Visiting Antarctica is, unsurprisingly, a long-term bucket list contender for many a traveller. Following in the footsteps of the great explorers to encounter lands seen by so few delivers an experience quite unlike any other, as you set foot on the great White Continent and absorb the otherworldly serenity and astounding beauty of this remarkable place. And, while the prospect of the travel involved might have previously deterred some from embarking upon this great journey, the good news is that there are now more options than ever before for reaching one of the world’s most astounding natural wonders. So – how to get to Antarctica?
CLASSIC ANTARCTICA CRUISE
Flying to South America and taking an expedition cruise is still one of the best value and most iconic ways to reach Antarctica. Departing from Ushuaia in Argentina, these expedition cruises usually involve a two-day crossing of the Drake Passage – the legendary stretch of water extending from Cape Horn in Patagonia to the South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula.
While tales of the Drake Passage’s notoriously rough seas abound, modern expedition ships are well-equipped to handle the waters – you may even find your crossing takes place during a period of calm known as the ‘Drake Lake’. Regardless of whether you encounter the Drake Lake, the Drake Shake or something in between, crossing this notorious stretch of water and eventually emerging on deck to catch a memorable glimpse of the first iceberg in sight is something that adds an unforgettable dimension to your voyage. On board lectures covering the intrepid expeditions of Amundsen, Shackleton and Scott will hold all the more resonance once you have experienced the crossing for yourself.
For those who really would prefer to avoid the unpredictability of the Drake Passage – or who have stricter time constraints – there is now an excellent choice of operators who offer the option to fly over the Drake and begin their Antarctica cruise from King George Island. A comfortable two-hour flight from Punta Arenas in Chile whisks you down to the South Shetland Islands where you will begin a memorable cruise around the calmer waters of the Antarctic Peninsula.
As with the classic cruise option, no compromises have to be made on comfort as a good number of luxury Antarctic cruise options are now available, featuring spacious cabins, private balconies and even spa facilities.
ANTARCTICA BY JET PLANE
For those seeking a once-in-a-lifetime experience from dry land, there is another exclusive way to visit Antarctica. The opportunity to base yourself on land in Antarctica, in one of White Desert’s blissfully luxurious Polar camps. A five-hour flight from Cape Town South Africa on a comfortable, full-service jet brings a small number of lucky guests to Wolf’s Fang Runway in the north of continental Antarctica.
From here you will continue on, to either the safari style pods of White Desert’s flagship Whichaway Camp or to the space-age sky pods of Echo Camp. Each camp has its own special draw which our destination experts can explain to you in greater depth, but both share the utmost in creature comforts, magnificent views, cosy communal lounges and gourmet meals prepared by the camp’s private chefs. The amount of the time you spend in Antarctica is up to you, with itinerary options ranging from one to eight days, and extensions available for you to visit the geographic South Pole.
HOW TO GET TO ANTARCTICA SUSTAINABLY
Questions will always be asked about which is the most sustainable way to visit Antarctica. This is why Red Savannah only work with operators who are members of the IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators). Members must strictly adhere to the principles of the Antarctic Treaty including its Environmental Protocol, which sets out an unequivocal commitment to the protection of the Antarctic environment and its associated ecosystems. On a practical level, this includes regulations on the maximum number of visitors permitted to be ashore on landing sites at any given time, the type of fuel cruise ships are permitted to use and protocol on the responsible viewing of wildlife and birds.