Antarctica Cruise Travel Guide

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Traveling to Antarctica is one of the most exhilarating trips you will ever take. Although it is expensive, it is truly spectacular and it's something that you and your traveling companions will never forget. In this article, you'll get an overview on what to think about when planning a trip to Antarctica, along with some steers in the right direction to continue your research.

Antarctica Travel Photos
Antarctica Travel Photos

1 : Choose the right time to visit

Antarctica's tour season covers about five months, mostly over the Southern Hemisphere summer (November to March). All other times of the year are extremely cold, dark, and the pack ice freezes out a long way. Be aware that while there will be less people around later in the season, much of the wildlife will already have left for the sea. During these months, some of the things you can expect include:

Antarctica Travel Photos
Antarctica Travel Photos

2 : Expect a large hole in your budget

This is one travel destination where budget travel is not much of an option unless you're hired to work hard. At a minimum, you will probably be facing at least US$5,000 and that is for the bare necessities and not necessarily the best seating or opportunities.

Antarctica Travel Photos
Antarctica Travel Photos

3 : Decide how you'd like to travel to Antarctica

Most visitors to Antarctica travel by ship, with a few intrepid travelers taking yachts across. Each option has its benefits and drawbacks but none of them will save you many pennies, so it really comes down to preferences on comfort, shore visits, and other amenities offered by the tour organizations in question. Most voyages to the Antarctic Peninsular region leave from Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego in Argentina, Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands and a few leave from Punta Arenas in Chile, Buenos Aires in Argentina, or Puerto Madryn in Argentina. There are also voyages on ice breakers and sometimes using helicopters for tourists that visit the Weddell Sea, Ross Sea region and East Antarctica on occasion, to see Emperor penguin colonies, historic huts, the Dry Valleys, etc. These voyages leave from places such as Bluff or Lyttleton in New Zealand, Hobart or Fremantle in Australia, or Cape Town or Port Elizabeth in South Africa. The best way to find ship options is to visit the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) at http://www.iaato.org and to look at its "membership directory".

Antarctica Travel Photos
Antarctica Travel Photos

Antarctica Travel Photos
Antarctica Travel Photos

4 : Consider air travel

There are various companies that fly to Antarctica, from Punta Arenas in Chile; from Cape Town in South Africa, and from Qantas in Australia.[6] Some flights are simply fly overs and you can see Antarctica from the air, while some are fly-cruise options. Other flights fly straight into Antarctica and you get to stay at the base or camp set up just for the tourism purposes. Be aware that flights are subject to cancellations due to weather and other safety issues. The best approach to assessing flight options is to read guidebooks written specifically for Antarctica, or check the Lonely Planet site, as the details change yearly depending on availability and interest, etc. As with the voyages, the one thing you can expect again is to pay a considerable amount!

Antarctica Travel Photos
Antarctica Travel Photos

5: If making shore expeditions, prepare well

Shore visits tend to be short in duration (around 3 hours or less) and will always be accompanied by a guide unless you've made a private expedition.

Antarctica Travel Photos
Antarctica Travel Photos

6 : Understand the health and safety issues

The Antarctic environment is dangerous for human beings. The weather is extremely changeable and it is always cold, even in the summertime (highs in the summer along the coast generally range from 41-56oF). There are dangers such as crevasses on ice fields and glaciers and fire hazards are high in the very dry environment, so handling anything flammable must be done with care.

There are no vaccination requirements for Antarctica but you should be fit and in good health because medical treatment will be basic and spread thin among all your passengers. Any medical conditions that you do have should be detailed by your doctor in letter form, especially if you need to bring along medication.

Antarctica Travel Photos
Antarctica Travel Photos

7 : Respect the fragility of the Antarctic environment

The Antarctic environment is fragile and apart from expeditions, bases, and some tourists, there has been little human change. Wildlife remains unafraid of humans because of the lack of long-term negative interaction. It is important to respect the pristine nature of Antarctica and to ensure that tourism doesn't have a negative impact. There are Visitor Guidelines adopted under the Antarctic Treaty that regulate visitors' actions at Antarctica and it is worth reading them as part of your preparation for the visit. Some of the basics to keep in mind include:

Antarctica Travel Photos
Antarctica Travel Photos

8: Enjoy your trip of a lifetime

This is one of those trips that people who take it can never forget or stop talking about. If you love pristine beauty, amazing sights, incredible wildlife opportunities, and you don't mind a bit of cold, this might be the perfect trip that will create a lifetime memory.

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