Antarctica Travel Guide for Your Trip-of-a-Lifetime

by Wanderful Team

This Antarctica travel guide was created for all our Wanderful women and allies taking this adventurous journey! Wanderful partnered with Intrepid Travel to bring 100 Wanderful women and allies aboard an 11-day journey around this magical landscape.

While some of the details in this guide are specific to our journey, there is also ample information for any Antarctica traveler!

Traveling to Antarctica is no simple feat. While there are a variety of options for cruises, solo travel is virtually impossible and land-based adventures are rare.

Our Antarctica trip with the fabulous folks at Intrepid Travel, who are experts in adventure group travel and polar expeditions, provides a responsible way to travel.

Interested in joining our Antarctica adventure? Book your spot now!

Intrepid Travel has been taking folks to Antarctica for years — to massive praise and approval. As one solo female traveler wrote “If Antarctica is a dream of yours, make it happen as soon as possible. It is truly the journey of a lifetime. You’ll leave the white continent feeling fulfilled, accomplished, in awe of our planet, and with a special bond to the special souls that accompanied you.”

If that’s not enough of a ringing endorsement, then read on to learn what you can see and do an epic adventure to Antarctica.

Antarctica Travel Guide

Travel to Antarctica is highly restricted due to its remote nature and multi-national agreements. Since Antarctica is not owned by any nation, it is instead governed by treaties. Traveling to Antarctica is therefore only done with authorized companies and responsible guides.

This Wanderful Antarctica trip will be departing on 11 January 2023. Yes, the trip is booked TWO years out! 

The reason for such advance planning is, primarily, due to the costs involved. Wanderful wants as many community members and allies to join us as possible, so we scheduled a full two years to try to help folks plan their budget as best they can. 

The trip will take place on Intrepid’s 200-seat Ocean Endeavour, with 100 spots reserved for Wanderful friends, family (over age 15), and community from around the world. 

Wanderful travelers will also benefit from special community activities while onboard and — as we lead up to the trip — we’ll help you get ready, meet travel buddies, and save for this unique journey.

Antarctica trip Wanderful and Intrepid details

If you’ve been dreaming of visiting Antarctica, now is the time. Wanderful and Intrepid Travel are offering the trip-of-a-lifetime! Here is the full Antarctica itinerary…

Day 1: Ushuaia, Argentina

Our travel to Antarctica actually begins in Ushuaia, Argentina, which is the world’s southernmost city. Often called “the end of the world” Ushuaia will host you on your first night and you will be briefed at the hotel to prepare for embarkation the next day.

Day 2: Ushuaia – Embarkation Day

We will board the Ocean Endeavour, settle into our cabins, and begin cruising down the stunning Beagle Channel, named for Charles Darwin’s ship. The channel transects the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in the extreme south of South America. As the ship pulls away from the port, there’s always an air of anticipation! 

Wave goodbye to Argentina, knowing that the next time you see land, you’ll be staring at The White Continent herself.

Days 3-4: Drake Passage

The time has come to cross the Drake Passage, the legendary body of water named after English explorer Sir Francis Drake.

If the conditions are right, enjoy some time out on deck to spot dolphins, orcas or perhaps albatross. Or take advantage of the Ocean Endeavour’s fantastic facilities, including a heated saltwater pool, saunas, gym, library, and yoga classes all available. 

Safety briefings and a comprehensive lecture program occur throughout the journey, delivered by experts in Antarctica’s history, geology, and biology. 

Note that the Drake Passage can be rough at times, so anyone prone to seasickness may want to take precautionary measures. This passage can change dramatically, even called Drake Lake when it’s calm and smooth.

Rough waters aren’t reason enough to avoid this adventure – you may have very smooth sailing all the way through! And the Ocean Endeavour is well-equipped for maintaining balance and calm.

view over the bow of a ship on a trip to Antarctica

Days 5-8: Antarctic Peninsula

Once the Antarctic Convergence is left in your wake, we will begin our four incredible days of exploring the Antarctic Peninsula. 

From the landscape to the wildlife, from the adventurous activities to the educational opportunities…these four days will inevitably be life-changing! 

Days 9-10: At Sea

The return journey to Ushuaia will be filled with moments of sharing photographs with fellow travelers, continuing your wildlife spotting, and enjoying the final lectures from your polar experts. You can also bask in the benefits of this beautiful vessel, maximizing your time at sea with utter relaxation.

Day 11: Ushuaia – Disembarkation Day

Bid farewell to your new friends and carry these incredible memories away with you. Whether you head straight home or extend your journey around Tierra del Fuego or beyond, Ushuaia is your final port of call after an Antarctica adventure!

Best Time to Travel to Antarctica

Travel to Antarctica can only be done during the summer months, which are the winter months for the northern hemisphere. The sailing season for Antarctica begins at the end of October, though the peak season is December and January.

January is the warmest month in Antarctica, which is also — technically — a desert! Because Antarctica receives such little rainfall each year, it is actually a desert. 

During the peak season, you can expect around 20 hours of daylight. Temperatures are at their highest, but don’t expect summer warmth! You can expect -5 to 5℃ (23 – 41℉) for this time of year. 

Antarctica travel option - Ocean Endeavour ship with Intrepid Travel and Wanderful

Since this is the best weather time in Antarctica, you can also expect to see the highest number of visitors. While travel to Antarctica is fairly restricted, there will still likely be other ships out and about during these peak months. While this shouldn’t impede your adventure, you should still know the likelihood of seeing other vessels. 

