar regions and their wildlife.


You will need warm clothing - obvious, but you may be sitting for three hours
in a Zodiac with temperatures around freezing and in a chilling wind.  
Walks ashore are less of a problem.The waterproof clothing and boots supplied
on loan on the Ioffe were of good quality, there is no need to bring your
own.    Take some coloured clips to identify your boots amongst the
90 other pairs!This is a very photogenic trip.   Takes lots of memory,
particularly if you intend shooting movie clips of whales and penguins.The
Ioffe rolls very little because it has effective stabilisers but if you are
prone to seasickness it would be wise take medication for the Drake
Passage. 


I hesitated before booking because of the cost.   I don't regret it
now - it was the right itinerary and the right size and style of ship for
me.If you are a cautious take a spare camera and maybe a portable hard drive
for downloading your camera.   It would be a shame to have a camera
problem and no record of the trip! 


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Operator Exodus Travels

A

Recommends

ANTARCTIC CIRCLE QUEST July 2017

5.0

Antarctic Circle Quest

The scenery was as breath- taking as I expected - if not more so: the animal
life fantastic.  What made the journey was the informative guides, the
high quality food and the friendliness of all concerned.  A fabulous
trip that involved crossing the Antarctic Circle and visiting several
historic sites and preserved huts of past years.
The most outstanding memory is of the orca pod feeding off a whale:
Anoux's beaked whale is rare itself but watching the orca pod surrounding
it, taking chunks to eat and arcing as they did so, is a something I will not
forget.  But this was just one of many fantastic moments.


He, and the whole guide staff were very good.  They were all polar
experts who had personal experiences to talk about and were always happy to
answer questions.  I felt they dealt with the unfortunate incident of
the death of the Japanese lady extremely well and should be commended for
this.


Take twice as much digital card space as you think  you will need -
and then more!  There is so much to film both in stills and on video.


Not really - I would sound as though I was an advert as the trip! It was
such an amazing experience that I cannot do anything else to potential
travellers but - GO!


Read more

Operator Exodus Travels

A

Recommends

ANTARCTIC CIRCLE QUEST July 2017

5.0

Antarctic Circle Quest

An absolutely amazing trip!  It had been a long time coming as I booked
it 18 months previously, but it did not disappoint.
There was so much that was fantastic....the sheer beauty and enormousness
(don’t know if that is a real word) of it all, unspoilt by humans, but
the most inspiring moment was watching an iceberg calve, and then because
its’ centre of gravity had changed, virtually turn over.......and I
think I was the only one sitting there watching it!   And yes,
Paul, I do have photographic evidence!!


Kirsten was professional, and made the best of the weather conditions.


Travelling to Ushuaia is very long and tedious, especially if you are on the
early flight from Gatwick to Madrid (8 hour wait at Madrid), and even if you
have been checked straight through to Ushuaia, you need to collect your
baggage, even if you have the domestic flight from the international terminal
(very confusing....nearly left my luggage at BA airport). 3 days
travelling on board without setting foot on land, can seem a long time, but
there are presentations given by various members of the expedition staff that
give you an insight to the Antarctic region, its wildlife, and history. You
can also go on deck if weather permits, or up to the bridge viewing platforms
to pass the time of day and take pictures of the birdlife, or icebergs on
your journey south.Once you make your first zodiac trip though, everything
previously is forgotten, and take Paul’s advice....don’t have
your viewfinder surgically implanted to your eye, make sure you take stock of
where you are, and enjoy every moment of it.We were lucky with the weather,
and only missed 1 landing, but be prepared that if the weather is bad, you
will not be able to go ashore or do the zodiac cruises, and be prepared for
some ‘iffy’ moments on the zodiacs if the sea is a bit
rough.  It was my first time on zodiacs, and now feels that I could cope
with anything. It didn’t happen to me, but remember the Aerolineas
 Argentinas weight restrictions for hand-luggage; 5kg.  If you can
put your camera equipment in a backpack and have it on your back, they
don’t seem to mind.  Also, leave room in your case/bag for the
Quark Parka.  I wore the inner fleece for flying and packed the outer
shell, but still fairly cumbersome.


