Arriving to Antarctica
Antarctica is extremely remote, and the journey to get there is part of the adventure. There are several options for arriving to the White Continent, and the one that you choose will depend on which part of Antarctica you want to visit and whether you plan to arrive by ship or by plane.
Here are some key things to consider as you plan your route:
Do you want to cruise or fly?
Until recently, the only way to reach Antarctica was by ship, and that’s still the option taken by roughly 90% of travelers. For those with less time for the journey, there is also the option to Fly & Cruise, taking a short flight from South America to the Antarctic continent and boarding your ship there.
Which entry point is most convenient for you?
There are a few different ways to get from South America to Antarctica. The most common entry points are Ushuaia and Puerto Madryn, both in Argentina, and Punta Arenas, Chile.
- The top choice is to sail from Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world and the departure point for most Antarctic cruises going to the Antarctic Peninsula, the Polar Circle, and South Georgia & the Falkland Islands. From Ushuaia to the peninsula is a 2-day sail across the Drake Passage, a 500-mile stretch of open water where the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and Antarctic Sea converge. The Drake has a reputation for choppy water, since there are no landmasses at that latitude to restrain it. For nervous travelers or those highly prone to seasickness, planning for the Drake can cause some anxiety. In reality, this passage is part of the adventure of travel to Antarctica, a place of stunning icebergs and open ocean that is home to whales and albatross, and a striking contrast to the hushed serenity of Antarctica itself.
- Some cruises also depart from Puerto Madryn, an Argentine city located about halfway between Buenos Aires and Ushuaia. These cruises are typically headed for South Georgia & the Falkland Islands, which are located off the coast of Argentina.
- For those who prefer to skip the Drake Passage, or who have less time for the journey, a 2-hour flight from Punta Arenas will take you to the continent, where you will board your vessel. There are no conventional scheduled flights to Antarctica: these flights are chartered as part of a trip. The Antarctic flying season is usually from December to February. It’s important to keep in mind that while flying will save you time, Antarctica’s changeable weather means that flights are always susceptible to potential delays.
What will you do before and after your cruise?
Your choice of entry point will depend on the rest of your travel plans. Any one of the departure cities combines well with a visit to Chile or Argentina, and they can also be reached coming directly from the United States. For those traveling directly to the Antarctica entry point, we recommend a buffer of one or two nights along the way, in case of any flight delays.
- Most flights to Ushuaia connect through Buenos Aires, Argentina, which can be reached directly from New York, Miami, Dallas, and Atlanta.
- Most flights to Punta Arenas connect through Santiago, Chile, which can be reached directly from New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas, and Atlanta.
- To get to Puerto Madryn, you will most likely fly into Trelew from Buenos Aires, and then drive about 45 minutes to Puerto Madryn. There is also a small airfield in Puerto Madryn itself, which can be reached from Buenos Aires, though the number of flights is more limited.
As always, we’re here to help you consider these factors and plan the best trip for you! Our Destination Specialists will walk you through the options and help you decide how to go and what to see along the way.