Antarctica – the Great White Continent. It’s so wild to me that I was able to visit. I’m still processing the entire trip. This was the biggest trip of my life, in terms of pricing, packing, and planning. In this guide to visiting Antarctica, I’m sharing everything from how I booked my trip, to pricing, to what to pack, and everything in-between! I hope this serves as guide to help you adequately prepare for your own trip to the Great White Continent!
I tried to think about everything I wanted to know prior to my trip and compile it into this post (hence why it might be all over the place haha). As much as I wanted to make this a one-stop shop, that would make the post soooo long. So I’ll have a separate post for a detailed packing list which will include links, and another post that shares what a typical day onboard on the ship looks like. In the meantime, enjoy the information I pulled together from my experience and please recognize that everyone’s Antarctica expedition will look different based on so many varying factors.
How Did I Book My Trip?
First things first. Everyone is curious to know how I even booked a trip to Antarctica. That’s a fair question, as the continent wasn’t even on my radar – at least not this early into my travelling career. But when a travel opportunity comes knocking, I’m usually opening the door. Enter Kesi of Kesi To and Fro. We had been following each other on Instagram for awhile and gotten to know each other, so when she announced she was hosting a group trip to Antarctica I knew I had to join. She sent me all the information and connected me with the travel agent working with our group. Kesi is planning to host another trip to Antarctica, so make sure to follow her and join her email list if that’s something you’re interested in.
Other Ways to Book the Trip
Maybe Kesi’s tour isn’t for you and that’s okay. There are other ways to book a trip to Antarctica. You can book directly with companies who offer cruises or expeditions to Antarctica. Just a quick Google search led me down a rabbit role of various companies offering the adventure and although all are a pretty penny, they range on price points. Make sure to read all that is included in the cost and choose the option that is best suited for you.
This trip is by no means a trip for those faint of funds. As you can imagine, travelling to Antarctica requires a lot of manpower and resources so it does come with a hefty price tag. Antarctic expeditions typically range anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000+ USD, depending on how you’re getting there, the company you’re going with, the duration of the trip, and lots of other factors. And this is usually just for booking the trip itself – the price doesn’t typically include flight to/from the departure/arrival port. Thankfully Kesi was able to get our group a discounted rate, which is how I was able to make this trip happen.
Chile, Antarctica, & Argentina Itinerary
Although I extended my trip before and after the Antarctica portion, it’s obviously not necessary to do this. I figured I was already down there, so I might as well explore to maximize my time. Below you’ll find a rough outline of my itinerary:
|Oct. 28, 2022
|Flight from Atlanta to Punta Arenas
|Oct. 29, 2022
|Land in Punta Arenas; One night in Hotel Cabo de Hornos
|Oct. 30, 2022
|Viator: Transfer to Puerto Natales
|Oct. 31, 2022
|Viator: Torres Del Paines National Park
|Nov. 1, 2022
|Viator: Navigation Balmaceda & Serrano Glaciers
|Nov. 2, 2022
|Viator: Transfer to Punta Arenas + Intrepid Meet & Greet
|Nov. 3, 2022
|Board Ocean Endeavor to Antarctica
|Nov. 4, 2022
|Sea Day: Drake Passage
|Nov. 5, 2022
|Sea Day: Drake Passage
|Nov. 6, 2022
|Telefon Bay at Deception Island; Snowshoeing
|Nov. 7, 2022
|Wilhelmina Bay + Portal Point
|Nov. 8, 2022
|Joule Point (Port Lockroy) + Damoy Point; Ice Camping
|Nov. 9, 2022
|Paradise Harbor + Android Bay + Errera Channel; Polar Plunge
|Nov. 10, 2022
|Fournier Bay + Melchior Islands
|Nov. 11, 2022
|Sea Day: Drake Passage
|Nov. 12, 2022
|Sea Day: Drake Passage
|Nov. 13, 2022
|Arrive to Ushuaia, Argentina + Fly to Buenos Aires
|Nov. 14, 2022
|Explore Buenos Aires
|Nov. 15, 2022
|Day Trip to Colonia, Uruguay
|Nov. 16, 2022
|Explore Buenos Aires + Head Home
The accommodation for the majority of my trip was the cruise ship; however, it was necessary to stay in hotels or hostels throughout the other parts of our trip. The hotel the night before we boarded was included in our cruise cost, so make sure to check that when you decide to book your trip.
- Hotel Cabo de Hornos (Punta Arenas, Chile): We paid to stay here one night before our Viator tour because this is the hotel we would be coming back to the night before the cruise.
- Hotel Costausralis (Puerto Natales, Chile): This hotel was included in our tour price and we stayed there three nights. Not sure what the price is, but breakfast was included with our stay and we were walking distance from downtown. The view from our room was also incredible.
- Milhouse Hostel (Buenos Aires, Argentina): Someone in our group recommend it and we booked it without looking at other nearby options. They have the option to include transportation when booking. Breakfast is not included, but they have events throughout the week and discounted prices for nearby attractions/activities.
