FAQ – Antarctica
Here’s some great info that you should have about visiting Antarctica. If you have another question, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
What is the best time of year to visit Antarctica?
Antarctic trips run during the southern hemisphere summer – from late October through the end of March. Each part of the season has its particular highlights. You should choose your trip based on your interests in Antarctica.
October –November (late spring, early summer)
This is the most pristine and adventurous time to visit Antarctica. The White continent is undisturbed by earlier travelers, snow is deep and ice is just starting to melt. Temperatures may be colder during these trips, but this offers breathtaking icebergs, pristine icescapes and incredible scenery. Wildlife is not as plentiful as later in the season, but it is penguin mating season and you will see penguins busy at work building nests.
December – February (high summer)
Days are very long (up to 20 hours of sunlight a day), allowing you to explore Antarctica later into the evening. Wildlife is plentiful and very active – penguin chicks start to hatch and in later January-February baby penguins are a highlight. These trips sell out early and must be booked in advance to guarantee space.
Fly cruises that operate in and out of Punta Arenas, Chile run during this part of the season (early Dec – Feb)
Mid-February – March (later summer)
Late summer is the best part of the season for whale watching. A lot of ice and snow has melted, revealing different landscapes than earlier in the season and allowing ships to enter areas that were inaccessible due to ice or to travel farther south.
How do I get to Antarctica?
You can travel to Antarctica by expedition cruise ship, or by taking a charter flight across the Drake Passage. Crossing by cruise ship is by far the most popular way to travel to Antarctica, with the most variety of voyage options.
By cruise ship, the 1,000 km crossing takes two days at sea. This route follows in the footsteps of the early explorers and provides a great opportunity to meet fellow passengers and to look for sea birds and whales. These two days also offer a lecture and presentation schedule by the naturalists onboard. Seas can be rough across the Drake Passage, so we recommend some preparation (more details below).
By charter flight, the 1,000 km crossing takes approximately three hours. This saves you four days at sea, however these trips are limited from Dec – Feb, and carry a price premium. These trips typically start and end in Punta Arenas, Chile.
What will the weather be like?
Weather conditions in Antarctica are variable during the summer months, with temperatures hovering around the freezing mark. The extended daylight warms sheltered areas so that you may find temperatures warm enough for t-shirts while hiking up a glacier. However, you may encounter snow squalls, fog and white-outs during an expedition.
You can read more about what to pack for your expedition here.
What type of clothing should I pack?
An outer, waterproof layer is the most important part of your Antarctic gear. We recommend a waterproof jacket with hood, waterproof pants and gloves, as well as a warm hat. All ships will provide rubber Wellington boots for shore excursions. Layers are key in Antarctic weather, as conditions change quickly. Fleece or thermal clothing is also recommended. You can read more about what to pack for your expedition here.
Can I rent waterproof gear?
If you don’t want to travel with bulky clothing or purchase outwear, our team at Freestyle is happy to provide waterproof outer layers on loan free of charge for the duration of your expedition. We can loan you snowpants, parkas and water resistant gloves. We will also give you a warm hat and neck buff to keep!
Will I experience seasickness?
The Drake Passage is notorious for rough seas, and we recommend all passengers bring preventative medication aboard. There is a doctor on each ship and sea sickness medication can be acquired if needed during the voyage.
You can purchase Dramamine in Ushuaia, however there are some medications not available in Argentina. We recommend you consult your doctor before leaving home to secure medication, as some require prescriptions.
What type of insurance do I need?
All passengers are required to have travel insurance, which covers medical evacuation / repatriation. We also recommend purchasing trip cancellation insurance to cover you in case of unforeseen circumstances. Different ship operators have different insurance requirements, so we can help guide you once you choose your trip. We work with a number of insurance agents and can help find a good insurance fit for you. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many travel insurance policies have changed so it’s important to check coverage carefully.
How much time is spent ashore in Antarctica?
The daily goal aboard expedition vessels is two excursions per day, depending on weather and ice conditions. Excursions can be land visits to go for a hike, zodiac cruises through bays to observe ice and wildlife or station visits. Each excursion ranges from 1-3 hours. All activities in Antarctica are dependent on weather and wind conditions. Expedition teams have various plans each day to accommodate activities during challenging weather systems.
Are there restrictions ashore in Antarctica?
We work only with International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO), which governs and protects Antarctica. In some landing sites, the number of people allowed onshore limited to 100 or even 50 people. Larger ships tend to offer zodiac cruises in these areas so that passengers get the most time off the ship.
To protect and maintain the fragile environment, food and drink are not allowed ashore.There are also important regulations about proximity to wildlife that you will learn from the Expedition staff.
How ‘fit’ do I need to be to participate in these expeditions?
These expeditions are not necessarily physically demanding, but you need to be mobile and in overall good health to participate. As you will be traveling to a remote area without access to sophisticated medical facilities, you should not travel to the Antarctic if you have a life-threatening medical condition. Aboard the ship you can opt in or out of hikes or excursions, depending on your interest and ability.
Can I fly a drone / UAV in Antarctica?
Probably not. A number of requirements apply to the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)/drones in Antarctica, due to concerns about privacy, wildlife, environment, interference with scientific work, use in controlled airspace, and potential impacts if lost.