If you're looking for an exciting vacation at the end of the year, now's the time to plan the biggest adventure of your life--to Antarctica! When it's winter in the US, it's summer in Antarctica, which makes it the perfect time to go! Whenever we talk to people about this trip, we get a lot of questions, so, here, in case you're still on the fence, is everything you need to know!
Is it cold?
Well, it's Antarctica, after all. But when we visited, we found that the daytime temperatures were usually hovering just above freezing--32 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit. It was actually slightly warmer in Antarctica than it was in New York at the same time. Of course, temperatures fluctuate and because you'll want to be outdoors as you cruise among the ice floes in a zodiac boat or climb the rocks on shore, you'll need to dress appropriately. We wore rubber boots, hats, gloves and scarves and layers of warm clothes, and we didn't ever feel uncomfortable.
How do we get there?
You can take the bus. (Kidding). It's possible to fly to Antarctica, where you'd meet up with a boat but those trips are rather pricey. Most Antarctica trips leave from Ushuaia, at the southern tip of Argentina. From there, you get on a boat and head south! The crossing of the Drake Passage is notoriously rough, but it's only two days, and some crossings are more choppy than others. If you're prone to seasickness, you should expect to feel the effects, for sure. For us, we didn't get sick at all (even though we had a very rough time of it). But even for those folks who were holed up in their cabins for the passage--I think most of them felt like the incredible experience of going to Antarctica was totally worth a short bout of seasickness. Once you get there, the waters are very, very calm--it's just the over-and-back that can be rough.
Are there hotels in Antarctica?
Nope! You'll need to sleep on board your ship. But the great thing is that there are many different types of ships to take you there. We were on an old Arctic research vessel that had been retrofitted for passengers. It was not your typical cruise experience, by any stretch of the imagination--no casino, no buffet, no Broadway-style shows. But there was a small plunge pool (which we didn't use), a well-stocked bar, and lots and lots of fun. And, if you're on the right boat, you might have an opportunity to camp out on the continent!
Do people live there?
For the most part, no. We made one stop to see an abandoned cabin that had been briefly occupied by one of the earliest explorers. The cold had preserved it remarkably well. And we stopped at a Ukranian research station, where we got a tour of the facility, had a drink at their bar (with homemade vodka made from pure glacial water), but otherwise, you're not going to do any urban exploration, if that's your bag. Save that for a stop-off in Buenos Aires on your way back.
What did you do?
Oh, wow! Where to start! Every day, we did a couple of excursions. Some days, we cruised among the ice floes looking for wildlife. We saw seals, whales and lots and lots of penguins. If there's a place to land on the shore, you can actually set foot on dry land, of course--walking through a penguin colony or on the beach with an elephant seal. Some on our boat did most of their excursions in a sea kayak! There's scenic cruising between excursions, of course. And then there are those once-in-a-lifetime experiences, like digging a hole on a volcanic beach at Deception Island, creating a natural "hot tub" filled with sea water, and having an improvised thermal spa in the middle of nowhere. But also, you'll make lots of new friends on the boat. We met some incredible new friends on our Antarctica trip, and after many years, we still see them from time-to-time, even though they live all around the world!
Is it expensive?
Your Antarctica vacation is probably not going to be the least expensive trip you'll ever take. But there are Antarctica journeys that'll work with lots of different budgets. Keep in mind, though, for the trip-of-a-lifetime like this, you don't necessarily want to cheap-out. A bargain isn't going to feel like a good deal if you're not having the experience that matches your travel style.
How can I do this, myself?
That's the easiest question of all to answer! You just click that button at the bottom of the page and send us a note. We'll set up a time to chat, to answer any remaining questions you might have, and we'll send you some options to consider! So, what do you say?