- Circus Hostel & Hotel (Buenos Aires, Argentina): Although I didn’t personally stay here as this is where my friends moved to the day I flew out, I was able to see the rooms and general area and it looked really nice. I believe breakfast is included and they also have a pool!
The Drake Passage
At the time, I did not realize how truly blessed we were with the Drake Passage experience that we had. I had heard horror stories of the water passage, so I was fully prepared to be spending all the time we were crossing it in my room, on my bed, in the fetal position.
Much to my surprise, it was definitely felt but not to the point where I got seasick. I will note, I started taking Dramamine a few days prior to boarding the ship and I took a pill each morning. Many passengers were using the ear patches to battle sicknesses as well. There were a literally only a handful of people (to my knowledge) that didn’t use any meds and didn’t get seasick. But most people who did use the meds did not experience seasickness. There is also a doctor on board who can assist should you need help.
My friend who went about two weeks after me did not have the same experience. Instead of the Drake Lake (relatively peaceful crossing), she had the Drake Shake (very volatile crossing). Her crossing was actually so bad, the cruise ship had to turn back and try again another day. So be mindful that although the captain does his/her best to make the crossing as smooth as possible, it’s not always able to come to fruition.
Antarctica was not as cold as I thought it was going to be. Not to say it wasn’t cold, but I was expecting it to be in the high negatives. Thankfully that was not the case. I’m pretty sure it only got below zero when the wind was blowing. But with our layers, it was definitely manageable, and at times we even got hot. It’s also good to remember that the boat won’t be as cold as outside obviously, so pack clothes for when you’re on the ship. For example, I wish I packed more short sleeve t-shirts and one more pair of shorts.
What to Pack
This section deserves its own separate post, so that’s what I’m going to do. I’ll share a list of the specific items I purchased, making sure to note how I would pack knowing what I know now. Although I only packed a carryon, I still felt like I overpacked. There were some items I definitely could have left at home, but honestly, I had never met anyone who had been to Antarctica and I’m not a cold weather type of gal so I thought, better to be over prepared than under.
In this post, I’m sharing a general list of the items that were necessary for me on this trip:
- Thermal Top x 1
- Thermal Bottoms x 2
- Short Sleeve Shirts x 3
- Long Sleeve Shirts x 2
- Jacket x 2
- Shorts x 2
- Leggings x 2
- Ski Pants / Waterproof Pants [mandatory]
- Waterproof Gloves x 2
- Wool Socks x 2
- Regular Socks x 3
- Beanie x 2
- Swimsuit [for polar plunge, sauna, hot tub, and pool]
- Shoes with good traction (for walking around the boat)
- Hiking boots (only if planning to hike before/after Antarctica)
- Flip flops (for walking around your cabin)
- Dry Bag
- Sunglasses with UV Protection
- Seasickness Medicine
There are a variety of excursions to choose from. The Antarctica landings are included in the price, but if you’re looking to camp, snowshoe, or kayak, that’s going to be an additional cost. On the Ocean Endeavor, we had the following options to choose from and the ones with the asterisk are the ones I ended up doing:
|Sea Kayaking Program
Lastly, the much anticipated section on price. As I previously stated, this trip is definitely not cheap. In my mind, I was spending about $10,000 in total for the entire trip, but you can see that I went a bit over in the price breakdown below. At the end of the day though, I’m not mad at it because it was the experience of a lifetime and some spend just that much, if not more, just booking the Antartica portion. It also helped that everything was paid for across time so it never left like too heavy of a lift at any one time.
|Cabin (Twin, Porthole Cabin)
|Antarctica Gear from REI + Amazon
|Flight (Atlanta, Georgia to Punta Arenas, Chile)
|Viator Tour: 4 Days Trip to Puerto Natales & Torres del Paine National Park
|Hiking Boots + Rain Jacket Purchase in Puerto Natales
|Ocean Endeavor Cruise Final Bill (Excursions, Shop, Drinks, Etc.)
|Flight (Ushuaia, Argentina to Buenos Aires, Argentina)
|Transportation from EZE Airport to Milhouse Hostel
|Milhouse Hostel in Buenos Aires
|Colonia Express (Uruguay Ferry)
|Flight (Buenos Aires, Argentina to Atlanta, Georgia)
|Total (not including food, drinks, Uber)
Recap of the Antartica Guide
Antarctica was a trip of a lifetime. What made is such an incredible experience was by far the group of people I was able to go with, but also being one of the first people in two years to visit the continent. We saw whales, seals, penguins, and seabirds. We learned the difference between glaciers and icebergs while seeing them with our own two eyes. This trip is one I will remember for the rest of my life, not only because it was such a unique experience, but also because of the lifelong friends I found along the way.
It’s hard to try and put into words this experience, and I’m sure I may have missed some things you may be wondering about. If that’s the case and you have additional questions about Antarctica or need me to clarify anything, let me know in the comments!
As always, thank you for reading and supporting Life with Larissa! I appreciate it more than you know. And don’t forget – a separate packing list post is coming soon. Make sure you’re subscribed to this blog and/or following on Instagram to know when it’s published.