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How to Plan a Trip to Antarctica: Frequently Asked Questions

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Kayaking Paradise Bay, Antarctica

Paradise Bay, Antarctica

As you plan your trip to Antarctica, consider the following answers to the most frequently asked questions.

From majestic glaciers to thriving wildlife, Antarctica offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the stunning beauty of one of the world's last untouched environments. Whether you are a seasoned explorer or a first-time traveler, you can create a journey to remember with the right information.

So whether you are dreaming of witnessing the famous penguin colonies or exploring the icy terrain, we are here to help you plan a stress-free and unforgettable trip to Antarctica.

  1. Can I travel to Antarctica?
  2. Where is Antarctica?
  3. Why is Antarctica a unique travel destination?
  4. When is the best time to visit Antarctica?
  5. How many days will I need for my Antarctica vacation?
  6. What are the most popular destinations in Antarctica?
  7. What should I do on my trip to Antarctica?
  8. Is Antarctica a good place for hiking?
  9. What wildlife experiences can I have in Antarctica?
  10. How do I travel around Antarctica?
  11. Is Antarctica a good destination for families?
  12. Is Antarctica suitable for senior travelers?
  13. Is Antarctica suitable for couples or honeymooners?
  14. What food should I try in Antarctica?
  15. Is Antarctica safe to visit?
  16. What language do they speak in Antarctica?
  17. What vaccinations do I need to travel to Antarctica?
  18. Which airports should I plan for?
  19. Do I need a visa for Antarctica?
  20. What currency does Antarctica use?
  21. How can Zicasso help me plan my trip to Antarctica?
  22. Where can I find recommended itineraries for my trip?

Can I travel to Antarctica?

American travelers can visit Antarctica on vacation, as long as they book through an expedition operator.

Since the continent and its regions are not owned by a country, Zicasso’s Antarctica travel specialists can help you book a trip with reputable operators, enabling you to explore the continent in line with the appropriate permissions.

To discover more entry information on destinations we service near Antarctica, explore our guide on Where Americans Can Travel Now.

Learn more: Plan Your Trip to Antarctica

Where is Antarctica?

Antarctica is the southernmost continent on Earth and is located around the South Pole. It is surrounded by the Southern Ocean and is considered a polar desert, with very little precipitation and a harsh, icy environment.

Travelers can visit the continent independently on Antarctica cruises, tours, and vacations or combine trips to Antarctica with Patagonia tours and vacations. It is also possible to visit Antarctica on Argentina tours or Chile tours, provided your vacation duration is long enough to include cruises out of Ushuaia in Argentina or flights out of Punta Arenas in Chile.

Why is Antarctica a unique travel destination?

Antarctica is unique in that it is the only continent that does not have a native human population. The only people who live on the continent are scientists and support staff at research stations, studying the effects of climate change on the region, as well as other environmental and biological factors.

Despite its remote location and inhospitable climate, Antarctica has a rich and diverse ecosystem, including penguins, seals, whales, and other marine life. With incredible outdoor activities in one of the world’s most remote destinations, Antarctica continues to captivate the imaginations of adventurous travelers.

When is the best time to visit Antarctica?

November to March is not only the best time to visit Antarctica, it is the only time travelers can explore the region. The November to March travel season coincides with Antarctica’s summer, making trips possible as the weather, though still averaging between 21°F and 43°F, is considerably warmer than winter and boats are able to access the continent as the sea ice melts.

From November to March, all sorts of outdoor experiences are possible. Travelers can enjoy hiking or kayaking as a family in January, skiing the snowy slopes in December, or watching the beginnings of the emperor penguins’ courtships in March. Within this travel window, you can find a month that works best for you and one that presents fewer challenges for your adventure.

Learn more: Best Time to Visit Antarctica

How many days will I need for my Antarctica vacation?

Travelers should plan to spend enough days in Antarctica to allow for their chosen experiences and the logistical possibilities.

