Modern Antarctic travel may be easier and more comfortable than ever before but remains every bit an adventure. The intense thrill of the unknown as you set sail from the tip of South America towards the planet’s frozen extremes is only the start of what is probably the planet's most powerful and humbling travel experience.
A new generation of smart expedition vessels offering en-suite cabins and attractive surroundings is gradually superseding the Russian-built research ships which pioneered modern-day Antarctic cruise expeditions. But the emphasis remains low key: most carry fewer than 100 passengers and, being members of IAATO, are committed to leaving as little impact as possible.
Expeditions to Antarctica run between October and March and you can choose from an expanding variety of expedition routes. You’ll need ten days for the classic journey to the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands. A few departures each season push further south, attempting to cross the Antarctic Circle, while others head for the tabular icebergs of the Weddell Sea. With three weeks to spare, you can wander amid magnificent King penguin rookeries of South Georgia and drop anchor at the quirkily familiar Falkland Islands. In a month you could sail from Tierra del Fuego to New Zealand via the Ross Sea – perhaps the ultimate in Antarctic travel. At the other extreme, those short of time can fly over the 2-day churn of the Drake Passage in a couple of hours, board a boat on King George Island, and be back in South America within a week.
Thankfully, such are the challenges of exploring Antarctica most expeditions barely scratch the surface of this pristine continent. Where you go, when, and in what order is ultimately at the mercy of nature. Itineraries are for guidance only and there are no guarantees. The on-board camaraderie among passengers and crew as the unexpected happens can be an especially powerful aspect of Antarctic travel. Whether it’s the euphoria of witnessing a whale breaching in an iceberg-choked channel or the dash to get back on board in the biting cold of a sudden blizzard – it’s all part of a shared adventure.
At Journey Latin America, ten of us have been privileged to visit Antarctica. We are ready to share our experiences, answer your questions and plan your expedition of a lifetime.