Unpacking Antarctica

We recently had the opportunity to spend time with John and Hayley – the President and Director of Expedition Operations for Polar Latitudes, our ship partners in taking guests down to Antarctica.

Our partnership with Polar Latitudes is based on three key elements:

  1. The balance of luxury and expedition
  2. The opportunity to kayak and camp
  3. Citizen science – the ships partner with important research facilities including NASA to collect data. And if our guests want to get involved  in surveys they can – we think that is pretty cool.

As ambassadors of guardianship to the region we want you to travel there – tourism is a huge driving force in Antarctic conservation. On average more than 100 different nationalities visit Antarctica each season, returning home as fellow ambassadors to this magical continent and its wildlife.

HOW DO I GET TO ANTARCTICA?

Most travel is by sea on a cruise from the ports of Ushuaia (Argentina) or Punta Arenas (Chile) to the Antarctic Peninsula. Some travellers depart from Tasmania or New Zealand, voyaging across the Ross Sea. There are also options by air to temporary land-based camps.

WHICH ROUTE SHOULD I DO?

For your first visit to Antarctica we would strongly recommend putting time aside and embark on a circuit that includes the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica. The first of these destinations break the journey at sea and offer sensational wildlife. The Falklands includes spectacular colonies of Southern Rockhopper Penguin and Black-browed Albatross and in terms of wildlife South Georgia rivals even the white continent itself. This is a 3 week trip. We do offer shorter “Antarctica express” trips for those who really don’t have the time.

WHAT TYPE OF BOAT SHOULD I GO ON?

Ideally you want to be on a category 1 expedition vessel (13-200 passengers) – this gives you the comfort not afforded by small sailing vessels, but a broad range of possible landing sites (larger ships are more limited in their landing sites, and those with more than 500 passengers are not allowed to land at all).

WHEN SHOULD I VISIT?

For wildlife it is best to visit in late December or after New Year. January is ideal. During December/ January seal pups can be seen on the beaches of South Georgia. In November and early December whale sightings are less reliable and these peak in February/ March.

WHY DON’T I NEED A VISA?

Antarctica does not have a government and is not owned by any country, therefore no visa is required. However, it is managed through the Antarctic Treaty originally signed by 12 nations (now including 48). The treaty designates the entire continent as a “natural reserve devoted to peace and science”. Thankfully this means that there is a ban on military use, disposing of radioactive waste materials, and any kind of nuclear testing. Under the treaty, tourism is considered to be a legitimate activity. You might need a visa for the country you are embarking from – usually Argentina or Chile.

IS IT DANGEROUS?

No, however the remote location, ice and unpredictable weather is a logistical challenge. That is why we only work with experienced and knowledgeable boats, who are able to provide the trip of a lifetime, whilst also keeping you safe and promoting environmentally responsible travel.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

This depends on the cabin  you choose, the route and time of year. However if you are wanting to do a three week trip including Falkland’s, South Georgia and Antarctica the cost on one of our partner ships starts from US$14 295 per person sharing for a triple cabin, and up to US$32 995 per person sharing for the Owner’s Suite. Shorter “express” trips to the Antarctic Peninsula start from US$8 995 for 11 days.

If you have more questions we are happy to help!!!

Warm regards from Simon and Jen

VIEW OUR ANTARCTICA BROCHURE

 

Bellingham Safaris

We have over 30 years combined experience in the luxury safari business. Between us we have traveled to all 7 continents in search of ultimate wildlife experiences in the most remote and pristine areas on our planet.