If you wish to cruise Antarctica, we recommend planning for 14 days, giving you enough time to reach Ushuaia, Argentina, or Punta Arenas, Chile, and then set off on an 11-day cruise of Antarctica, with activities like camping, heli hiking, and scuba diving possible during your expedition. Land experiences can be anywhere between seven and 10 days, depending on your chosen base camp and activities, like skiing, hiking, wildlife tours, sea kayaking, and more.

According to our specialists, the best duration for an immersive Antarctic experience is 21 to 25 days as this allows you to visit Argentina and then cruise to Antarctica from Ushuaia or visit Chile and then fly out to Antarctica from Punta Arenas. You might also wish to see Argentina and Chile before visiting Antarctica, in which case we recommend between 30 to 35 days.

What are the most popular destinations in Antarctica?

Each destination in Antarctica offers a unique and unparalleled experience, and the following list highlights our recommendations for where to go when you visit the continent:

  • South Shetland Islands
  • Antarctic Peninsula
  • Drake Passage
  • Lemaire Channel
  • Falkland Islands
  • South Georgia
  • Port Lockroy
  • King George Island
  • Ross Sea
  • Deception Island

From the rugged, snowcapped South Shetland Islands, home to numerous research stations and colonies of penguins, to the breathtaking landscapes of King George Island, where glaciers and ice shelves meet the ocean, discover more about Antarctica’s top destinations in our guide on the 10 best places to visit in Antarctica.

What should I do on my trip to Antarctica?

Endless adventure awaits in Antarctica and the following list highlights our recommendations for the best experiences for your trip:

  • Embark on a journey to meet renowned scientists at cutting-edge research stations
  • Conquer the snowy terrain, skiing down the slopes of majestic mountains and peaks
  • Set sail on a whale-watching adventure in breathtaking bays
  • Discover the diverse penguin colonies of the Antarctic islands
  • Immerse yourself in unique active explorations, be it heli hiking or scuba diving
  • Scale the heights of towering peaks on trekking expeditions
  • Capture the essence of the wild with your camera, photographing the stunning wilderness and abundant wildlife
  • Cruise the Antarctic waters in style, taking a Zodiac boat tour and soaking in the breathtaking scenery

Explore our guide on the top 8 things to do in Antarctica to learn more about the possibilities as you plan your dream vacation.

Is Antarctica a good place for hiking?

Antarctica is a land of stunning natural beauty and rugged terrain, making it an ideal destination for those seeking a challenging and unique hiking experience.

While the harsh weather conditions and remote location can make hiking in Antarctica a formidable adventure, the rewards for those who undertake it are truly unparalleled. With breathtaking landscapes, diverse wildlife, and a pristine wilderness, Antarctica offers a truly unforgettable hiking experience that is unmatched anywhere else in the world.

Note that visitors are often required to take safety training and complete a rigorous acclimatization process before embarking on a hike. This helps ensure they are fully prepared for the unique challenges posed by the Antarctic environment, such as dealing with strong winds, navigating across ice and snow, and managing the effects of the cold and sun.

What wildlife experiences can I have in Antarctica?

Antarctica is home to a diverse range of wildlife and visitors have the opportunity to see many different species in their natural habitats. Here are some of the wildlife encounters you can plan for, along with locations and species for which to keep your eyes peeled:

Penguin Spotting

  • Where to Find Penguins: South Georgia, Falkland Islands, and Ross Sea
  • Penguins to Spot: Adelie Penguins, Chinstrap Penguins, Emperor Penguins, and Gentoo Penguins

Seal Spotting

  • Where to Find Seals: Falkland Islands and South Georgia
  • Seals to Spot: Elephant Seals, Leopard Seals, Ross Seals, and Crabeater Seals

Whale Watching

  • Where to Find Whales: Wilhelmina Bay, Drake Passage, and Lemaire Channel
  • Whales to Spot: Humpback Whales, Minke Whales, Orca Whales, and Blue Whales


  • Where to Find Birds: Antarctic Peninsula, Ross Sea, and Drake Passage
  • Birds to Spot: Albatross, Petrels, Skuas, and Terns

How do I travel around Antarctica?