Wildlife sightings can change based on the time of your visit as well. Migrations and mating affect what you might see at any given time. February and March, for example, are actually best for whale watching, with humpback and sperm whales quite common, in addition to orcas.

Antarctica Travel Cost

Antarctica travel is not cheap. Due to its remoteness and the inevitable costs involved with such a trip, this journey is — understandably — considered to be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. 

Costs range based on the amenities of your expedition. For the most basic of Antarctica travel options, you can expect to pay at least $5,000. For more mid-range trips, these costs are typically around $9,000 – $13,000. 

The costs reflect the unique nature of this journey. Consider the following unusual aspects:

  • Antarctica is most commonly reached by a charter flight to King George Island or a 2-day ship crossing from Argentina
  • A ship undertaking such a challenging journey requires a large, professional crew
  • A journey to Antarctica is highly restricted to preserve the delicate ecosystem there
  • The ships allowed to sail through this challenging area must be equipped for the various natural obstacles, including having ice-breaking capacity

Additional costs you need to consider for your Antarctica travel include your international flights, which need to include flights to Ushuaia for this particular itinerary.

Intrepid Travel Wanderful ship Ocean Endeavor at sea

Your costs are inclusive of your accommodations and meals, plus all educational opportunities and most excursions. Additional excursions you might opt to include, as well as drinks, will be charged separately. 

Also remember to budget for tips for the hardworking crew! While optional, gratuity is considered to be standard for such an adventure.

Intrepid offers a suggestion of $13 – $15 per day for the ship’s crew and hospitality staff, plus $3 – $5 per day for your expedition team. The actual amounts are, of course, up to your discretion.

Things to Do in Antarctica

Travel to Antarctica can include a wide variety of experiences that are unique to this incredible landscape and location. While you can kayak and swim anywhere in the world, doing so around the Antarctica Peninsula is a rare feat!

Here are some of the top things to do in Antarctica during your trip…  

Wildlife Encounters

Wildlife encounters in Antarctica are a massive draw to such a remote location. Similarly to the Galapagos Islands, the wildlife in Antarctica don’t tend to fear human interaction.

This can lead to some awe-inspiring moments of being in close proximity.

It is very important to note that you must keep a respectful distance. A general rule is to stay at least 5 meters/15 feet away from any birds, seals, or other wildlife.

Try to keep noise to a minimum so as not to disturb their natural environment. And take care not to surround any animals – be aware of the others in your group in relation to the wildlife.

Some animals you might encounter in Antarctica include up to 7 species of penguin, up to 6 species of seal, up to 7 species of whale, and countless birds. Keep an eye out for the notable albatross! Take a look at the wildlife you might spot right here.

icebergs seen during Antarctica travel

Landscape Wonders

Antarctica travel is focused around the astounding views and landscape of the Great White Continent. You will enjoy stunning vistas from the ship and from your zodiac, as well as many opportunities to explore the landscape itself.

Exact landing sites will be based upon the weather and other conditions of the day. 

As a nearly pristine environment, Antarctica must be protected so these views can be enjoyed by future generations as well.

Any time you will explore on land, you will wear special boots. These are provided for you and will be decontaminated after every excursion to avoid cross-contaminating seeds, plants, soil, or bacteria between locations.

Of course, global rules of leaving no trace and taking no souvenir apply here, too. Never leave anything behind, including engraving anything into rocks. And never take anything with you — leave it exactly as you found it. 

Finally, take care where you place your feet, including your tripod feet! Some rocks on the Antarctica Peninsula are covered in moss or lichen that is delicate and takes years to grow. 

On-Board Learning

A key element of traveling to Antarctica is learning more about this incredible continent. On board the ship, you can partake in a wide variety of lectures on topics ranging from wildlife to glaciers and more. These learning sessions enhance your experience and help you truly maximize this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Kayaking Adventures

Kayaking is an optional excursion that could possibly get you up close and personal with wildlife. It’s also a great way to be active while on the water! Overall, a trip to Antarctica does not require a high fitness level. Adding a kayak adventure can get your blood flowing and warm you up a bit!

kayakers admiring glaciers during an Antarctica trip with Intrepid Travel and Wanderful

Polar Snowshoeing

Another optional excursion you can pre-book is a polar snowshoe adventure. If you love hiking and have a moderate level of fitness, this is a fantastic way to explore more and really delve into the landscape here on The White Continent. 

Zodiac Boating

Any time you leave the ship for an excursion, you will be heading out on a zodiac. These sturdy inflatable boats carry small groups for better flexibility and maneuverability. You’ll have great adventures via these expeditions!

Take the Polar Plunge!

You might have done a polar plunge on New Year’s Day before. But there’s nothing quite like jumping into the freezing cold sea around Antarctica, surrounded by glaciers and icebergs! Take the real polar plunge and prove to yourself just how brave you can be.

Extending Your Trip

On top of all the amazing things you can do while traveling to Antarctica, you can also take advantage of ending up at the end of the world. Ushuaia is often referred to as the end of the world as the world’s southernmost city. Before or after your adventure to Antarctica, you can opt to extend your trip and explore the region.

Easy access to the stunning Tierra del Fuego should certainly be tempting. With ample outdoor adventures to enjoy, this stunning landscape makes the long international flights well worthwhile.

If all else fails, this is the land of amazing red wine and steak! Get your fill before heading back home to tell everyone about your incredible adventures.

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