Antarctica is not a destination reserved for adventurers or scientists anymore. There are different options for all tastes, although not for all budgets, to spend from weeks to a few hours in the coldest end of the World. From luxury cruises to sightseeing flights and marathons, here are 6 options to enjoy the most wonderful sceneries on Earth.
The most popular and traditional of all options are the expedition cruises. There are different alternatives that connect Ushuaia or Punta Arenas with the Antarctic Peninsula and its islands. Cruises combine the comfort of an all inclusive holiday on a ship with the adventure of getting on shore to visit penguin colonies, historical places and even research stations.
The great challenge is crossing the Drake Passage, one of the hardest waters in the world. No matter the size of the ship, the force of the waves will make it move and seasickness is very common.
The duration of these trips varies between 8 and 20 days with prizes that go from U$S 4.000 in a regular cabin to U$S 35.000 for a luxurious one with view to the ocean.
These are some of the most selected itineraries:
- Antarctic Peninsula
- Georgia Islands and Antarctic Peninsula
- Antarctic Peninsula, Malvinas Islands and Georgia Islands
- Antarctic Peninsula and the Weddel Sea
For those who are short on time or don’t want to expose themselves to the cold waters of the Southern Ocean, touristic flights are a good option.
Throughout the summer there are regular flights that connect Punta Arenas to the Chilean station Eduardo Frei Montalva on the Antarctic Peninsula and that allow tourists to visit the facilities and admire some penguins, seals and birds. Those willing to stay a second day in Antarctica can spend the night in the station’s lodge and use the next day to visit other stations on the continent.
From the other end of the world, there are flights that depart from Sidney or Melbourne, in Australia, and fly over the continent at an altitude of 10.000 feet. During the 12 hour flight it is possible to enjoy the Antarctic landscape from the sky while travelling over the frozen sea, the Transantarctic Mountains, going over the Magnetic South Pole and flying over research stations.
Prizes for these sightseeing flights vary between U$S 1.000 and U$S 7.000, while visits to the Antarctic Peninsula range from U$S 4.000 to U$S 5.000.
Fly and Cruise
If what you want is to cut your trip short and avoid crossing the Drake Passage, but still enjoy Antarctica from a cruise, you can also fly to Frei Station and board the ship from there. There are several companies that offer this option with the chance to return by plane from there too.
This will allow you to enjoy the best of the white continent avoiding the hardest part of the trip.
A smaller option but at the same time intimate and independent are the trips in smaller private sailboats. Same as the big cruises, they sail from the Argentinean port of Ushuaia and cover the most attractive spots in the Peninsula. They usually last from 10 to 20 days and can carry around 10 passengers.
These ships can also be rented out to make a special itinerary for all the family.
And if there are options to enjoy Antarctica from the sea and the sky, there are also options to do it inland. Every year Glaciar Union’s camp, right at the foot of the Ellsworth Mountains, receives hundreds of adventurers ready to travel across the continent by foot or on skies or fly from it to the South Pole.
Several specialized companies offer transport and support services for those willing to challenge the summit of the highest Antarctic peaks like the Vinson Massif, the tallest mountain in Antarctica, or recreate the first explorers’ expeditions.
Every year, runners from all over the world get to Antarctica to run the coldest and southernmost marathon in the world, the “Ice Marathon”, which finishes in the South Pole.
Working in Antarctica
But if you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford to spend your vacations in Antarctica from the comfort of a cruise, there is always the possibility of going there to work.
Although most job openings are for scientists or military men, several countries and contractors need people to cover seasonal positions during the summer campaigns and in some cases to stay all the year round. Pay attention to your country’s job hunting!