Traveling around Antarctica is an experience unlike any other, and it’s an adventure that requires proper planning and preparation. There are several options to choose from when it comes to exploring this vast and remote region, including cruises and land expeditions.

Cruises to Antarctica are the most popular mode of transportation and offer a comfortable and convenient way to see the continent. These trips typically depart from South America, such as Ushuaia, Punta Arenas, or Puerto Williams, and last anywhere from 11 to 21 days. During the cruise, travelers can enjoy breathtaking views of glaciers, ice formations, and wildlife, such as penguins and whales.

For those seeking a more immersive experience, land expeditions are an excellent option. These begin at a base camp, enabling travelers to explore the surroundings, visit nearby research stations, partake in hiking excursions, enjoy kayaking, and more activities. Land expeditions can be as brief as seven days, but often require more travel time as travelers need to account for transfers and additional planned experiences.

Is Antarctica a good destination for families?

Antarctica is not just for adventure seekers, but also families who want to explore and experience the beauty of this remote and pristine wilderness. With the right planning, a family vacation to Antarctica can be an incredible and unforgettable experience that provides opportunities for learning, exploration, and bonding.

There are several options for families to explore Antarctica, including cruises, Zodiac boat tours, and guided excursions that offer a variety of activities suitable for different age groups and interests. Children can learn about the wildlife and the environment, participate in hands-on activities such as kayaking and snowshoeing, or simply enjoy the spectacular views and landscapes.

Learn more: Family Vacations & ToursFamily Vacation Travel Guide

Is Antarctica suitable for senior travelers?

Despite the challenges, a trip to Antarctica can be a truly rewarding experience for senior travelers. With the right preparation and the help of knowledgeable travel agents, seniors can safely and comfortably visit this breathtaking destination and enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

For senior travelers, good physical condition is important, as well as the ability to handle the harsh weather conditions. Travelers should also consider their personal mobility and any health issues that may impact their trip, and a travel specialist can help you plan accordingly.

Despite the harsh environment, the breathtaking beauty and awe-inspiring landscapes of the frozen continent are truly worth experiencing. Whether interested in wildlife watching, photography, or simply soaking up the breathtaking scenery, Antarctica has something to offer everyone, regardless of their age.

Learn more: Tours & Vacations for Senior TravelersTravel Guide for Senior Citizens

Is Antarctica suitable for couples or honeymooners?

With an emphasis on tranquility, scenic beauty, and seclusion, Antarctica provides the perfect setting for a romantic getaway for couples or honeymooners. This breathtaking and isolated continent is home to incredible landscapes, rare wildlife, and ample opportunities for exploration.

Many cruises to Antarctica offer a range of activities that are suitable for couples and honeymooners, from guided hikes and kayaking trips to Zodiac boat tours and wildlife-watching excursions. With stunning vistas and the opportunity to witness the breathtaking power of nature, couples and honeymooners can share unforgettable experiences in this magical and serene location.

Learn more: Romantic Vacations & Tours for CouplesHoneymoon Travel Guide

What food should I try in Antarctica?

Antarctica does not have a rich culinary history. Due to the harsh and inhospitable climate, there is limited access to fresh produce and ingredients. That said, the following list highlights some foods you can try when booking with expedition operators beyond freeze-dried meals and energy snacks:

  • Seafood chowder
  • Tuna, salmon, swordfish, and other fish
  • Pemmican, a mixture of dried meat
  • Hoosh, a stew made from pemmican, biscuits, and water

Is Antarctica safe to visit?

Despite the environmental challenges, many people travel to Antarctica each year and enjoy a safe and memorable experience.