Just book it!!  You’ll not regret it.  This was my first
polar trip, but certainly not my last!!


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Operator Exodus Travels

A

Recommends

Antarctica, Falklands & South Georgia July 2017

5.0

Antarctica, Falklands & South Georgia

It was the most wonderful experience and I wouldn't have missed it for the
world. Sheer excitement.
There was more than one inspirational moment and I couldn't choose between
standing amongst thousands and thousands of penguins and/or seals, or the
sheer beauty of the Antarctica's ice bergs floating by.


The expedition leader of this cruise - as well as his crew - was absolutely
fantastic, knowledgeable, helpful, and I couldn't imagine having a better
leader.


Just relax and enjoy and see a part of the world you have never seen before.


It was the most unique experience of all my travels. Simply unforgettable
and worth every single penny. A trip of a lifetime.


Read more

Operator Exodus Travels

A

Recommends

ANTARCTICA, FALKLANDS & SOUTH GEORGIA July 2017

5.0

Antarctica, Falklands & South Georgia

Holiday of a lifetime, which will never be forgotten.  Had an absolutely
amazing time from start to finish. This holiday was beyond our expectations!
King Penguins and their chicks, so funny! Gentoo chicks laying on my
lapUp close and personal (about 8-10 feet away) from humpback whale swimming
towards us - Awesome !Abundant wildlife behaviour to watch and
photographFantastic scenery, weather and itineraryAmazing icebergsWatching
Adelie penguins stealing stones from other nests, and looking so innocent
when caught, just like on 'Frozen Planet' hilarious!Educational
presentations by the Quark staff were so informative and very
helpful, learnt so much.


Shane was brilliant and did everything he could to get us ashore, and
succeeded as we managed 21 landings and zodiac cruises.  At the
briefings he was inspirational in telling us to "put down our cameras
and feel our surroundings, watch the animals, take photos with your
mind", he was so right!  Shane even surprised us with a cruise
round Cape Horn (which was unexpected).


If you thought you might like to do this trip, dont think anymore, DO IT! You
will have a life changing experience. Wildlife in abundance, be on the
first zodiac out and the last one back! Don't be tempted to have
your eyes permanently stuck to the camera lens - just sit and watch it all
happen around you !  Take a tri-stool like we did and just sit
and take it all in.


The remainder of the expedition staff were amazing; Jamie, Tony, Mikolaj and
Damien were so informative, their knowledge was immense and nothing was too
much trouble for them. Angela (our shop assistant and newly qualified zodiac
driver) was great, she was our driver around icebergs and she couldn't do
enough to make our experience as enjoyable as possible; her patience,
kindness and consideration were immense. Krystle was great with her
photographic tips and Val and Solan brilliant for the kayakers. Dave and
Karin were brilliant drivers and full of fun. Last but not least, Duncan who
did so much behind the scenes and whose organisational skills
were greatly appreciated.The crew onboard the ship
were professional, friendly and helpful.  If we did have a
complaint, then it would be that the food was good, but could have
been a bit warmer.


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Operator Exodus Travels

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Things To Know Before You Go

Useful Links

Visa Information

  Visa Needed? Link
US  N (excpetion may exist for transit countries) Visas to Antarctica for United States citizens
UK  N (excpetion may exist for transit countries) Visas to Antarctica for United Kingdom citizens
CA  N (excpetion may exist for transit countries) Visas to Antarctica for Canadian citizens
AU  N (excpetion may exist for transit countries) Visas to Antarctica for Australian citizens
NZ  N (excpetion may exist for transit countries) Visas to Antarctica for New Zealand citizens
IN   Visas to Antarctica for Indian citizens

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