The penguins are adorable, the seals are spectacular and the whales have that “Wow Factor” that take your breath away when they pop up beside your zodiac. They could all easily be the stars of Antarctica but they’re not. The real star of Antarctica? Ice. We couldn’t get enough of looking at the different hues in the ice. The amazing ice bergs make you stand in wonder. Listening to ice break off of a thousand year of glacier from the seat of a kayak is overwhelming and catching seals sleeping on ice flows in the middle of the Antarctic Peninsula is astounding. This Antarctica travel guide will help you plan your next vacation.
Antarctica Travel Guide: Fast Facts
- There is no standard plug or voltage in Antarctica. Rather, each station or expedition ship has its own distinct power supply and outlets.
- Antarctican dollars are collector's items and are produced by the Antarctica Overseas Exchange Office. Nevertheless the bills are not legal tender in Antarctica or in any other continent.
- The only way to get to Antarctica is via ship and operating tours there can be very expensive. It is sometimes possible to find last-minute bargain prices in Ushuaia (Argentina), however most tours are fully booked months in advance.
- Each ship runs its own onboard pay system differently, most of the time bills can be settled in cash, traveler's check or credit cards in either the national currency (in Ushuaia that would be the Argentine Peso) or in USD.
- No single government controls Antarctica, so visitors do not need visas to go there.
Top Packing Tips for Antarctica Travel
The weather in Antarctica is the coldest on the Earth, it is, after all, a high flat plateau of ice covered in snow throughout the year. Winter is known for its freezing dry air and unforgiving winds and the summer temperature usually rests below 0°C. In short, bundle up!
- Base Layer – the base layer should be made of wool or synthetic fabrics – these fabrics offer superior moisture-wicking and temperature control protection.
- Mid Layer – combined with your base layers, these layers will keep you warm. It is recommended to pack fleece tops and fleece-lined pants.
- Outer Layer – pack top quality waterproof pants and a waterproof (not water repellent) windbreaker.
- Head, fingers and toes – don't forget to cover up with waterproof gloves, an insulated hat and tall wool socks.
- Waterproof Rubber Boots – some expeditions provide these, but if not then make sure to pack a pair! They need to be waterproof so that your feet will not get wet when you step into shallow ice water during Zodiac landings
- Waterproof, waterproof, waterproof – we can't stress this point enough. Pants, jackets, gloves and shoes should all be fully 100% waterproof to protect from rainy weather and zodiac landings.
- Sunscreen / Chapstick / Lotion – you will get dry hands, face and lips in the bright sun and dry air, so make sure the bring the basics.
Top Things to do in Antarctica
- Go kayaking – Polar kayaking takes place in one of the roughest and toughest environments on Earth.
- Camp in Antarctica – this is certainly one of the most unique things we will ever do in our lives. To sleep on the 7th continent with nothing but a bivy sack and a sleeping bag between you and the snow is one of the most adventurous things we could do at the bottom of the world.
- Cross the Drake Passage – We had our trepidations about crossing the Drake Passage. They are the roughest seas in the world and 20,000 sailors have lost their lives exploring these waters.
- Spot Penguins – When visiting Antarctica there is one thing you are guaranteed to see….penguins. They just may be the cuteness little animal on earth. They are the most curious creatures.
- Take a Zodiac Tour of Pleneau Bay – Pleneau Bay is an incredible display put on by Mother Nature where you will find an iceberg graveyard. Yes, there is such a thing as an iceberg graveyard and this bay is filled with some of the most extraordinary ice formations you will ever see.
- Watch the Sunrise over the Lemaire Channel – The Lemaire Channel in Antarctica is known as the Fuji Funnel, Kodak Canal and Agfa Alley. That says something about just how photogenic it is.
- Enjoy a Perfect Day in Paradise Bay – paddle beside icebergs surrounded by glaciers on the icy blue waters of Paradise bay in Antarctica
- Visit Deception Island – It’s an island of doom where the worst acts of human nature played out on its shores. A land of slaughter and blood situated on an active volcano waiting to erupt.
A Little Bit More About Antarctica
- Who Goes to Antarctica?
- Photography Equipment for Antarctica Travel
- A Post Office in Antarctica? You Betcha!
- Antarctica – The Ultimate Travel Destination
- Antarctica Expedition Explained – What to do on Continent #7