It is important to note that Antarctica is not accessible by commercial airlines and can only be reached by boat or small aircraft. Visitors to the continent must be properly equipped for extreme weather conditions and should be familiar with basic wilderness safety practices. It is also recommended to travel with a reputable and experienced tour operator who can provide guidance, support, and emergency response services. In all cases, travel insurance is required, giving travelers peace of mind as they set off on cruises and land expeditions.

Additionally, visitors to Antarctica are required to follow environmental regulations and must adhere to strict guidelines for waste disposal, waste management, and resource usage. This helps to protect the fragile ecosystem of the continent and ensures it remains a pristine and unspoiled wilderness for future generations to enjoy.

What language do they speak in Antarctica?

The inhabitants of Antarctica consist of researchers and support staff, with the largest groups being from English-speaking countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. Furthermore, American travelers book expeditions with English-speaking tour operators, meaning you should have little problem communicating with residents and guides during your trip.

What vaccinations do I need to travel to Antarctica?

There are no specific vaccinations required for travel to Antarctica. However, it is recommended to be up to date with routine vaccinations such as measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, polio, and the seasonal flu shot.

You can learn more with the CDC Antarctica Vaccination Information and we advise travelers to check with a travel nurse or doctor to determine which vaccinations are appropriate based on personal health and travel plans.

Which airports should I plan for?

When visiting Antarctica, there are no commercial airports on the continent. Visitors typically fly to Punta Arenas, Chile, or Ushuaia, Argentina, which are the closest major cities to the Antarctic Peninsula. From there, they take a ship or a chartered flight to one of the research stations or bases on the continent. It is important to keep in mind that access to Antarctica is limited and heavily regulated to protect the fragile environment, so planning and preparation are crucial for a successful visit.

Do I need a visa for Antarctica?

In general, no visa is required to visit Antarctica as it is governed by the Antarctic Treaty System.

However, visitors to Antarctica may need to obtain permits from the country they are traveling from, or from the operator they are traveling with. These may require additional documentation such as proof of insurance, a medical certificate, and details of the planned itinerary.

It is important to check the specific requirements for your trip in advance and to plan ahead as access to Antarctica is limited.

What currency does Antarctica use?

Antarctica does not have its own currency as it is an uninhabited continent governed by the Antarctic Treaty System.

Visitors to Antarctica who typically travel to research stations, bases, or on cruises, pay for their trip and expenses in the currency of their home country or the country they are traveling from before arriving.

It is important to check with your travel operator for more specific information on currency and payment options for your trip to Antarctica.

How can Zicasso help me plan my trip to Antarctica?

You can plan your next adventure to Antarctica with Zicasso using our Antarctica cruises, tours, and vacations as inspiration by customizing the itineraries that appeal to you.

Explore tailored tours, discover areas that captivate your interest, and consider experiences that align with your travel goals. Whether planning a trip to Antarctica from Argentina or Chile, you can use our sample itineraries as the foundation for creating your unique trip.

To get started with Zicasso, fill out a Trip Request and provide details about the places you want to visit, the desired length of your trip, your group size, and traveler ages. Offer your preferences or comments on your travel style and set your budget, after which our Travel Care team will contact you to match you with a top travel specialist in Antarctica who will help you plan a stress-free and perfect adventure that exceeds your expectations.

Our Antarctic travel specialists provide insider tips on trips for beginners or can make your return trip to the continent unforgettable with their knowledge of experiences in the region.

Learn more: How to Plan Your Zicasso Trip in 4 Easy StepsHow to Plan Your Zicasso Trip Budget in 3 Easy Steps

Where can I find recommended itineraries for my trip?

Emperor penguins in Antarctica

Emperor penguins in Antarctica

Embark on an unforgettable journey to the frozen wonderland of Antarctica. Imagine standing in awe of towering glaciers, observing the mesmerizing dance of penguins and seals, and learning about the cutting-edge scientific research conducted in the region.

Whether you are seeking a family-friendly adventure or a romantic escape, our customizable Antarctica cruises, tours and vacations and in-depth Antarctica travel guide offer endless inspiration for creating your own unique experience in the world's southernmost frontier.

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